It has been said that all art seeks to explore and understand the human condition. What distinguishes us as humans? How do we differ from our fellow animal companions? Is it our proclivity for self-reflexivity, our ability to acknowledge our place in the universe, and our endless desire to expand our knowledge? Perhaps. Yet, it is my firm conviction that it is our inherent drive for empathy that is what renders us truly humane. It is this aspect of our consciousness that director Kathleen Lowson wants us to explore, and her film Cry of the Innocent: The Voices That Can’t Speak is a call to action, urging us to ask and answer the question: who are you wearing?
Taking a unique soul perspective, the film is a psychological and spiritual study of the human condition focusing on the cruelty, absurdity, and frivolity of the modern fur trade. This unnecessary practice is a symptom, a sign that as a species, we are in need of elevating our consciousness, expanding it such that all life forms are treated with the dignity, love, and respect they deserve. Lowson impresses upon the viewer that “when we disconnect from the suffering of sentient beings, we disconnect from our own suffering.” This is a statement that merits deep reflection, as her words could not ring more true.
What makes this film so accessible and unique in its approach is that it does not employ shocking and gruesome imagery to communicate its message; rather, it unveils the reality of these innocent animals while providing empowering quotes from evolutionary leaders such as the Dalai Lama. It asks the viewer difficult questions, inspiring us to delve beyond our egos and into the deeper aspects of our psyches, to demand why it is that we as a species have tolerated the abuse and slaughter of animals in the name of fashion and temporary economic gain. It illuminates the reality that we have little to gain from such deplorable acts, and so, so much to lose. Namely, if we cannot recognize the pain and irreparable damage that occurs when we so callously end the life of an innocent, not only to the animal, but to our own humanity, how can we hope to bring about true peace and change in this world?
Lowson delivers this message with a conscious, gentle, and philosophical touch. She presents the viewer with the disturbing reality that countless animals must endure at the hands of certain humans. The film begins with the Canadian seal “hunt,” the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. Appallingly, it is subsidized by the Canadian government, bringing Lowson to encourage us to boycott the Canadian seafood industry. By empowering an industry that profits from death and cruelty to animals, we are only perpetuating a stagnation of the human spirit, rather than stimulating its growth and evolution.
She also brings to light the deplorable and unspeakably repugnant conditions in China, where dogs and cats are killed for their fur to create trinkets and trim on clothing. It may come as surprising to some readers, but Lowson stresses that even items labelled as “faux fur” or “synthetic fur” may actually be dog and cat fur. Depicting these beautiful creatures crammed by the dozen into stifling cages, these images are heartbreaking and difficult to watch, but it is crucial that we open our eyes to the horrific crimes that take place in these fur factories. Lowson calls on each of us to question why we invest in China, and to demand that laws be put in place to protect these vulnerable and defenceless animals who are unable to speak for themselves.
Over 50 million animals, from baby seals, dogs, cats, foxes, minks, rabbits, raccoons, and other innocent creatures are killed in the name of profit and fashion. And due to the globalization of the fur trade, it is virtually impossible to know the countries in which fur products are made. Even if a fur garment’s label says it was made in a European country, it is likely that the animals were raised and slaughtered elsewhere; in a majority of the cases, on an unregulated Chinese fur farm. These facts make clear the urgency of establishing laws that will put an end to these acts of cruelty, abuse, and murder. The time to evolve our consciousness is now, and Cry of the Innocent: The Voices that Can’t Speak is a monumental film and call to action that is a magnificent contribution to the animal rights movement.