NOTES FROM THE FILMMAKERS
Each year, ten billion animals are raised for consumption in the U.S., mostly on sprawling, industrialized farms, where virtually no federal laws mandate how the animals are treated. Though guidelines exist, state laws are ineffective. As a result, animals are frequently subjected to what many consider cruel treatment and inhumane conditions in the interest of economic efficiency.
Three years in the making, Death on a Factory Farm follows the undercover investigation of Wiles Hog Farm by the animal rights group The Humane Farming Association (HFA), and the resulting court case against it.
Acting on a tip from a farm employee that animals were being abused, HFA turned to an undercover investigator, “Pete” of Dealing Dogs, who wore a hidden camera while he worked as a farmhand at Wiles. The film follows Pete from his initial entry into this dangerous world of abuse to the raid and trial that followed.
About the Filmmakers
Death on a Factory Farm was directed and produced by Tom Simon and Sarah Teale. Find out more about the film at www.hbo.com.
“The film has set up the courtroom scenes so your emotion runs with HFA and Pete. The defendants look snidely, their lawyers wily, and their fellow farmers, who understandably resent such investigations, seem ignorant (“I don’t think we can have these types of people come in here and destroy our business,” offers one dairy farmer outside the courtroom). The over-used piano, the personal melodrama, and the sheer horrors exposed here don’t detract from the central point, however. And that is, that the farmers don’t come up with their cruelties in vacuums and they’re not “bad apples.” While many do follow humane practice guidelines — even if, as the film points out, “Virtually no federal laws mandate the humane treatment of farm animals. Most state laws are weak and rarely enforced” — many others treat their commodities as such. In exposing this behavior, both viscerally and sentimentally, Death on a Factory Farm inspires your outrage, a first step toward changing those laws.” – Cynthia Fuchs. PopMatters. Death on a Factory Farm. 16 March 2009
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