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The Animal People (2019)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 10 December 2019 (USA)
A chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power.




Credited cast:
Steven Best Steven Best ... Self (professor of philosophy)
Heidi Boghosian Heidi Boghosian ... Self (National Lawyers Guild)
George W. Bush ... Self (archive footage)
Brian Cass Brian Cass ... Self (HLS) (archive footage)
Jake Conroy Jake Conroy ... Self (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty)
Darioush Dagdar Darioush Dagdar ... Self (HLS, 1996-2002)
Alexandra Deyo Alexandra Deyo ... Self (SHAC Philadelphia activist)
Daniel Andreas San Diego Daniel Andreas San Diego ... Self (rumored)
Katie Fedor Katie Fedor ... Self
Darius Fulmer Darius Fulmer ... Self (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty)
Lauren Gazzola Lauren Gazzola ... Self (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty)
Ray Greek Ray Greek ... Self (former animal researcher)
Josh Harper Josh Harper ... Self (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty)
Paul Hetznecker Paul Hetznecker ... Self (attorney)
Tim Hitchins Tim Hitchins ... Self (SHAC Florida activist) (as Tim Hitchens)
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Fifteen years in the making, this feature documentary - Executive Produced by Joaquin Phoenix - follows the journey of six young Americans who find themselves targeted as terrorists by the US government for their involvement in a controversial protest campaign. Seeing the future of social movement organizing, the activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact as they systematically knocked out the pillars of financial support that kept the company in business. But when letter writing and protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown activists, this corporation and the government formed an alliance to destroy the group. The FBI began an unprecedented campaign of surveillance in preparation for prosecution, creating a model that would later be used against Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Congress, under corporate influence, rewrote laws and bent the definition of incitement in order to accomplish the prosecution ...

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Did You Know?


Self (professor of philosophy): Social change always happens through a wide variety of forces. It's always pluristic. And people wanna revise history. They wanna say, "Well, Gandhi won the Indian independence movement." Well, I'm sorry, Gandhi didn't win it alone. There were forces that were violently attacking the British, and that helped pressure the British to leave India. Dr. Martin Luther King did not win the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by himself. Standing behind him was Malcolm X. It wasn't hippies that stopped the ...
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Features SHAC: Time for Action 2 (2002) See more »

User Reviews

Well Done But Incomplete
19 May 2020 | by caramia2002See all my reviews

Warning - has some very rough animal testing lab undercover footage. I was very upset after watching this and crying. We should see this stuff, but not for kids.

As a vegan, I watched this with interest. But, as a counterculture teen in the 60s, I never agreed with violence to achieve means to an end, or even the smallest advocacy of that. As I saw with MLK, the government will jump on anything, anything, to discredit a movement which is not in agreement with the corridors of power or political strength. So why give the govvy the ammunition of even a hint of a connection to violence or, gasp, putting in on your website? It's just stupid and counterproductive. Do certain things that go on make your blood boil? Yes, but you can't do as you will and assume that your intentions will win out. Against the US government? These activists are just naive and stupid. Saying you support the violence, although you don't condone what they did? This is language parsing in the extreme. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar, as has been shown by non-violent movements in the past.

If SHAC truly had a legit 1st amendment case, don't you think the ACLU would have represented them? They didn't. The SPLC has compared SHAC to anti-abortion extremists.

Who do SHAC members think has agreed that SHAC's voice gets to be heard, unrestrained? Then why shouldn't neo-Nazis be able to recreate the actions of the notorious Nazi "brown shirts", who went about terrorizing Jews and other marginalized groups? Why can't extremists of any stripe go around collecting money and proselytizing on every street corner? Where does it stop? Like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, you have to be responsible with your speech.

This doc is not really complete, and while even showing a little footage which seems to support the government's claim, doesn't always compare both sides. It only shows one political stance of the House hearings on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (bi-partisan bill, authored by 2 GOP and 1 Dem), doesn't delve into the close association between certain genres of punk rock (anarcho-punk, straight edge) and militant animal rights politics, the Hare Krishna, and militant veganism, which links militant groups like SHAC, Earth First, and Earth Liberation Front, etc.

Are there hideous things which go on in slaughterhouses, farms, and labs? Yes, and that is the primary reason I am a vegan and I am steadfast in that, for myself, even though disabled and limited financially. Do I still materially contribute to the bottom line of these industries? Yes, but we all do. It's a huge and often expensive job to rid your household of every cleaner, article of clothing, and toiletry that is tested on animals or otherwise irresponsible.

Does the US government abuse its citizens? A loud yes. Do they often meet peaceful protests with heavy violence, often death (Kent State)? Yes. Is big business out of control and unregulated? Yes. Does money = power in Washington (and other seats of power)? Yes. But none of this justifies SHAC's idiocy or connections. You can't fight city hall with no brains. Of course all of this needs to stop, but you have to be intelligent about it.

Mainstream animal rights groups have succeeded in raising our awareness on many issues. Getting cosmetics companies to claim "not tested on animals" (but that is getting watered down, for, yep, China) and "no-kill" animal shelters another. SHAC has not been responsible for any of this and took things over the line, mostly having no intelligent leadership, or trying not to have any central leadership. Thanks a lot, SHAC, for making animal rights and vegans even more silly than many think they are.

I do NOT agree with the assertion, by the academic or whatever he was, that "so-called" non-violent movements were due to other, violent forces, esp the 60's ones I lived through. Took off a point for that weird guy. I won't be too hard on Joaquin Phoenix for executive producing this film (among 12 other producers), as that usually just means the money, but he is an animal rights activist. He has been involved with other good animal rights docs, so I am kind of surprised with this one.

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Release Date:

10 December 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Animal People See more »

Filming Locations:

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA See more »

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