Joaquin Phoenix explains why ‘Gunda’ isn’t vegan propaganda. It could ‘just facts’


As he made their way through the pre-pandemic honours season last year, picking up trophies for his performance in “Joker, ” actor Joaquin Phoenix gave an increasingly powerful series of speeches.

Phoenix seemed to recognize the particular influence of the platform this individual was being given on a few of the world’s most celebrated levels, and he made the most from it with a string of relocating and emotional statements — addressing counsel and inclusion at the BAFTAs and selling a relocating message at the Oscars for animal rights.

Filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky did not see Phoenix’s speech that night, yet almost immediately his mobile phone began ringing with friends and collaborators telling your pet Phoenix’s message was the just like that of his latest skin flick, “Gunda. ”

Kossakovsky’s producer got the movie to Phoenix, who authorized on as an executive maker. In the film, which is at this point playing in theaters inside Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, there are no subtitles, simply no voiceover, not even music, just elegant black-and-white images associated with animals living their lives. A chicken raised inside a cage touches grass for the first time, a herd of cows is released into a field, and a pig named Gunda, on a farm in Norwegian, tends to her litter associated with piglets, nurturing them, caring for them, showing them like, making tough decisions plus exhibiting deep anguish whenever tragedy strikes.


Phoenix and Kossakovsky have even now never met in person because of the pandemic, but the pair lately got on a conference contact together — the Russian-born Kossakovsky from where he comes from Berlin and Phoenix from his home in Los Angeles. In conversation they make for a lively contrast, as Kossakovsky is given to expansive, slightly rambling explanations that often begin one place and go somewhere quite different, whilst Phoenix speaks passionately in sharp, focused bursts.

I’ve by no means experienced a film the way that will that I’ve experienced ‘Gunda. ’

Joaquin Phoenix

For Phoenix az, adding his name and lending his time to “Gunda” appears to be drawn from the same behavioral instinct behind his intentional use of his awards season spot light. If he often seems wary of the public eye, he is nevertheless going to make the most from it to bring attention to issues this individual cares about.


“I’m not sure about this, ” Phoenix said whenever presented with the idea connecting his awards run to his pet rights activism and support of the film. “I think with ‘Gunda’ it was just recognizing this incredible creative endeavor that was powerful in its cinematic qualities and also in what it was saying.

“I’ve never experienced a film the way that I have experienced ‘Gunda, ’” mentioned Phoenix. “And so I automatically felt like this was something that I wanted to get behind. It was just an honest reaction to something that I’d witnessed. That’s as much as I believed about it. I saw this film, I was struck by it, I’d never seen anything enjoy it and so I was honored to back up it in whatever way. ”

Joaquin Phoenix holds his Oscar at the 92nd Academy Awards

Joaquin Phoenix, an Academy Honor winner for “Joker, ” executive produced the documented “Gunda. ”

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Kossakovsky is a veteran documentary filmmaker in whose previous film “Aquarela, ” like “Gunda, ” produced the shortlist for the Academy Award for documentary function. He also edited “Gunda” and photographed the film, alongside cinematographer Egil Håskjold Larsen, after struggling for more than 20 years to raise the financing.


In a published director’s note, Kossakovsky mentioned, “I have always desired to make a film about the animals with whom we reveal the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I desired to make a film without making use of or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. ”

Both filmmaker and his new promoter are committed vegans, yet Kossakovsky explained what this individual meant by “vegan propaganda. ”

“It’s easy to push emotion, especially with the ending I have, and if I put violins or even cellos, music, something like that, of course , if I would make vegan propaganda, half the people would not watch it, ” said Kossakovsky. “I are not a politician. I have no right to talk with people who share my opinions. This is politicians doing this. They are talking with people who share their suggestions. I am an artist, I have to talk to everyone. Not only just who lives now, who lives after me.

“If you go to a museum, you don’t want to see propaganda. You want to feel something you’ve got a feel before, ” mentioned Kossakovsky. “It’s not to get a message — even if it will probably be very nice message you will be saying yes with. Museums are not just for messages, museums are for great art. And cinema too. ”


[People] understand the value of their dogs or their cats. They understand that they have unique personalities and they share videos of them. But in some way there is a disconnect when it comes to our own food. And it’s just because of what we’ve already been indoctrinated with.

Joaquin Phoenix, az

In talking about the motion picture, Kossakovsky extols some of the overpowering statistics on the sheer numbers of animals killed each year with regard to food production around the world and the vast amount of natural resources consumed as part of that procedure. With the world population continuing to grow, those numbers furthermore continue to climb.

“And that’s not vegan propaganda, that’s just details, ” interjected Phoenix.

