If you don’t know about the SHAC 7 or the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you probably should. It set harrowing precedents about free speech, protest, governmental response to activism, and the rights of corporations as they exceed those of actual people. All of which has continued to fester and manifest in terrifying ways. All of that is on full display in The Animal People, a new documentary executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix. The film just held its world premiere, hits VOD soon after years of work, and there’s a new trailer. Take a look below.
The film follows a group of activist attempting to shut down one of the world’s largest animal testers, only to be convicted of terrorism, despite the fact they neither committed nor had knowledge of illegal acts. Seriously, the government used RICO statutes and tactics in their case like they were the mob. The Animal People will explain things in much greater detail than I can.
Here’s a synopsis:
More than ten years in the making, the feature documentary THE ANIMAL PEOPLE, from directors Cassandra Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly, follows the journey of six young activists who find themselves indicted as terrorists by the United States government. The reason for indictment: the activists' leadership of a controversial open protest campaign aiming to close down the largest animal testing laboratory in the world. The activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact and systematically knocked down pillars of financial support for the lab. But when protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown underground elements, the FBI stepped in. The Bureau began an unprecedented campaign of surveillance, creating a model that would later be used against Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The United States Congress, under corporate pressure, rewrote laws in specific preparation for prosecution, potentially weakening free speech rights for all Americans. Featuring expansive interviews with the six activists spanning more than a decade, rare archival footage – including never-before-seen surveillance footage, wiretaps, and government documents, The Animal People is a chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power.
The Animal People lands on VOD services on December 10. Check it out and get mad.