It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Video is composed of 30 pictures per second. That makes an hour and a
half video equal to 162 million words. "Peaceable Kingdom," the new
documentary by Tribe of Heart, has that much impact.
On Thursday night, ten members of the Vegetarian Society
of El Paso were treated to an advance showing by the producer, James
Laveck, who was the speaker at our society's bimonthly dinner on
Saturday night. The founders of Tribe of Heart, James and his partner
Jenny Stein, are the filmmakers responsible for the award winning
documentary "The Witness." That production told the story of Eddie Lama,
a New York construction worker who became an animal rights activist
because of his relationship with a cat.
In my opinion, "Peaceable Kingdom" is an even more
powerful film. It tells the story of Gene and Lori Bauston and their
rescue work at Farm Sanctuary. We are introduced to many of the
sanctuary's animals and told their stories.
The documentary also focuses on several former farmers
who gave up animal agriculture. Howard Lyman tells how he went from
being a fourth generation cattle rancher to a vegan advocate.
Interspersed with Howard's interview is footage of downer cows and we
make the connection between those animals and Howard, who was paralyzed
from the waist down by a tumor on his spinal cord. A one in a million
operation cured Howard and forced him to reevaluate his life. To see him
interacting with the animals of Farm Sanctuary is truly a moving thing;
he and them had been given a second chance at life.
"Peaceable Kingdom" also contains scenes of
slaughterhouses and factory farms. We are shown dumpsters filled with
live chicks, a stun bolt gun being used on a cow, chickens having their
throats slit and hung on hooks. The footage is not as gruesome as other
video I have seen but the general public will be stunned by the
In our discussion after the viewing, James pointed out
that the film would likely have a very different effect on people who
are not aware of the facts. The ten of us vegans who viewed it Thursday
had heard the information before and we know Howard and his story.
Still, we were all very affected by "Peaceable Kingdom." James Laveck
told us that he is still working on the final edit, making a few
technical adjustments, and that he hopes to release the film in the near
Saturday night, 100 members of our vegetarian society
watched 20 selected minutes from "Peaceable Kingdom." Thursday
afternoon, James showed "The Witness" to Dr. Steve Best's philosophy
class. With 450 students viewing the film, it was the second largest
viewing of the documentary ever.
On Friday, Steve took James across the river to Juarez,
Mexico. An animal advocate there had set up two showings of the Spanish
language version of "The Witness." The first was at a public college and
thirty-five people attended. The second showing was for a group of one
hundred veterinary medicine students. James told me that the audiences
were very receptive and many left their phone numbers on the surveys
that were handed out. He said many wanted to know how they could help to
improve conditions for the animals. One student told James that she had
been thinking about leaving vet school but that the film had inspired
her to stay.
Most of us who have been vegans and vegetarians for many
years made that change because of the printed word. Books by Peter
Singer, John Robbins and others caused us to change our lives. For this
generation and the ones to follow, it will be video that will effect the
greatest amount of change.
If you haven't seen it already, be sure to get a copy
of "The Witness," and be watching for the release of "Peaceable
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