Behind the Mask, directed by Shannon Keith, was released in 2006, but it is still relevant in 2011. The documentary is about direct action taken to liberate animals by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The FBI says the ALF is the number one domestic terrorist threat, despite the fact that they have never harmed anyone. The ALF is known for freeing animals from laboratories and fur farms. They are also known for the damage that they cause to the property of animal abusers, such as arson and graffiti. Behind the Mask gives a look into the perspective of those that will risk their own freedom, and sometimes lives, for the freedom and lives of animals by showing interviews with some prominent figures in the animal liberation movement such as Ingrid Newkirk, John Feldman, Ronnie Lee, Kevin Jonas, and other activists.
The film brings up the question of who is more of a terrorist: those who are saving lives and preventing the people who are harming animals from harming them again or those who are skinning animals alive, sewing monkeys’ eyes shut to study blindness in human infants, or subjecting innocent lives to other cruel methods of “scientific” testing? The animal liberation movement is compared to the Underground Railroad and the film contains clips of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandella.
The activists involved in the Animal Liberation Front are inspiring and their stories from the movement are touching. It is said several times in the film that major change does not happen by writing letters to government officials and rarely is major change created by following the law. Whether or not you agree with the statements presented, you should see Behind the Mask if you have not already. It is incredibly informative about the Animal Liberation Front and the animal liberation movement as a whole.
The film won Best Documentary Feature at the Venice Film Festival, Independent Features Film Festival, and the Santa Carla Valley Film Festival in 2007.
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