World Premiere at Hot Docs
The Ghosts In Our Machine
A film by Liz Marshall
April 28 – 2013
The Bloor Cinema
With dramatic impact, Liz Marshall’s The Ghosts In Our Machine gently reveals a stark reality that is hidden from our view.
Through the heart and lens of acclaimed animal photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, this consciousness-raising documentary shines a cinematic light on the animals we don’t easily acknowledge – the “ghosts” – are commodities within the machine of our modern world.
Over the course of a year, award-winning director Liz Marshall follows McArthur as she photographs several animal stories in parts of Canada, the U.S. and in Europe. Each story is a window into global animal industries: Food, Fashion, Entertainment and Research. All part of an epic photo project called We Animals (www.weanimals.org) now in its 15th year and shot all over the globe, McArthur has documented the lives of animals with heart-breaking empathic vividness and professionalism.
“Jo-Anne is a sympathetic entry-point into this complex subject matter”, says Marshall. “Through her eyes we experience animals as individuals; their plight and their sentience.”
Marshall’s approach will also appeal to people’s universal desire for heroism and storytelling, she has captured McArthur as an honest human on a mission.
“Jo-Anne’s challenges parallel the resistance within society to embrace the animal question. There have been other important movies made about animal rights, but I was determined to find a different approach, one that can both include and extend beyond the choir of those who are already concerned and active. My hope is to reach a broad audience.”
Even as the project was in development and being filmed, its credibility among progressives has made it a project to look out for (with kudos from the likes of Woody Harrelson, Jason Priestley, Barbara Gowdy and international animal and environmental advocates). Radiohead agreed to the use of their haunting song Give Up The Ghost for use in the film.
Already an admired figure in eco-circles for her previous documentary, Water On The Table, Marshall broadened her focus to include animals as part of the equation. “There is a growing movement to care for the planet, including animals, and to look beyond ourselves.”
This is surely a reason researchers, farmers, and factories are discouraged from giving the animals names. It would acknowledge them as beings rather than products. Empathy could follow.
The Ghosts In Our Machine also includes a visually stunning interactive flash story by award-winning artists The Goggles (Welcome to Pine Point; Adbusters). It is an online companion to the documentary; an immersive click-through narrative experience that explores the pages of protagonist McArthur’s photo-journal. McArthur is busily compiling her first draft of an epic photo-book in the film, and viewers of the interactive story can access her inner thoughts. It will premier online in tandem with the release of the film at www.theghostsinourmachine.com.
The Ghosts In Our Machine is produced by Nina Beveridge (The Idealist -James Beveridge Film Guru; The Calling) and Liz Marshall through their Toronto based company Ghosts Media Inc. It is produced in Association with documentary, Commissioning Editor, Bruce Cowley. Edited by Roland Schlimme and Roderick Deogrades, Cinematography by John Price, Iris Ng, Nick de Pencier, Liz Marshall. Original music score by Bob Wiseman. Executive Producer is Mila Aung-Thwin.