Facing Animals is a documentary about the complex and often bizarre relationship between man and animal. Why do we look away from millions of animals in industrial farms while pampering and humanizing others?
We see the world from the perspective of pigs, chickens, cows and dogs who are the protagonists in the film. Man is the antagonist. During the whole film we are very close to the animals and the stunning, often confronting, visuals take the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions. Chicks are thrown onto a conveyor belt, a lady is cuddling a cow in a meadow, piglets are screaming while their tails are cut off, dogs are blessed in a church.
The filmmaker had unique access to industrial farms. The Dutch agribusiness produces an astonishing 97 million chickens, 12 million pigs and 4 million cows, with animals often living in miserable conditions. Because of the extraordinary way of filming, these anonymous animals are given a face. Being pets, the dogs in the film are treated completely differently: like mates, partners or even children.
Filmed with a photographers’ eye, the cinematography is strong. Additional small HD-cameras were placed between the animals on conveyor belts and in cages, giving a feeling of closeness and intimacy. Because the visuals speak for themselves, the film is without commentary. The sounds of the animals and the ambient noise form the soundtrack of the film.
As the film progresses, the contrast between pampering and occasional cruelty increases, sometimes causing confusion. What makes some animals more equal than others? What is still ‘normal’ in the relationship between man and animal? The film isn’t meant to be a pamphlet against intensive farming, but is questioning our own behavior towards animals.