UPDATED with video: Russian-born director Viktor Kossakovsky says it was a monumental struggle to make his documentary Gunda, starring the title character: a sow raising her litter of piglets on a farm in Norway.
The idea was to show chickens, cows and pigs as sentient beings with intellect and feelings. Kossakovsky shot in black and white, and didn’t resort to traditional ways of tugging at viewers’ heartstrings.
“Many people made films about animals…but they were trying to film slaughter and put voice-over explaining how bad we are and put music with violin. But I said, no, no, no, we shouldn’t do this,” he says. “I said, no—no voice-over, no music…just watch and try to see how animals are, not how we think about them, how they are.”
Kossakovsky likens his leading lady to a great actress. “First of all Gunda was like Meryl Streep,” he says. “Whatever she does it was amazing.”
Gunda’s piglets were destined for the slaughterhouse. Kossakovsky doesn’t hide his disgust about raising animals for food.
“We are killing over 1 billion pigs a year. Plus we kill a half billion cows, plus we kill 50 billion chickens,” he notes. “It means our main activities [as humans] is to be killers. We can ignore it as long as we want but this is what it is.”
Check out the panel video above.