Mathias Oskarson sees the Joaquin Phoenix documentary.
Gonda and one of her sects in the documentary “Gonda”.
Curriculum Vitae. documentary. USA / Norway, 2020. Director: Victor Kusakovsky. With: Gonda Pig and her unnamed cubs. Children are allowed. Height: 1.33.
Gonda is like no other Another animal movie. There is no voice for the narrator, no explanatory text signals, no music, no twisted play – other than time jumps that show the animals have grown up. Instead, the slow contemplative black-and-white film with long shots reminds us of works by poets such as Andrei Tarkovsky or Bella Tarr. The camera is always at animal level: we are drawn to their level and tepid pace of life where not much happens. In the center is the gonda pig and about ten cubs, but we also meet cocks and chickens as well as a group of cows on the spring pastures. In the movie, we get the impression that the animals are on the same farm, but Russian documentary veteran Viktor Kusakovsky – who also owns the camera – several years ago filmed on three different farms in Norway, Spain and Great Britain.
Kusakovsky, who claimed somewhat exaggeratedly that he was the first vegetarian in Russia, of course has an issue with the film and has garnered stardom from the animal rights activist who produced it, Joaquin Phoenix. As a kid in the 1960s, the director became a vegan after his beloved pet, a pig, went to the Christmas massacre – and now he simply wants to portray an animal, more intelligent than dogs and as intelligent as three-year-olds. “It’s not meat.” Kossakovsky has said of the movie star, “She’s a person,” and after following Gunda for an hour and a half to the tragic and heart-wrenching end, no one can say against it: Pig’s strong feelings go straight across the screen.
At the same time avoid Kossakovsky for humanization of animals. At first glance, one might suspect that he opted for beautiful black and white photography, but in reality – apart from the fact that it contributes to the timeless feeling – it creates a certain distance. The movie never falls into any gentle trap of a pink snout. Just a few minutes later, we also see how Gonda brutally killed one of his sects, which is very horrific because there is no David Attenborough out there to hold our hand and explain very common behavior: the sect is weak, cannot assert itself in competition over nipples and is unlikely to survive. But although the Gonda appears to live on a relatively small farm and can move about freely in the open air, it should be added that this delusional behavior is more common the more stress on pigs due to human presence and overcrowding.
Some people do not appear in Gonda, except that we do see one or two agricultural machines in motion and of course there are all these fences and buildings that restrict the freedom of movement of animals. In one scene, a poor, desperate one-legged chicken tries to squeeze through a wire fence. Gonda is perhaps the most important of all – a prison movie.
Premiere of “Gonda” in cinemas.
3 × animal documentaries
1. “Cat” (2016). Turkish filmmaker Seda Turun follows a series of homeless cats in Istanbul, and also films the people who feed them. It is available as a digital rental movie on many different streaming services.
2. “stray” (2021). Pendang to “Kiddie” where we instead follow homeless dogs in Istanbul, directed by Elizabeth Luo is shown in Panora in Malmö, where the show airs on June 14th.
3. “animal” (2012). Canadian avant-garde Denis Côté focuses on how animals in captivity interact with humans. Available for streaming on Drakenfilm.