Joaquin Phoenix Stars In Short Film To Highlight Link Between Meat, Dairy And Climate Change

'It's really a call to action. I did it to raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry’s effect on climate change'
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Joaquin Phoenix stars in the PSA (Photo: Guardians of Life)

Joaquin Phoenix stars in the PSA (Photo: Guardians of Life)

Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix has starred in a new short film about the climate crisis - saying he wanted to take part to highlight meat and dairy's impact on the planet.

Guardians of Life, which is directed by Shaun Monson, who also helmed Earthlings, additionally stars Rosario Dawson, Matthew Modine, Q’orianka Kilcher, Oona Chaplin, Adria Arjona, and Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes.

Public service announcement

The two-minute film is the first of a 12-part series planned by Extinction Rebellion, in collaboration with Mobilize Earth and Amazon Watch, each telling a 'story about the most pressing issues facing the human species as we move into what most scientists, politicians and the public see as the make or break decade for the survival of life on the planet'.

Set in an Emergency Room, the story acts as a metaphor for the plight of the Amazon and its indigenous communities, and an alarm call for deforestation and biodiversity loss taking place in every corner of the globe, as a result of devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and storms.

Animal agriculture and climate change

"It's really a call to action. I did it to raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry’s effect on climate change," Phoenix said in a statement.

"The fact is we are clear cutting and burning rainforests and seeing the negative effects of those actions worldwide. People don’t realize there’s still time, but only if we act now and make sweeping changes to our consumption.

"We can’t wait for governments to solve these problems for us. We can’t wait until the election to try to make these changes. We have a personal responsibility to make changes in our own lives and act now."

The film’s female lead, Q’orianka Kilcher added: “As an indigenous actress I feel a strong responsibility to use my public platform to help amplify the voices who are seldom heard including all the indigenous defenders around the world who are the protectors of our Mother Earth, the Amazon Rainforest, and all the biodiversity and animals.”

'Story as a metaphor'

Shaun Monson, the film's director, said that previous documentary-style PSAs had failed to move audiences to take action, so he used 'story as a metaphor' instead of focusing on deforestation, ice melting and species extinction, we use a story as a metaphor.

"The Amazon has been called the lungs of the world, or the heart of the world, but instead of documentary footage we proposed an ER setting with doctors and nurses trying to save an unseen patient with systemic heart failure. The twist is not only who one of the paramedics is, but what they were really fighting to save all along."

Multiple organizations funded the film. These include the UK-based Catalysts Foundation, as well as the global Climate Save Movement. The website for the film www.mobilize.earth aims to raise awareness, action and donations, which will go towards the work of Amazon Watch and Extinction Rebellion.

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