Chris Hegedus & D A Pennebaker
United States, 91 min
Notably famous for their musical docu- mentaries, Donn Alan Pennebaker and his wife Chris Hegedus here explore, in the ‘cinéma direct’ style that char- acterises them, the crusade led by the lawyer Steven Wise and his team – the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) – to change the legal status of an animal, from that of an “object” without rights to that of a “person” enjoying protection. Observing a lengthy process likely to bring about a fundamental change in our culture, Unlocking the Cage builds a story, as passionate as it is hectic, which depicts the lawyer’s efforts, supported by the declarations of primatologists from all over the world, to prove that certain animals with complex cognitive functions – such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants – should enjoy limited rights. By appealing to the “Habeas Corpus” principle, used historically, in particular in the fight for the abolition of slavery, Steven Wise attempts the impossible...