Joaquin Phoenix Executive Produces Animal Rights Activism Documentary

The film made its debut at a high profile film festival over the weekend
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The actor is a passionate animal rights advocate (Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals)

The actor is a passionate animal rights advocate (Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals)

Veteran vegan Joaquin Phoenix has executive produced a film about animal rights activists.

The Animal People, which has been 15 years in the making, looks at how anti-terror laws have been used by the US government to target animal rights activists.

The documentary, which was co-directed by Denis Henry Hennelly and Casey Suchan, premiered at the Austin Film Festival this weekend.

The Animal People

The film, which is described as 'a chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power', covers the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty organization, which was formed in the UK in the 90s before expanding to the US, where members found themselves under police investigation.

According to the film's official synopsis: "[It] follows the journey of six young Americans who find themselves targeted as terrorists by the US government for their involvement in a controversial protest campaign. Seeing the future of social movement organizing, the activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact as they systematically knocked out the pillars of financial support that kept the company in business.

"But when letter writing and protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown activists, this corporation and the government formed an alliance to destroy the group. The FBI began an unprecedented campaign of surveillance in preparation for prosecution."

'Fundamental questions'

Speaking about the documentary, Phoenix said: "This film is about much more than just this case.

"It’s about fundamental questions concerning free speech, social change, and corporate power that have never been more urgently relevant in our world.”