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Movie Reviews: Your Mommy Kills Animals

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Hot Docs
Your Mommy Kills Animals
(Docu)
By JOHN ANDERSON
An Indie Genius Prods. presentation. (International sales: Vagrant Films Canada Distribution.) Produced by Curt Johnson. Executive producers, Earl Easley, John P. Hamilton, Nathan Deal, Dennis Banks. Directed, written by Curt Johnson.

With: Paul Watson, David Martosko, Jerry Vlasak, Bo Derek, Dana Harris, Joss Stone, P.J. O'Rourke, Christopher Hitchens.

A miraculously evenhanded treatment of a snarlingly divisive debate, "Your Mommy Kills Animals" tries to bring the animal-rights issue to heel, and there aren't enough muzzles to go around. There are no good guys or bad guys in this propulsive film, but there's enough in the way of odd characters and bad behavior to amuse and inform auds who only marginally care about the content. A theatrical release seems as obvious as a pit bull, with meaty ancillary prospects lying in wait.

Titling his film after a gore-filled PETA comicbook, helmer Curt Johnson isn't just reporting on the skirmishes between "bunny huggers" and mustache-twirling medical researchers. He's examining the internecine battles among people seemingly on the same side: the animal rights' activists vs. the animal welfare advocates, the shelter operators vs. radical confrontationalists (who set up outside the home of, say, a board member of Bank of America because the bank holds stock in a company owned by a corporation that also oversees a firm that tests mascara on rabbits).

Johnson also gets into the gray matter of moral superiority, allowing the likes of physician Jerry Vlasak to make his case for violence against doctors involved in animal research, but also allowing more temperate voices to ask whether becoming a terrorist organization really helps anyone or anything.
One of the apparent motivations for the film was the FBI's ranking of animal-rights activists as the nation's No. 1 domestic terrorism threat. Johnson obliquely addresses the possible political motivations behind such an assessment, but never prosthelytizes either way.

His wide-ranging sources make it pretty clear that blinkered self-righteousness and unwavering belief in one's cause don't much differ, whether you're a member of the Animal Liberation Front or Al Qaeda. The corollary is whether anything less than the most militant action will move corporations away from committing cruelty to animals.

Here there doesn't seem to be much argument -- no one advocates vivisection as a recreational sport. But at the same time, certain seemingly reasonable people do ask whether life as we know it -- for diabetics, for instance -- would be possible without the medical advances made through animal testing and animal products. Or whether PETA should really be euthanizing approximately 85% of the animals they "rescue." Or whether "people-hating' is really part of the animal controversy ("We all hate people," quips author P.J. O'Rourke). In the end, it's a legal, ethical and moral minefield through which Johnson skips nimbly.

Widescreen HD lensing is beautiful, putting a clear sheen on a cloudy issue.

Camera (color, widescreen, HD video), Anthony Rodriguez; editor, Greg Browning; music supervisor, Johnson; sound, David Canada; sound, Darin Heinis, Tom Lindquist; associate producers, Shane Barbi, Sia Barbi. Reviewed at Hot Docs Film Festival, Toronto, April 23, 2007. Running time: 106 MIN.


The latest review, from Buzzine in January 2007, is at the bottom:

http://www.cinephelia.com/top_2006.asp

Cinephelia.com's Top 10 Indie Films of 2006

1) Your Mommy Kills Animals (Curt Johnson)
2) The Eternal Present (Otto Buj)
3) Frankensteins' Bloody Nightmare (John R. Hand)
4) Mercy (Patrick Roddy)
5) Head Trauma (Lance Weiler)
6) Nails (Andrey Iskanov)
7) Creatures From The Pink Lagoon (Chris Diani)
8) The Black Dahlia (Ramzi Abed)
9) Dolla Marte (Bill Zebub)
10) The Hamiltons (The Butcher Brothers)



Feb 13, 2007

From Real to Reel: Five African American Men First Film Project Equals 2008 Academy Award Buzz

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) - Five African American men (Dennis Banks, Nathan Deal, Earl Easley, John Hamilton and Anthony Simien) from Los Angeles known as Four Corners Capital have stepped into the world of film as Executive Producers.

