Review Of “Speciesism: The Movie”, A Film That Speaks For The Silenced

Anthony Armentano, exclusive to Global Animal

Director Mark Devries’ Speciesism: The Movie is an eye-opening, yet fresh take on the array of atrocities brought on by the factory farming industry. Most film reviews will note the horrific images throughout the farming industry, but it’s the director’s experiences that makes the film truly relatable. The documentary follows Devries on a personal journey, as he uncovers the truths behind the industry and experiences a change of heart based on those discoveries. After originally setting out to film animal advocacy groups and how they operate, Devries finds himself immersed in completely unexpected territory.

Devris admits he was blindsided by the direction his film was taking.

“I thought the movie was going to center on the tactics of animal advocacy groups like PETA, because that was what originally intrigued me. It was only after I visited factory farms, and spoke with people like Peter Singer, that I started realizing how much deeper this issue goes,” he said.

When making the documentary, filmmaker Mark Devries always knew he was on to something that intrigued him, but never knew the overwhelming response he'd receive from viewers. Photo Credit: Speciesism: The Movie
When making the documentary, filmmaker Mark Devries always knew he was on to something that intrigued him, but never knew the overwhelming response he’d receive from viewers. Photo Credit: Speciesism: The Movie

Although there have been a handful of great animal-centric documentaries released this year, Speciesism has something few other films can replicate. Devries’ personal journey makes the film special, and will undoubtedly do wonders in opening the eyes of people unfamiliar with the horrors of factory farming. The film does a lot to humanize the poor conditions farm animals face, especially once it delves into philosophical questions of morality.

As it’s title suggests, the film questions whether an animal’s life holds more value than a human life, and asks: just because we can control other beings, should we? Interviews from scholarly figures like Richard Dawkins, Temple Grandin, and Gary Francione take Devries’ arguments home, and add to the film’s credibility.

As evidenced by the film, factory farming is detrimental to animal health. Mother pigs are kept in gestation crates during the entirety of their pregnancy without enough room to move around, and chickens are quite literally stacked on top of each other, sometimes left with the decomposing bodies of other chickens who’ve died in their cage.

However, Speciesism doesn’t stop there. It also criticizes the factory farm industry for other consequences, including the affects farms have on neighboring communities. Devries documents the sickening waste disposal methods of corporate farms, showing how fecal matter makes its way into community water supplies, and poisons local citizens.

McDonald's said it will phase out pig farmers who use sow gestation stalls, which the Humane Society of the U.S. likens to "iron maidens." The pork industry doesn't see it that way. Photo credit: Humane Society of the United States
Gestation crates used to hold female pigs through the entirety of their pregnancy are one of the many cruel practices used by factory farms. Photo credit: Humane Society of the United States

In addition to sharing the negative influence factory farms have on animals and humans, Speciesism: The Movie points out a number of misconceptions that even animal activists have in regards to battling the industry.

Although the film acknowledges vegetarians have the right intentions when cutting out meat from their diet, it makes a strong case that adopting veganism is more affective, since dairy cows face more wrath at the hands of the industry than animals slaughtered for their meat.

In the film, Francione, a professor of Law at Rutgers University, wraps up this point quite nicely by saying there is “more suffering in a glass of milk or in a dish of ice cream than there is in pound of steak.”

Devries film will definitely be influential in recruiting future opponents of corporate farming, and in encouraging people to consider the consequences of their actions. Devries admits that he has been surprised by the response to the film.

“I certainly did not imagine, for instance, that so many people would be telling me the movie changed their lives.” 

Speciesism: The Movie celebrated its world premiere in New York City on September 18, and in Los Angeles on September 26. From late September to early October the film will also be shown in San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Check out the film’s website for more dates and ticket information.

Speciesism will forever be at the forefront of a movement in need of our support, and will be an integral source of generating future activists.

Watch the film’s trailer below: