(TORONTO, ON) – Unlocking the Cage is a Hot Docs documentary that examines, from a technical legal perspective, what rights certain cognitively advanced animals should have in the United States. The documentary focuses on various chimpanzees in captivity in the US.
Lawyer Steven Wise is an animal human rights activist with a 72-member animal rights team, the Non Human Rights Project, which is making judicial history by filing lawsuits of habeas corpus, attempting to transform an animal from a thing to a person with legal protections.
A habeas corpus is a sacred legal right that queries whether humans are subject to lawful detention and is very well paid attention to by courts in the United States. Wise argues that certain animals, such as chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins, are autonomist species akin to humans therefore deserve the protection of the law.
Wise is a Harvard Law School professor so he is no crackpot. His logic and use of judicial precedent that has included using human characteristics to describe, ships, corporations, deities, and rivers as human may somewhat confuse the non lawyers.
What will not confuse the non-lawyer is the barbaric treatment of animals by those who profess to call themselves humans.
It simply bedraggles the mind, if not sickens it, to witness the barbaric treatment of chimps by humans. If these people claim to be humans, what are we?
Wise is not actually successful, but is prying the door open. This documentary hopefully portrays what Wise refers to as the End of the Beginning. The documentary seems to show that animal welfare legislation is behind the times.
Wise is focusing on the end of the beginning, but that beginning may just point to becoming a vegetarian. An interesting question that is not ever asked to Wise.
Personally, meat is a rarity for me. As long as squid and cod have no human rights I am comfortable in that niche.
(Unlocking the Cage, directors Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker, 2015, USA, 92 Minutes, screened May 2,3, and 8 at Hot Docs in Toronto)