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Still from 'NoVoice No Choice' by Zelly Restorick and Thom Kofoed

Anim[al]ation

HOT’s Erica Smith spoke to Zelly Restorick about a short animation she has produced with her friend,Thom Kofoed.  ‘NO VOICE, NO CHOICE’ is a film about the export of live animals and their journey.

Q: What made you decide to make the film? Tell me a little bit about you and Thom, and how you work together.
ZR: I’d been involved in campaigning against the export of live animals and heard someone mention making a film and I volunteered to do it, asking Thom to be involved. It’s a self funded project.  Independent, which is the way we like to do things.

Thom and I have known each other for years and have worked on creating and producing other short films, mainly short comedy sketches, but this one has a much more serious theme and message.  It’s been really well received, which has been hugely rewarding for us.

The animals – sheep, lambs and calves – spend many, many hours in the transportation lorries, travelling from a farm or market in the UK, as far as Spain, Italy, France or Holland. From what I heard from the people who’ve been campaigning for nearly 20 years on this issue, (who’ve had some major successes), the animals aren’t always treated very well throughout their journey.  They sometimes can’t get to the water in the lorry, if there is any; there’s nothing to eat and conditions really can be very over-crowded, distressing and painful. Also, they’re not always treated very kindly along the way.

My research brought me to the conclusion that proving the animals suffered was an important issue, which is hard to determine, as they cannot be asked. However, farm animals are protected under both European and UK laws as ‘sentient beings’, which means they feel pain, experience distress and suffering, as well as more pleasant emotions, the same as we do… It’s just that the law isn’t always respected or upheld.

The purpose of the film is to ask people, if this was your journey,  do you think you would have suffered? I thought about using real people as actors, possibly silhouettes, but then Thom suggested animation and we went this route. We felt it would be less distressing.  No point making a film no-one will watch.  It’s a simple, clear format and we’ve been told it’s very effective in conveying the message.

Q: When I watched it, the parallel I couldn’t help but think of, was sending people to concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Was that metaphor intentional, or something that presented itself to you as you were working on the narrative?
ZR: We became aware of this possible comparison as the film progressed.

HOT’s Kim Stallwood, animals campaigner and academic, explained to me that books have been written comparing the animals’ journey – either live export transportation or the journey from farm to slaughterhouse – to that taken by people under the Nazi regime in Germany or in other countries or situations.  Maybe the connections are domination, subjugation, force and fear?  One group denying another their rights.  There is also a link between the final destinations, as people were transported to their deaths and treated inhumanely.

Animals have feelings and consciousness, just like us.  I believe that if more people knew what went on behind the scenes, some might re-consider their choices of what meat they eat – or maybe whether they eat meat or not.  Evidence shows that stress and distress experienced by the animals has an effect on their flesh and bodies, which in turn has a consequence on the meat produced.  So it’s not only thinking about the animals, it’s considering what you’re putting into your own body.

Q: If people are moved after watching this film, what would you suggest they do to campaign for better rights for farm animals?
Currently, this issue is receiving a lot of attention, so the time is ripe for taking action.

The final port to still be exporting animals live is Ramsgate, who have recently been put under legal pressure by the exporter to resume the sailings, even though they would prefer not to.  The animals are transported live for various reasons: some people prefer their meat freshly slaughtered; the taste of British meat is highly regarded; some animals are slaughtered as part a religious ritual – and the calves go to veal units, not necessarily into very good conditions.

As I said, the campaign to stop this trade is very strong at this time and if people want to do something and take action, please contact KAALE (Kent Action Against Live Exports) or TALE (Thanet Action Live Exports), Compassion in World Farming, who work to improve the conditions of farm animals worldwide, Animal Aid, the RSPCA or contact the ministers at DEFRA or your MEPs, who are the decision makers.

We genuinely hope that the film can make a difference. The animals don’t have a voice or a choice in this issue, so it’s up to those people who care to do something on their behalf.  We currently live in a time when we, as individuals joining together, can genuinely have an enormous impact on issues such as this.

Thank you – on behalf of the animals – for this opportunity to talk about the film  and to publicise what’s happening.

You can view Zelly and Thom’s film on YouTube: No Voice, No Choice.

Posted 09:12 Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 In: Campaigns

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