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UNLOCKING THE CAGE

12:30   2:30   4:40   7:00   9:15

Final Day - Tuesday, June 7

DIRECTED BY CHRIS HEGEDUS AND D.A. PENNEBAKER

“They used to bark at me when I walked into the courtroom,” says animal rights attorney Steven Wise, founder of the Nonhuman Rights Project. It’s Wise’s unorthodox position that cognitively complex animals (e.g. chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, elephants) should be granted personhood rights that would protect them from abuse. The world-renowned documentary team of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker (DONT LOOK BACK, THE WAR ROOM, STARTUP.COM) captures Wise’s progress: from the halls of academia to animal sanctuaries and zoos, and finally into the courtrooms where he makes a compelling case for clients Merlin, Kiko, Hercules, Leo, and Tommy. This is a touching, funny and legally provocative movie: Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people, why not chimps?

With support from the Richard Brick, Geri Ashur & Sara Bershtel Fund for Social Justice Documentaries.

USA / UK / FRANCE • 2016 • 91 MINS.
FIRST RUN FEATURES / HBO DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Reviews

“Thoughtful, compelling and heroic. The film made me proud to be a primate.”
– Jon Stewart

“In their new documentary, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus bring their relaxed, acute observational style of filmmaking to bear on a thorny tangle of legal and philosophical questions. Observant and absorbing.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A surprisingly suspenseful and compelling courtroom thriller... Simply put, UNLOCKING THE CAGE tells a great story.”
– Anthony Kaufman, Screen Daily

“A crisp and convincing documentary. Wise is an animal-rights lawyer who challenges the fact that animals, although not human, are treated under the law as objects, rather than living beings. In this amusingly serious quest, we see the obstacles Wise encounters.”
– Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter

“(Made by) the legendary docu duo of D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Depicts one of the strangest legal conundrums imaginable: How can animals possibly hope to change their status under human law if they can’t actually represent their own interests in court?”
– Peter Debruge, Variety

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UNLOCKING THE CAGE: Q & A with filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, and the film's subject Steven Wise.

Recorded May 26, 2016
UNLOCKING THE CAGE

Film Forum