Today we’re sharing a short film, “The Slaughter,” that garnered festival attention last year at the SXSW, BFI London and Locarno film festivals, and was a finalist for the Student Academy Awards. This week, it’s the current Vimeo Staff Pick, as well as the Featured Short on Short Of The Week. Shorts don’t get much attention outside of festival programming, but many are able to pack more of an emotional punch in just 15 minutes than many studio feature films. “The Slaughter” is no exception, coming with a strong message inspired by director Jason B. Kohl‘s background.
Kohl‘s father breeds and sells Mangalista pigs, and after witnessing a humane pig slaughter, he was inspired to explore the process onscreen. “The Slaughter” features the story of a father and son who are negotiating their troubled relationship, as the father attempts to pass on his knowledge of pig farming and humane slaughter to his son. “Breaking Bad” and “Sons of Anarchy” character actor Michael Shamus Wiles stars as the gruff, demanding but ultimately compassionate father, and Elijah Bridges as his ne’er do well son trying to prove himself.
We should give the trigger warning that **this film features the slaughter of a pig on screen, and it is absolutely NOT for the faint of heart or stomach.** It’s hard to watch, but it will make the viewer think about their own food consumption. The film makes the point that the intimate connection between people and food can be a violent one that is all-too-often rendered invisible, and thus “The Slaughter” makes it visible. In a statement about the shoot, Kohl said, “the slaughter portrayed in the film was performed by local farmers wearing the actors’ wardrobe. After the shoot the cast and crew came together to eat a three course meal prepared from the pig by renowned chef Brian Polcyn at the Forest Grill in Birmingham. For most of the cast and crew, it was the first time they’d ever eaten an animal they’d previously known.”
More details in his notes can be found here. It’s provocative and troubling content, but it’s a necessary reminder about our own consumption and the cycles of life, as well as a study of a man trying to pass on his traditions and values to his son in a deeply human way. Check out the film below.