What is unique about these African American men is the film choice they have decided to back, which is starting to pique the interest of various movie industry leaders and film festivals around the world. Among the movie industry's attention to their first project, much talk has been suggested of a 2008 Academy Award. They are not following a traditional film path of "the hood", "rags to riches", or "church-going" stereotypes.

These five young brothers have elected to make others aware of the number one domestic terrorist threat in the United States through the documentary Your Mommy Kills Animals. Your Mommy Kills Animals was conceptualized and directed by Academy Award-winning Producer/Director Curt Johnson. It takes an in-depth look at the animal rights movement and the FBI's recent declaration; calling animal rights activists the number one domestic terrorist threat to the United States.

Scheduled for a Fall 2007 release, Your Mommy Kills Animals is an overall look at the animal rights movement showing the good, the bad and the ugly in the movement. This film also covers the landmark case against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (better known as the SHAC 7) and the resulting conviction, which literally has changed the course of activism in this country. What is even more intoxicating about this film is its social justice argument on "freedom of speech" issues, comparisons to the "civil rights movement," effective protesting measures, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) government agency's response to animals after Hurricane Katrina.

Although this documentary delivers arguments from both "Animal Welfare Advocates", as well as, "Animal Rights Activists" the film provides a real examination of:

* What our tax dollars are wasting away on?
* Does "free speech" exist for everyone?
* Are organizations' beliefs true to the core?
* Is profiling being taken to another level?
* Who truly benefits in the animal rights movement?

What's being said about Your Mommy Kills Animals?

"Run, don't walk to see this film. This is one of my Top 5 favorite films of the decade." --Larry Flynt

"This film's an easy Oscar contender." --Stan Lee

"A great no-holds-barred film." --Ain't It Cool News

"A brilliant documentary" --Portland Weekly

"A smart piece of investigative journalism." --Portland Mercury

"The bravest American film I've ever seen in my life." --Cinephilia

If you would like more information, schedule an interview, or film screening contact Dennis Banks at (323) 445-7506 or dbanks90005@yahoo.com 
CONTACT:
Dennis Banks
323-445-7506
dbanks90005@yahoo.com 

 


Title: Your Mommy Kills Animals
Director: Curt Johnson
Country: United States
Rating: 9
Reviewer: C Dempsey

Most of the reviews I write are written sitting in front of the idiot box, back hunched over with my fingertips trying to pump out magic words that will describe my experience with the film. On special occasions though I will first sprawl out on the floor, my notebook in front of me and pen in hand. I will then give a film a hand written first draft that I hope increases the chance that I successfully get out everything I want to say about the film. This ritual only happens after I see a film that captivates my mind on multiple levels, only after I have experienced art. "Your Mommy Kills Animals" qualified for the ritual.

"Your Mommy Kills Animals" is the bravest American film I have ever seen. Curt Johnson tackles some heavy hitters with his film. The most daredevil aspect of the film is the second sub-plot of Johnson's feature. The documentary introduces the viewer to a group of activists known as SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). Here Johnson invites the viewer to experience the persecution of some of its members who are led to the chopping block like the very animals they attempt to protect.

I've only seen one other film, Lukas Moodyssoon' "Terrorists", that spoke out against the truth of what is happening with protestors today. "Terrorists" brought to light what happens today when people speak out against the world leaders. What happens now when you try to rally the mass to think in a different way. After watching "Terrorists" I was dumb founded. Dumb founded because I felt like the film should be seen by Americans and I believed no American filmmaker would ever have the balls to attempt making a film that spoke out so loudly. I was very wrong, "Your Mommy Kills Animals" is a information bomb. Most don't realize the legal definition classifies almost all protestors equal to those who use bombs and guns. After 9/11 the laws and views changed and benefit those in power far more than most realize. In today's society, and especially in America, it seems that if you protest anything that interferes with big business you are a terrorist by definition. The young fire to question is being smothered. "Your Mommy Kills Animals" documented the very thought that has scared the Hell out of me over the last few years. To all of you that vote red whether it is for freedom or greed, you are helping our society turn carnivorous upon itself. With each law passed under the tag "we are making the world a safer place" you are helping exterminate the very ideals America was built upon. "Your Mommy Kills Animals" is brave enough, and strong enough to put this in the viewers face. Imagine that, a brave American film. How long has it been?

I could go on for days with this review. I haven't really reviewed the film, just spouted out feelings that I felt after viewing it. That is true art though. I'm going to try to wrap it up now, just hang with me. I would like to note that the film, since it is built upon animal cruelty, is hard to sit through. Unless of course you have a Dick Cheney soul. There are dozens of unsettling images that haunt you as the film progresses. The images are required though and nothing is over the top or uncalled for. "Your Mommy Kills Animals" should be a model for quality documentary filmmaking. Most documentaries focus on one subject and leave it at that. This film sucks you into a film that focuses on animal cruelty while weaving in and out of our perceptions of the media and the laws under which we are governed. Simply put, a brilliant and unforgettable experience in film. Experiences like this remind me why I love film. I would also like to add that some may write this film off as having an agenda. For those I challenge you to watch the film and then tell me what the agenda is. There isn't one.

"Your Mommy Kills Animals" is currently in distribution mode. This film will create some buzz an you will hear about it again. In the meantime though I highly suggest you keep up with what is happening with Curt Johnson and his film on the MySpace page for "Your Mommy Kills Animals".


Went to a screening here in Minneapolis for Your Mommy Kills Animals.

I had no desire to see this film when I found out that it was a documentary (More into Talledega and X-Men), but my boyfriend got invited and being the more intellectual, wanted to check it out. It was his turn to pick so I had to go. When I found out that the guy who made this one also did Michael Moore Hates America really made me not want to see it since I figured it was going to be some conservative bullshit.

The director, Curt Johnson came up before it started and said that he hoped people would stay after the film ended and tell him everything that was wrong with it and that was it. That surprised me a little since most times they tell you to enjoy and all that so the audience were a little thrown and we all just laughed.

This thing opened up like a horror movie and just had me riveted. I was expecting to see the usual thing that those animal rights people do with lots of animal cruelty and blood that makes you just want to cover your eyes, (its in there, but very sparingly), but nothing like any of those PETA videos my boyfriend forced me to watch. This felt more like a movie like how Flight 93 was. I've watched a few documentaries that just bored me to death, but you don't have time to get bored or look at your watch with this one.

It covers the animal rights movement and fuck, but the real story of the film follows a group of radical animal rights activists called the SHAC 7 (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) that were indicted and on trial for domestic terrorism. I don't think much of the audience were animal people since everyone sounded pretty shocked when you learn that they weren't on trial for doing anything like physical violence but for their website which the government said was inciting violence. I'm hoping I'm explaining this right because its fucking scary to know that this trial happened and I never heard about in the press.

What I really liked about the film was that it never takes a side which usually seems to be the case in documentaries lately and why I don't watch them. I will say that after watching this film, I saw that you guys had given a good review for the directors last film Michael Moore Hates America so I picked it up and saw that it was pretty balanced. Your Mommy Kills Animals is way more balanced and at times you find yourself agreeing with some of these radicals and other times you want to hit them, but what I left was feeling that while I might not agree with their tactics, they don't deserve to be labeled the number one domestic terrorist threat to this country.

Theirs a shitload of celebrities in the film, but the main people who I really followed the most were Josh Harper and Kevin Jonas and a funny as hell guy David Martosko who made some great points for the other side of the issue. Seeing Jessica Biel is pretty cool though.

Everyone in the theater just sat through closing credits (and I'm usually one heading out to take a piss) and were real quiet and then they started talking about how shocked there were that they didn't know about the trial. Curt Johnson came up and took questions, and I was really surprised that he was pretty cool and his humor reminded me of Kevin Smith when he does his. Someone mentioned Michael Moore Hates America and he talked about how he took a lot of shit for signing on to do that one, but he was really proud that it turned out to be much more balanced and even earned 2 thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper.

The only complaints the audience mentioned were that they wanted more of the SHAC guys in the film and several people asked why Huntingdon Life Sciences weren't interviewed. The director said that he tried for several months to get someone from there and the FBI to have that side speak for itself, but they turned him down.

I think this film will open a lot of eyes and it definitely shows that you cant always judge a book by its cover. I had a very different idea of animal rights people, and I definitely understand them a lot better now.


I was recently given the opportunity to see a 13-minute trailer for the new untitled documentary by Curt Johnson (Oscar-winning THOTH) about the animal rights and welfare movement in the United States.

Based on this footage it looks like we're going to get an action-packed in-depth, no-holds-barred, all-angles-covered look at an issue millions of Americans are passionate about -- some much more extremely than others.

Expect scenes of covert operations, shit blowing up, great escapes and courtroom drama, along with an array of experts, activists and celebrities weighing in with their distinctive observations and experiences.

There were a couple of hilarious moments in the trailer, too, actually, but I honestly had no idea the unrestrained degrees many people are going with this specific crusade. Some of the celebs in the film include Joss Stone, Bo Derek, Jorja Fox, Ben Stein, James Cromwell, Joe Mantegna, Woody Harrelson, the Barbi Twins and Willie Nelson, who is also contributing a song to the film, just to namedrop a few.

Despite earlier attempts of my trying to pry the doc's title out of him, Johnson, whom producer Don Murphy incidentally has nicknamed "Cujo," took a break from editing the film in Minneapolis to answer a few other questions about the film.

[ELSTON GUNN]: How did you get involved with this project?

[CURT JOHNSON]: After reading that last year the FBI determined that the number one domestic terrorist threat to the United States was animal rights activists, I was really curious how they got chosen over Al Qaida.

[EG]: Do you or the film take a particular stance on animal rights activism? How are you approaching this?

[CJ]: Like all my films, I'm going right down the middle and talked to people on both sides of the issue. I had no idea how big the animal rights movement was going in to this project, but we wound up going to 15 states in 90 days and shooting over 70 hours of interviews. It was a crash course in every aspect of the movement from the educators to the extremists.

I never do much research on any of my projects so that I can go in without any bias and learn as I go as an outsider and let the audience make up their own mind. Most people have lumped everyone into one big group in the movement, and the film shows that there are several different factions within the movement that are very different. Kind of how in the civil right movement there was Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, the animal rights movement is similar in that structure.

[EG]: Were you able to get access to any archival footage of some of these groups in action, or of companies and organizations that endanger animals?

[CJ]: This turned out to be a total coup and has made all the distributors very happy that all the underground groups such as the Animal Liberation Front interviewed for the film and gave over 200 hours of footage of their actions. This includes everything from liberating animals from medical labs and farms to setting off bombs and arson. All the makings for a good action movie without the CGI. I also got a lot of animal cruelty footage and I can already tell that we'll be getting an R rating for the graphic stuff.

[EG]: So, you're getting a lot of cooperation from all the different animal rights groups?

[CJ]: At first there was some nervousness when I started making cold calls to the extremists groups. Since they've been wiretapped, followed and infiltrated by the FBI for several years now, they didn't know if I was an undercover fed trying to use a new tactic to get inside. I will say after being approached by several undercover feds and having my hotel room broken into twice made me understand their nervousness.

Some groups have gone out of their way to stop people from talking, but that backfired since it made people within the movement want to talk more. I guess the more you try to force someone to not do something, it only makes them want to do it more.

[EG]: I know there are a lot celebrities who work closely with animal rights groups. How many have you interviewed many for the film?

[CJ]: I had no clue how many celebs were involved with the animal welfare/rights movement, and the film's a real who's who with over 40 celebs in it ranging from Moby, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Tippi Hedren, Linda Blair to P.J. O'Rourke and Drew Carey.

The big surprise came when Shane & Sia Barbi -- The Barbi Twins -- called me out of the blue when they heard about the film and really helped me out with the animal rescue groups and the really big organizations who've now gotten behind the film.

[EG]: Does the recent trial involving the SHAC7 (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) factor into the film?

[CJ]: The SHAC trial will be a thread through the film since this was a very historical case and a test model for the government. I couldn't believe that the media didn't pick up on this since the outcome will have a huge impact on the future of both activism and free speech in this country.

[EG]: Will you have a narrator or an on-camera personality throughout the film?

[CJ]: No, I'm working with the same editor that I did with MICHAEL MOORE HATES AMERICA, and neither of us are very fond of the on-camera personality stuff so it's been a great challenge to let all the people that were interviewed tell the story rather than a narrator. Plus, the idea of spending 10-12 weeks in edit looking at myself is not at all appealing.

[EG]: Is it true that you and the crew transported dogs from L.A. to Utah?

[CJ]: Right before we were heading out to Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah, they asked us if we could bring two rescue dogs out with us from LA. That was fun for the crew and I, but it was hard giving them up when we got there since it's so easy to get attached to dogs, and Chico and Maximus were just the coolest dogs. They even stayed with me in my hotel room that night.

After that I realized that we could also use the film to help get some of the older dogs in the film homes, so we're using the Barbi Twins' website -- thekittyliberationfront.org -- to show pictures and descriptions of the dogs that are up for adoption. Several celebs like Gloria Estefan and Beth Ostrosky shot videos of them with the dogs as added incentive for people to adopt them.

[EG]: When can we expect to see the film?

[CJ]: The film will be finished by the end of this June and it will be in theaters Spring 2007 since we've got a lot of really big people behind us to help promote it.

[EG]: And, finally, where can I find the best burger in Minneapolis?

[CJ]: Matts Bar is the best and for a veggie burger, Brenda's is killer.

Stay tuned...

Elston Gunn
elstongunn@hotmail.com


http://www.buzzine.com/contentengine/ publish/buzzine/reviews/article_2072.html

Movie review, January 2007, by Staci Wilson.

Todays terrorists have a soft spot for animals

Although kindness toward animals is their common ground, there is a huge rift between animal rights activists and animal welfare advocates.

It is my understanding that welfare people believe animals may be used for almost anything (including "working" as circus performers, horse- and dog-racing, seeing-eye aids, some experimentation), as long as it's done humanely; rights people do not believe that animals should be used in any way (this includes experimentation and food-sources of course, but even the riding of horses and the keeping of house pets is akin to slavery to the strictest of rights protestors).

Your Mommy Kills Animals, a Curt Johnson documentary, explores humans' treatment of animals from both the welfare and rights sides. (The title of the movie is borrowed from a comic book that PeTA hands out to children.)

This film does show some pretty harsh footage, including the beating, bludgeoning, evisceration and skinning of animals � however, it also shows happy pets, idyllic settings in no-kill shelters, and people hugging bunnies. It's balanced 50/50, but whatever you consider to be the most "outrageous" parts are more likely to resonate with you personally.

Mostly, Your Mommy Kills Animals focuses on qualified people talking about the issues. The film touches on everything from the history of the humane societies, to experimentation, to rescues in New Orleans after Katrina, to the furrier business, to Hollywood's activism, to freedom of speech and the politics of terrorism. There are some very well-spoken people on both sides of the issue (Shane Barbi, Mike Mease, and especially David Martasco come off particularly informed and competent), and it's interesting to see all kinds of people being allowed to say whatever they want without being put on the defensive by the filmmakers. (Some of the bigger money-making groups, such as PeTA and The Humane Society of the United States, chose not to participate � it's easy to see why, once you've viewed this unforgettable film.)

Your Mommy Kills Animals does not have a point of view, like a Michael Moore movie. It is not at all dramatic, like a Werner Herzog documentary; it's not arty like The Kids Stays In The Picture; nor is it emotional like the works of Ken Burns. Although it's presented in a static manner that mostly focuses on talking heads, Your Mommy Kills Animals will more than likely still draw you in with its unbiased approach � and, no matter where you stand on the issue of animals, you will definitely learn a lot about people.

For information, and show times, please visit: http://myspace.com/yourmommykillsanimals


Barbi Twins Talking About Your Mommy Kills Animals
download as an .flv file

Interviews about animal rights and Your Mommy Kills Animals (.flv files)
Celebrities
Original Transformer
Margot Kidder (Superman's girlfriend)
Jennifer Pryor (Richard's wife)
Kevin Jonnaas (SHAC 7)
Beth Ostrosky (Howard Stern's wife)

 

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