A trailer has arrived for “Unlocking the Cage,” Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker’s eye-opening Sundance animal rights doc. “When you imprison a chimpanzee, the chimpanzee understands that tomorrow he’s going to be in prison,” animal rights lawyer Steven Wise explains. “And as far as he knows, it’s not going to end.”
The doc sees Wise fighting to acquire rights for non-human animals. To do so, he must transform the perception of cognitively complex animals such as chimps, whales and dolphins from “things” to “persons” with legal protections.
Oscar-nominee Hegedus told Women and Hollywood, “During the years that I have been following Steve, there has been a monumental shift in our culture as the media and public show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s arguments about why we should expand our legal system to include a nonhuman animal, such as a chimpanzee.” She continued, “The scientific research from primatologists, such as Jane Goodall, is convincing and extensive. Some of the most compelling moments for me in the film are of Kanzi, Koko and Tatu, great apes who have been taught to communicate with us using sign language or symbols.”
Hegedus ultimately hopes that “the film will inspire people to think differently about animals and why they deserve protection.”
“Unlocking the Cage” made its world premiere at Sundance. It will make its Canadian debut May 2 at Hot Docs.
The feature hits theaters May 25 in NYC and nationally in June.