Unlocking the Cage | Chicago Reader

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91 minutes

Documentary
If a corporation is a person, why isn't a chimpanzee? That question and many related ones about consciousness, autonomy, and personhood are at the heart of this thought-provoking documentary. Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker (The War Room) follow Steven Wise and his Nonhuman Rights Project through a series of legal proceedings and on visits to petting zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, and other places where highly intelligent animals are housed; numerous examples of animals demonstrating communication skills, showing empathy, and acting out of grief make for compelling arguments. What constitutes self-determination and what responsibility humans have toward other sentient beings can't be answered by a single film, but this is nevertheless a valuable contribution to an ongoing and still-shifting conversation.

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