Cinema Especiais

This is My Open Letter to the World

I may not be one to talk, since I am not an expert in many fields of conservation and animal activism. I’m just a mere film and television critic that is constantly on the move to be more conscious and more helpful in any way he cans. Through motion pictures and television series, I can have contact with the outside world, and therefore I am always challenged and fearful of animal cruelty documentaries. I was always a coward in wanting to know how my beef ended up being at my plate; I was always afraid of being shocked and, for many years, I wanted to be ignorant for all the things concerning the welfare of animals. “It is just human nature”, I thought to myself. But reality has changed.

Dominion Critica de Cinema

I am no longer afraid of understanding and watching the reality of the abuse human beings are inflicting upon other flesh and blood creatures, that are quickly disappearing from our planet, as much as others are bred in uncontrollable abundance for food or clothes. Many of these species have a short life cycle… and it’s time that I use my words and my film knowledge to help the world (if only some individuals) to be more aware and possibly change their minds regarding the mistreatment of animals in all the fields we, as a species, exploit them. I have no money, I can barely afford to pay for this website in which I am writing right now… I don’t have any political power like Leonardo DiCaprio, nor do I have the perfect English as Sir David Attenborough to enchant about the mysteries and wonders of the animal world. What I do know is that we need to change… And having no money at all doesn’t mean I can’t use my words to help in this matter.

I am appalled by my own species. We are so interesting and yet so cruel. We have been exploiting and destroying the environment in such a rate that we may no longer have anything to be appreciated for. Animals have been alongside us since we began to understand ourselves as a sentient being. Without horses or camels we wouldn’t know how to travel great distances; without cows, pigs, fish, chickens or even reindeers, we wouldn’t have what to eat, what to wear; without birds we wouldn’t know how to fly the skies… and yet this seems to be long forgotten, as we continuously keep demanding more and more of them. Killing them mercilessly for our own pride and to feed our feeling of authority. Since we are the only species capable of defending itself against every thing else in this world, we have an obligation to change.

Our immesurable meat consumption is destroying the planet. Every day a football field for cattle feeding grounds is burned in the Amazon rainforest. Every single minute or second, an animal is being murdered in cold blood. More cattle means more methane in the air, which not only creates a big ammount of pollution, it also helps to a faster heating planet, destroying polar regions and all the people and animals that live there. Statiscally, you can have that information by watching Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. But statistics don’t mean a thing if we don’t dig deeper into these massive meat and dairy industries all over the world. We need, in fact, to be struck so hard with all the cruelty that is inflicted in all the domestic animals we eat, that a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle seems to be the only solution to end this nightmare. You have Earthlings and Dominion for that. Two motion pictures narrated by vegan Academy Award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix that portray how incredibly shocking the backstage of these industries actually is. They are revolutionary, and astonishingly effective in giving us the horror we simply choose to ignore. You must think for yourselves that being ignorant enslaves you to not take action and not spreading the word about these problematic issues. You can be a voice to the voiceless. You can help change mentalities, to end cheap excuses of so-called “traditions” like rodeos or bullfights, million-dollar industries that use animals for entertainment such as horse and dog races, illegal fighting pits for animals to battle until they die, puppy mills and so many others…

If capitalism is annihilating all the animal kingdom, it may as well help make the difference. We were always fascinated by the wilderness. “Taming the wild” has always been the epicenter of many concerning topics like Chinese medicine proffecies or superstitions, circuses, decoration, clothing… there is almost no end to it. In 1994, Tyke, an African elephant, killed its trainer while going on a rampage through the city of Honolulu, Hawaii, after years and years of physical and psychological abuse by the ones that demanded her to perform tricks in a circus. How is the use of wild animals in circuses a source of knowledge to children? Well… they aren’t. In fact, instead of informing the audience of the dangers of having a wild animal being constantly forced to perform whatever it is they want them to do, they try to impress with whips and hard pressure that we can, in fact, tame the wild through domination. Animals are ticking time bombs. When they snap they become even more dangerous. No being should be used and assaulted as to become a form of entertainment to another species. Tyke’s story can be seen in short, and yet emotional, documentary feature called Tyke Elephant Outlaw.

But fortunately, wildlife circuses are a business in decline. However, elephants and rhinos are still being illegally killed for their ivory tusks and horns. Ivory is worth more than gold in China. And all of that for what? To have a decorative piece in your house? A life of an animal is not worth to have a prettier house. Unfortunately, as you can see in documentaries such as The Ivory Game or even Wild China, it is often a difficult duality we have to endure and understand. It is an overpopulated country with difficult political approaches, but it doesn’t mean it is fair for China to explore wildlife in such a poorly educational way. But what applies to China, applies to every other country, which still exploits animals and keeps creating non-approved scentific medicinal tendencies based on endangered animals to impress the rest of the world. And I think we can no longer ignore the fact that open markets are the reason why dangerous and contagious diseases started this whole pandemic thing.

We can not take this anymore and simply do nothing. We may not have the money nor the political power to make a stand, but we have a voice. We have that power. A power that is stronger and makes us a more conscious, if not better, society. The power we have to share and expose these atrocities to our history-long relationship with animals. It will bring us closer and maybe our words will reach someone who can actually change something and save the natural world as we know it. As for ourselves, the common people, we can only share our thoughts, try to reach the ones that can make a difference, and adopt a healthier behavioral lifestyle, especially by reducing our meat, dairy and fish-products’ consumption, and adopting a more vegetable-focused meal diet.

The Cove Crítica de Cinema

Another issue I will use to end this open letter is how zoos are still being highly frequented during these times. These are places where wildlife is more abundant than in their natural habitats nowadays. If anything, whether you loved it or hated it, Tiger King showed us the dangers of having egomaniacal people ahead of these types of environments. Instead of heading to a zoo of a man, who hurt or killed so many animals in order to profit, maybe just support the effort of relocating the animals to sanctuaries where they can have a quiet life until they die. Zoos and aquariums are often seen as a way to conservation, but this is just an excuse to use the animals to keep money flowing through the concept. A killer whale is not fit to live in a tank, where its entire habitat is the open ocean, and that has consequences, as seen in Blackfish. A dolphin may look happy, but do not fool yourselves by its endearing smile… they are stuck with limited space, suffering from human pressure to perform in front of large audiences. Tigers are often seen walking in circles in their cages suffering from a stress disorder of being locked up everyday. If during these difficult quarantine times I find myself going nuts walking in circles inside my room, I can’t imagine the suffering of any animal locked up for its entire life must feel. And they do feel.

So, if anything, my open letter to the world, is to remind every single person who reads it, that you can be informed about how humankind is losing its humanity towards our two, four legged companions. Wild or domestic, it doesn’t matter. We desperately need to change. And these are the movies that can actually help you reach these truths. I will not stop being more informed and changing my habits to help the animal world in any way I can. One person may not change much, but one at a time everyday is one step further. In the aspect that drives me here, right now, here are the movies you need to watch to be more enlightened:

The Ivory Game (2016)

Tyke Elephant Outlaw (2015)

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)

Sea of Shadows (2018)

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Earthlings (2005)

Dominion (2018)

Virunga (2014)

The Cove (2009)

Blackfish (2013)

Grizzly Man (2005)

Home (2009)

Racing Extinction (2015)

The Last Lions (2011)

Before the Flood (2016)

Chasing Coral (2017)

I will continue to watch as many as I can, but for a start, you can find here the most important aspects of how we need to change our behavior. Otherwise, more pandemics are coming, more bush fires, more oceanic pollution, more poaching, more overfishing, until the planet has run dry of anything else but our miserable existence.

Thank you so much for reading this and I hope it honestly helps you in any way to understand where we are going as human beings.

Yours truly,

Jorge Lestre