The Animal People
From Executive Producer Joaquin Phoenix. More than ten years in the making, the feature documentary THE ANIMAL PEOPLE, from directors Cassandra Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly, follows the journey of six young activists who find themselves indicted as terrorists by the United States government. The reason for indictment: the activists' leadership of a controversial open protest campaign aiming to close down the largest animal testing laboratory in the world. The activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact and systematically knocked down pillars of financial support for the lab. But when protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown underground elements, the FBI stepped in. The Bureau began an unprecedented campaign of surveillance, creating a model that would later be used against Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The United States Congress, under corporate pressure, rewrote laws in specific preparation for prosecution, potentially weakening free speech rights for all Americans. Featuring expansive interviews with the six activists spanning more than a decade, rare archival footage – including never-before-seen surveillance footage, wiretaps, and government documents, The Animal People is a chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power.
Director Denis Hennelly, Casey Suchan