“Fish Tank” and “American Honey” director Andrea Arnold turns her camera on the days and ways of dairy cows for her first documentary feature, “Cow,” which manages to build more empathy for animals than any Disney movie ever could. IFC Films will release the documentary April 8 in theaters and on digital and VOD platforms. Ahead of the release, and exclusively on IndieWire, watch the trailer below.
First screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Arnold’s fifth feature focuses on a dairy cow named Luma residing on an English cattle farm. As Arnold’s camera follows Luma through birthing, milking, mating, and all the circumstances that make up the life cycle of this working animal, we see both the beauty and the hardships of her life. Centered on Luma’s point of view and rarely including any kind of dialogue, Arnold lets her striking images speak for themselves. It’s a visceral, profound, and mostly silent cinematic journey that asks us to acknowledge this particular bovine subject’s great services to the planet and to contemplate our own relationship to the natural world.
From IndieWire’s review out of the Cannes Film Festival:
The small miracle of director Andrea Arnold’s experiential documentary is that it enacts its simple premise in straightforward terms, but assembles them into a profound big picture. Her subject, a dairy cow named Luma, grows up under the tutelage of farmers who seem, for all intents and purposes, looking out for her best interests. However, with Arnold centralizing her subject’s gaze, even their kindly background roles come into question. As Luma endures the monotony of her routine, “Cow” grows into a stirring, often sad contemplation of a life reduced to resources.
Arnold apparently spent years filming Luma’s life, as she grew from calf to dairy cow, mated with bulls, and roamed with her herd. Cinematographer Mada Kowalczyk’s camera gets close to the action at every chapter, even bumping into its subject more than once, as her serene and sometimes even somber gaze fills the frame. Every plaintive “moo” hints at some measure of emotion lurking just beneath our full comprehension.
Watch the trailer exclusively below.