EXCLUSIVE: Making its World Premiere here in Telluride is a devastating new documentary that chronicles the massive industrial production of food in a way anyone who sees this horrifying-but-
enlightening film will not soon forget. Narrated and produced by Natalie Portman, Eating Animals, from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, may just turn you into a vegan. Portman was actually one of those who read it, and she contacted Foer about a possible film project on it. The resulting movie received a standing ovation at its first screening here at the festival.
There have been many docus on this subject, but none so determined to pull back the curtains of this different kind of alleged corporate industrial pollution, the pollution of our foods in ways that haven’t been spelled out with quite this kind of graphic illustration before. Director Christopher Quinn’s covert camera manages to get inside the strictly off-limits food processing plants, something the documentary points out is illegal and could send one to prison. How’s THAT for consumer protection? “It was a risk, and it’s weird to be called a ‘terrorist.’ It was a real eye-opener to actually see what farming was, which was people wanting to run from you, not
wanting you to see they system that was in place, including these vertically integrated structures. They know deep in their core it is not right, but I actually think there is a lot of hope in that, the fact that they still know a guy with a camera shouldn’t be coming around here because it is wrong,” Quinn told me at the vegan reception the film had here Saturday. Foer told me he is actually happy that the film version veers away, in some respects, from his book. “I was kind of actually really thrilled about all the ways it departed from the book. It covered a lot of things I wish I had known about when I wrote it. Also a moving image can capture somebody’s heart in a way that is different, not better or worse, than the way that a book can. Just to be able to linger on a farmer’s face, and certainly the images inside farms, is incredibly persuasive but can also be challenging,” he said.
This is clearly a film hoping to make a difference and has the strong endorsement of famed American chef and activist Alice Waters, who is also here promoting the movie which she and Portman hope will find a wider audience outside of the festival circuit. However, viewers with weak stomachs, particularly in regard to graphic images of animal abuse and suffering, should be warned that this film doesn’t try to hide what is going on behind these closed doors in what I would call America’s NO-Heartland. Powerful, powerful stuff that opens our eyes to the horrific conditions and poisonous atmosphere for all the living things that go into making food, a cautionary tale indeed. To see a scene from the film just click on the link above.