Monday, November 8, 2010

Silence of the Lambs

I had planned to write about an amazing Palace that we toured on Saturday but yesterday, a friend and I attempted to see a movie at the Virginia Film Festival and my thoughts are still traversing back to our BAD experience.  I wanted to support the festival and see a unique film that was not "mainstream".  We attempted to see one of my blog recommendations, My Dog Tulip, but it was sadly SOLD OUT.  We were in the mood for an animal themed film but we made a huge mistake by picking a movie that mentioned "farming" in the bio.

Sweetgrass was advertised as an "astonishingly beautiful" film depicting "the last modern-day cowboys leading their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer grazing".  Before the movie started our host told us to "sit back and enjoy the beautiful, beautiful movie".  We didn't stay to see the astonishing beauty because the first 20 minutes was disturbing and cruel.  The abuse to the sheep initially began as slight - rough handling while shearing, a little poke or a kick.  My mind was telling itself - ok, it's alright, don't overreact, try to put yourself in a farm setting -- after all, they aren't beating the sheep or torturing them for laughs -- it's ok -- these are animals "for profit" -- it's just "the way it is" -- it's life on the farm -- it's reality -- face up to it -- you've certainly seen worse treatment.  

I appreciate the fact that the film maker did not mask the cruelty and hide the truth but the escalation of violence and the constant bleating of the lambs was increasingly disturbing.  I was perturbed at the Virginia Film Festival for their apparent lack of knowledge that the film contained animal cruelty and therefore no warning published (we were told the bio's were written to ATTRACT viewers).  The end of the movie for us (after 20 minutes) was when a newborn lamb was pulled from its mothers womb and other lambs were tossed on top of it as if a pile of logs for the fire.  At this juncture the movie was deserving of a title such as "Silence of the Lambs".  We anticipated the next scene to be the slaughter of a lamb, something I didn't care to stick around to see.  I can't recall the last time I left a movie, I even sat through Fast Food Nation which was extremely graphic.

I guess the reality of most farming endeavors (even if we sugar coat it with words such as "free range" or "grass fed") is that if an animal is not killed it is most probably frightened, abused, or tortured.  Can there be a farm that sells animal products to the public that is truly humane? 

Animal parts are consumed in some form by anyone that is not a vegan (estimated in the US to be 1% of the population).  Animal farming happens and will happen for years to come.  Large scale factory farming is beyond horrible and consumer shopping choices are putting a small dent in this industry that had taken control of our food supply.  I think we can all agree that at a minimum a farm animal should be able to live its life as natural as possible, on "the range" before its ultimate demise.

A really nice Virginia Film Festival volunteer tried to accommodate us by getting us a ticket to another film but there were only a few offerings remaining on the last evening of the festival.  Another film could not be swapped for our tickets so we were told that we could not receive a refund.  It left a VERY bad impression on me and something I will remember for years to come.  I loved the last comment by the Virginia Film Festival chief "in charge", we hope you will come back again next year.


1 comment:

  1. I am so saddened, shocked and disgusted with this so-called 'beautiful' movie that you described. What a horror! Any time an animal is ultimately going to be eaten, it's specialness as a living and loving creature gets lost to the business. One of the saddest facts of our world and that all humanity should be affected by, but isn't. Boo on the Virginia Film Festival on a large scale for miss-advertising this movie and on a smaller scale that you were not treated right.


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