Book Review: We Animals, Jo-Anne McArthur (2013)

Monday, February 17th, 2014

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“It will change the world, for the better, for us all.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free pdf copy of this book for review.)

“What you see on these pages may surprise or disturb you. My aim is not to turn you away but to draw you in, bring you closer, make you a participant. I want my photographs to be beautiful and evocative as well as truthful and compelling. I hope you’ll take the time not just to look but to see — if only as a mark of respect for the billions of animals whose lives and deaths we don’t notice. To look at this book is to bear witness with me, which means also that we confront cruelty and our complicity in it. As a species, we have to learn new behaviours and attitudes and unlearn the old ones.” (page 9)

Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur has spent the last decade and a half traveling the world – both on her own and in the company of animal activists – documenting our complicated relationships with nonhuman animals. Relationships that so often boil down to objectification, exploitation, and consumption. If you’ve been involved with animal advocacy for any length of time, no doubt you’re familiar with some of McArthur’s images. She’s photographed open rescues conducted by Animal Equality; documented the affecting actions of Toronto Pig Save; and set sail with the crew of the Sea Shepherd. McArthur bears witness through the lens of her camera, exposing atrocities that many of us would prefer remain invisible.

Recently featured in Liz Marshall’s The Ghosts In Our Machine, We Animals features 100 of McArthur’s photos – some taken for the film, others on behalf of various animal advocacy organizations, and the rest during the artist’s travels. The result is a stunning portfolio that’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. From the Calgary Stampede to the Tam Dao Bear Sanctuary in Vietnam, McArthur brings us examples of unimaginable cruelty – and selfless compassion.

(More below the fold…)

#ForTheGhosts

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

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The much-anticipated animal rights documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine is coming out in just a few weeks, and the folks involved need our help to get the word out! The film follows renown photographer Jo-Anne McArthur over the course of the year as she bears witness to the suffering of the billions of animals exploited in the food, fashion, entertainment, and research industries. The film is part of a larger, ongoing photo project, We the Animals, now in its 15th year. Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, no doubt you’ve seen some of Jo-Anne’s photos.

(This picture of Sonny the calf – shown on his rescue day in the banner above – is among my favorites!)

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You can find (some really amazing) banners, graphics, Facebook cover photos, press kits, and more on the film’s website at www.theghostsinourmachine.com. Private Vimeo screenings are available to those bloggers who would like to review the film and/or interview the filmmakers.

To see a list of upcoming screenings – or request one in your community – click here.

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New Documentary ‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’ Begins U.S. Theatrical Release in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco

TORONTO, ON – The Ghosts in Our Machine, the acclaimed documentary film about the dramatic reality largely hidden from our view – the lives of individual animals living within and rescued from the machine of our modern world – will begin an awards-season run in four major U.S. markets this fall.

Award-winning filmmaker Liz Marshall’s progressive, consciousness-raising documentary will be released in New York on Nov. 8 at Village East Cinema, in Los Angeles on Nov. 15 at Laemmle Music Hall, and will later expand to San Francisco and Boston with dates and theaters to be announced soon. The film enjoyed a successful world premiere earlier this year at Canada’s Hot Docs film festival, where it was voted a Top 10 Audience Favorite, and has since been booked in 11 cities across Canada.

Marshall directs The Ghosts in Our Machine through the heart and lens of award-winning animal photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. Over the course of a year, Marshall shadows McArthur throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe as she documents animal stories, with each photograph and story serving as a window into global industries using animals for food, clothing, entertainment and biomedical research. McArthur’s epic photo project We Animals is comprised of thousands of photographs taken around the world, documenting animals with heart-breaking empathic vividness.

This visually arresting one-of-a-kind documentary shines a cinematic light on the animals we don’t easily acknowledge – the “ghosts” – who are trapped within the cogs of our voracious consumer world. Haunting and heart-warming, audiences encounter a diverse cast of animal subjects who invite us to consider whether non-human animals are property to be owned and used, or sentient beings deserving of rights. The Ghosts in Our Machine also charts McArthur’s efforts to bring wider attention to a topic most of humankind strives hard to avoid.

“With the exception of our companion animals and a few wild and stray species within our urban environments, we experience animals daily as the food, clothing, animal tested goods and entertainment we make of them,” said Marshall. “This moral dilemma is often hidden from our view.”

“I feel like I’m a war photographer,” McArthur says in the film. “I am photographing history, and photographing changes in history right now, in terms of animal rights and where it’s going.”

Since early development and during filming, the project has attracted the attention of progressives and celebrities alike, with kudos from Woody Harrelson, Bill Maher, James Cromwell, Bob Barker, and other international animal and environmental advocates. Radiohead agreed to have their iconic song, “Give Up The Ghost,” in the film.

The film’s website (www.theghostsinourmachine.com) offers a number of interactive educational tools including a guided five-day “Ghost-Free Journey” to lead participants on adopting a vegan lifestyle, and a stunning and innovative flash story by award-winning interactive artists The Goggles (Welcome to Pine Point; Adbusters).

(More below the fold…)