Neon has released the official full trailer for “Gunda,” an experimental black and white film about the life of farm animals that took this year’s Berlin Film Festival by storm. “Gunda” is the latest in a trilogy of nature films from Russian documentary auteur Victor Kossakovsky, whose 2018 film “Aquarela” broke technological barriers to examine water in various shapes around the world. After viewing an early cut of “Gunda,” Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix was so moved by the film that he came on as an executive producer. Phoenix has a long history of advocating for animal rights and related issues (including in his 2020 Academy Award acceptance speech.)
Per the official synopsis: “Experiential cinema in its purest form, ‘Gunda’ chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, master director Victor Kossakovsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an otherworldly perspective. ‘Gunda’ asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.”
The trailer opens with this ringing endorsement from none other than Paul Thomas Anderson: “‘Gunda’ is pure cinema,” the “Phantom Thread” filmmaker says. “This is a film to take a bath in — it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences — pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.”
In his rave review out of Berlin, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “Kossakovsky’s fascinating non-narrative experiment burrows into the center of his subject’s nervous system, meeting the creatures on their own terms in a remarkable plea for empathy that only implores carnivores to think twice by implication.”
Neon is giving “Gunda” a one-week virtual run exclusively in New York and Los Angeles on December 11, followed by a big-screen expansion in 2021. Check out the mesmerizing trailer below.