A silent documentary following the lives of farm animals in natural light is carrying a strong political message about vegetarianism and has received the endorsement of Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix.
Filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky who spent time as a child in a remote Russian village was four-years-old when he met a piglet. The pig became his closest friend and was killed. As an adult, Kossakovsky who believes he was probably the first vegetarian in the Soviet Union, realized that he had always wanted to make a movie about pits.
The film Gunda is shot with long takes in natural light and has no music score. The protagonist, Gunda, takes care of her little ones, accompanies them on a journey of discovery and then takes a break to recharge her batteries. She tentatively approaches the camera.
Viewers are left wondering: Does she know what her fate is? What might she be thinking? What does she think of us? Gunda is one of several hundred million pigs that inhabit the planet, alongside a billion cattle, represented in the film by two gracefully mooing cows, and over 20 billion chickens, exemplified here by a one-legged chicken stumbling its way through the world.
Whether rooting through the mud, swatting away flies or searching for worms, they all are heroes.
Kossakovsky is and remains adamant: after this film meat consumption is impossible. Phoenix, who has been outspoken about being a vegetarian, is the executive producer of the documentary.
Reviews have been glowing at the Berlin Film Festival where it debuted recently.