Unlocking the Cage, a highly-anticipated new film that documents the historic battle by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to win legal rights for nonhuman animals, premiered in New York City on May 25th.
The film’s directors, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hedegus, who, according to the New York Times, have made the “most memorable documentaries of the past half-century,” followed their subject, Steven Wise, for four years to record his effort to achieve personhood for several chimpanzees in New York being held captive in laboratories and roadside zoos.
“We are grateful to Pennebaker and Hegedus not only for making such an excellent film about the groundbreaking legal work of Steven Wise and the NhRP but also because their involvement will expand the reach of the film to mainstream audiences worldwide,” said Kevin Schneider, Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project.
On the day before the worldwide premiere at the Film Forum in Greenwich Village, the New York Times gave the film a favorable review:
“It is hard to watch Unlocking the Cage without being somewhat swayed by the arguments — or at least impressed by the sincerity — of Steven Wise, a leading animal-rights lawyer. . . Mr. Wise has argued that animals should have the legal status of persons. What this means is not that they should be classified as human, but rather that their rights should be acknowledged and protected under the law.”
The review contains a strong pro-animal rights message: “It is also possible that practices and attitudes now widely taken as natural will look arbitrary and cruel to future generations, and that the future will arrive sooner than many of us expect. It wouldn’t be the first time.”