“I understand Victor is an artist and he developed this film to be experienced. But for me, there is a quite strong message behind it, ” said Phoenix. “For individuals to experience animals the way I believe they do with their dog, they understand the value of their dogs or their cats. They understand that they have unique people and they share videos of these. But somehow there is a detachment when it comes to our food. And it’s just because of what we’ve been indoctrinated along with and what we’ve been trained. As Victor is saying, it has become completely out of percentage with what is sustainable.


“It’s not just a fringe group of people that are really soft plus tree-huggers and they just worry about everything. It’s just f— facts, ” said Phoenix, az. “We’re destroying the world plus our children, our grandchildren are likely to pay for it. And I don’t believe that we are aware of it, many people aren’t. And so it is completely, I think, one of the great issues that we are facing today that should be addressed because we are operating out of time. ”

A pig faces the camera

The still from the documentary “Gunda, ” directed by Victor Kossakovsky.


There was reported to be a recent rise in interest in veganism , whether for ethical, health or even environmental reasons, along with an increased demand with regard to plant-based meat alternatives . While the movie never makes any explicit overtures concerning veganism, the ideas driving its images of animal life are never far away.

“I think it’s great that people are becoming aware, but it really is a time to use it, ” said Phoenix, noting the vast amount of property used to raise livestock and exactly how many gallons of water it takes to create a single pound of beef. “And I think that we hear those stats sometimes, and it’s almost difficult to comprehend because the numbers are so vast, we’re referring to trillions of animals. And I understand that a lot of people don’t really have any moral qualms regarding killing an animal. And I obtain that. I mean, I don’t, yet OK, fine.


“But I think that when your personal choices are having such a detrimental impact on everybody’s environment and lifestyle, then it’s time for a real hardcore assessment of how we’re living our lives. And it’s going to require some sacrifice. Sometimes people state, ‘Well, I don’t feel I am at my optimum health once i eat vegan. ’ And honestly, I think I may differ than anyone else on this call, I say ‘f— out of your optimum health, ’ due to the fact we’re talking about just the minimum amount health of the planet so that all of us survive. ”

In the first minute, the first farm, we opened up the door and Gunda simply came to me. She had been so friendly. And she looked over me, and it was immediately like talking to me.

“Gunda” movie director Victor Kossakovsky

A question about how he discovered the specific pig named Gunda that will stars in the film prospects Kossakovsky to tell a story in regards to a family in South America he met while working on one more project. They cared for a beaver as a pet. Then he recalls how he had initially planned to do six months associated with research before starting production, beginning at a farm just beyond Oslo.

“In the first minute, the first farm, we opened the door and Gunda just came to me, ” said Kossakovsky. “She was so friendly. And he or she looked at me, and it was immediately like talking to me. I said to my manufacturer, ‘We don’t need to lookup. ’ Producer said, ‘What has happened? We have time. ’ I said, ‘Look at her, she’s talking to us, she’s definitely talking to us. ’


“Gunda actually chose myself, not that I chose the girl, ” said Kossakovsky. “There were many pigs right now there, but she came to myself and she started looking to me, so friendly. So it had been no other choice. We met for a purpose, for a reason. ”

A man clasps his hands

Writer-director Victor Kossakovsky at the 2019 Sundance Motion picture Festival in Park Town, Utah.

(Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Kossakovsky and his collaborators built an enclosed pencil with a small opening entirely around just large sufficient for the lens of the digital camera, so that Gunda could be observed uninterrupted with her younger. A disco ball was actually used to light the space, giving a softly dappled effect.

“The first line I published in my short script about this was we have to film this particular with full respect and provide them space if they require. Never push, never interact, never distract, ” the particular filmmaker said of the type of the film. “So obviously we have to be very soft and we have to just notice what they feel and not get rid of this. The same with any other subject, if it’s a pig or a cow or a human. If you come as well close, too fast, you might destroy the atmosphere, you might demolish trust. ”


Phoenix az recalls watching nature documentaries from a young age and states he’s never seen anything at all quite like “Gunda” before. As much as he supports the information the movie is trying to convey, this individual also found the experience emotional plus moving.

“Honestly I think what is unique concerning this is it really is, in my opinion, a work of art, ” said Phoenix arizona. “And it’s hard for me personally not to impose my opinions on people about this since I feel like it’s so important and we need to wake up towards the reality of what we are doing to animals and also to the world. But I think that it can be a film that allows the viewers to have their own personal experience of these animals. And in many ways, I wouldn’t wish to affect that. I would just encourage people to experience this film. It’s not what you anticipate. It’s not an animal rights motion picture that you might be familiar with. It really is a strong experience. ”