Why you have to go see Animal, Cyril Dion’s latest film

Posted on November 29, 2021

In theaters this Wednesday, December 1, the documentary follows the initiatory journey of two teenagers, Bella Lack and Vipulan Puvaneswaran, mobilized for the climate. Cyril Dion, director of the successful documentary Demain avec Mélanie Laurent, chose to have them meet researchers, activists, entrepreneurs, heads of state to help them better understand the challenges corresponding to their generation. Sensitive and hard-hitting, the film is an ode to the living world and to committed youth.

Each generation has its fight, here is ours“, thus begins the documentary Animal which will be released in theaters this Wednesday, December 1. The film depicts the journey of two teenagers aged 16 at the time of filming, Bella Lack and Vipulan Puvaneswaran, who then participate in the mobilizations for the climate. “I think understanding is just as important as acting.“, advances Vipulan Puvaneswaran.”I want to understand the mechanisms to be able to find solutions“, again explains the teenager. “What is difficult is to convince everyone“, adds Bella Lack, emblematic figure of the British youth environmental movement. This is how the viewer embarks on this destabilizing, just and lastingly memorable documentary.

It opens with shocking, hard-hitting images that set an apocalyptic backdrop for our future if nothing is changed. “We wanted the film to take viewers through a whole range of affects, to feel the pain and anger of what we are doing to the living world.“, explains Cyril Dion on “France Culture”. Through the eyes of Bella and Vipulan, the spectator discovers this animal kingdom, greatly threatened, where more than 50% of the species have already disappeared in just 50 years. raises the question of the place of humans in this system where each species, no matter how small, is essential to the survival of all the others.

Between anger, wonder and astonishment, the two teenagers brought that simple answers do not exist. While citizens in India tirelessly pick up tons of plastic carried by the oceans, without being discouraged, Bella Lack wonders why they continue this titanic work. “You wash yourself well every day!“, then answers Afroz Shah at the initiative of the collective which has recovered 9000 tons of plastic on the beaches in just 3 years. Against the collapse of biodiversity, we must act, defends the one who brings together inhabitants, politicians, stars of cinema, but also school children.

A crisis of sensitivity

The journey continues behind the scenes of the negotiations in Brussels where the two heroes understand, powerless, that the lobbies dictate the laws. The two youngsters also perform on an intensive rabbit farm where the animals are crammed into tiny cages and cannot move or see daylight. By discussing with the breeder, the teenagers understand that he too is a prisoner of a system, of agro-industry, from which he cannot free himself. The contrast is striking between the intense emotion of the two teenagers on one side and the indifference of the breeder who picks up the corpses of rabbits without being moved, too accustomed to the ordinary violence of his exploitation.

We are experiencing a crisis of sensitivity, explains the philosopher Baptiste Morizot, also interviewed in this film. This meeting is decisive for the two teenagers. The author of “Manières d’être vivant” (Actes Sud) who pleads for “alliances” between men and animals makes them discover how to restore a peaceful cohabitation between the wolf, other species and Man. The magic of the film is also based on these key moments when the two teenagers discover and marvel at an animal kingdom that is still very much alive, as when they watch dolphins play in the open sea or in the savannah among elephants or giraffes.

The two teenagers acknowledged that the experience of the film transformed them. It’s a safe bet that the spectators will not come out unscathed. Like the latest documentaries recently released in cinemas (Walking on Water, Bigger than Us, Once You Know, etc.), the film will no doubt contribute to bringing out another representation of the world than that of consumerism and unlimited growth. It is in any case the wish of the director.

Mathilde Gola @Mathgolla

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