37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

Unlocking the Cage

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After 30 years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise is making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. Using two years of behind the scenes footage, the documentary team of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker exposes Wise’s unprecedented struggle to break down the legal wall dividing animals and humans. Arguing to secure the rights of four chimpanzees in New York State, Wise maintains that cognitively complex animals have the capacity for limited personhood rights that would protect them from physical abuse. Signifying a groundbreaking shift towards the acknowledgement of animal rights, Hegedus and Pennebaker provide an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever alter our legal system. Discussion with directors D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, and subject Steven Wise, moderated by Mimi Riley (UVA)

Supported by HBO and WVPT


Sunday, November 6


1:00 PM


Other : St. Anne's-Belfield

Film Info

Director: Chris Hegedus, D. A. Pennebaker

Runtime: 91 min.

Genre: Documentaries

Year: 2016

Country: USA

Featuring: Steven M. Wise, Natalie Prosin, Liddy Stein, Mary Lee Jensvold, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh.