Toronto Film Festival needs to hear our anger
Someone in another forum brought this to my attention. I have written a letter of protest to the Toronto Film Festival expressing my outrage and urging them to remove the film from their schedule. I think it would be wonderful if as many people as possible could do the same. If they get enough response, hopefully they will pull the film and it will send a clear message to the 'art' world -- animal torture in the name of 'art' will not be condoned or supported.
OMG, why on Earth would any allow that to be shown?!
That is Horrific!!! The need to be charged for that!
Banshee, where did you send the letter to?
It's appalling, isn't it? I sure it must be a hoax at first, it seemed too unbelievable that they would actually show something like that. But it seems to be for real.
I wasn't sure who exactly should get the letter, so I sent it to two of the email addresses they had published on their 'Contact' page.
I sent it to:
I'm copying and pasting this from VeggieBoards:
Lynnette Gryseels, Press Officer
Michele Maheux, Managing Director
Toronto Film Festival
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Tel.: (416) 934-3200
Fax: (416) 581-0214
To the organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival:
I was horrified to learn that Linda Feesey's film, “Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat,” is scheduled as part of the Toronto Film Festival. As you likely know, the film discusses the notorious case of 2001 in which Jesse Power, Anthony Wennekers, and Matt Kaczorowski videotaped themselves torturing a cat.
We would welcome efforts to raise awareness about this act of cruelty. However, you may not be aware that the producer, Linda Feesey, is an associate of the cat torturers. (For example, her 2002 film, Mr. Kafka's Holiday, starred Jesse Power's friend Jubal Brown, who was outspoken in his support of Power during the cat video case.) Casuistry is another opportunity for Power and his friends to defend their horrendous actions. According to the review in the Toronto Sun, the film features many apologists for the cat torturers. The killers show no remorse for their crime.
By including this film in the Festival, you are not only condoning, but encouraging Jesse Power and his ilk in their actions of extreme, premeditated, and illegal cruelty to animals. We urge you to remove this film from your program.
Please let me know as soon as possible what action you will take.
Thank you for your consideration.
TIFF contacts police over death threat
Caller threatens programmer over cat-killer documentary
By GAYLE MacDONALD
Wednesday, September 1, 2004 - Page R1
Toronto International Film Festival organizers called police yesterday after one of its programmers received a death threat from an anonymous caller protesting the upcoming screening of Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat.
Sean Farnel, who programs TIFF's Real to Reel program, received a call in the morning at his home from a woman who, among other things, threatened to "skin him alive" and "shove knives in his eyes."
The festival has received a steady stream of angry e-mails, faxes and phone calls since the Toronto-based Freedom for Animals posted on their website a letter asking TIFF to pull Montreal director Zev Asher's 91-minute documentary. The film investigates the infamous Toronto animal-cruelty case in which art student Jesse Power and two friends kill a cat, posthumously named Kensington by animal-rights supporters.
Power claimed his intention was to make a video that protested the unthinking consumption of factory-slaughtered animals by killing, cooking and eating a cherished domestic pet. The documentary quotes Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford as saying, "I know a lot about artistic freedom and it matters to me. But, I think that [killing a cat as an art project] is a crock of ****."
Yesterday, TIFF organizers vowed, in an interview with The Globe and Mail, that they would not pull the film from its program.
TIFF co-director Noah Cowan defended the work, saying "the film is a journalistic essay . . . classic investigative filmmaking in the tradition of Errol Morris that identifies the crime, and all the issues that surround it, and tries to come to a larger social understanding of what the debate represents."
Cowan added that he takes exception to the fact that many of the scores of people writing or calling to express outrage at the feature film have not even seen it. "A huge number of radical activists have decided, without seeing the film, the best way for debate to take place around the issue is to have the film banned.
"It's always nice to have civilized debate over films that people have seen, but it's a whole other matter when it comes to films people haven't seen."
Cowan acknowledged that there is disturbing imagery in the documentary, but no clips from the notorious cat video.
Power and his two friends, who made the so-called art video in 2001, eventually pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and mischief charges.
Suzanne Lahaie, co-founder of Freedom for Animals, said yesterday her group had nothing to do with the phone call to Farnel. "We are a non-violent organization. We have worked with [Toronto Police] 14 Division directly on this case from day one. We have a clean record and we do not promote violence in any way, shape or form."
Lahaie has not seen the documentary, and declined to participate in it when she was approached by the film's producer, Linda Feesey. "I did a background check on Feesey and found she's connected to Power and all of them."
She added that she and her supporters will demonstrate at the screenings, slated for Sept. 14 and 17. "Toronto Film Festival -- have some compassion, have some respect for yourself, and have some respect for Kensington," she said. Lahaie also vowed to contact many of the celebrities planning to attend the 10-day event, urging them not to come.
Yesterday, TIFF co-director Piers Handling said security will be beefed up at the Cumberland Theatre, but he has no intention of pulling the controversial film.
Farnel, visibly shaken by the phone call, defended his decision to place Casuistry in the lineup. "You can condemn the act and condone the film," he argued, adding that he has a dog "and loves animals."
Handling pointed out it is not the first time the festival has come under fire for screening controversial films.
In the mid-eighties, Catholics protested Jean-Luc Godard's Hail Mary because they heard there was a depiction of the Virgin Mary in a "state of undress," he notes. Protesters picketed it. "There are certainly films that are somewhat controversial that are shown at the festival, but that's exactly what the role of a festival is, to raise debate, to raise discussion, and to air viewpoints. It's the not the sole role, obviously. But in a responsible way, we should allow that to happen" he said.
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The bolding is mine. It appears as though the film is about the crime of the 3 youths who skinned a cat and that it doesn't actually show a cat being skinned...I was initially really, really appalled by this, but I get the impression now that the filmmaker might be comparing the social uproar and disgust over skinning a cat to people not giving a second thought over skinning cows etc...it's hard to say...
Has anyone actually looked at the movie synopsis? From what I could see, they are not showing a cat killing, but I could be mistaken. This seems to be more of a documentary about the animal cruelty case.
Here is the movie synopsis taken from the film festival website sponsored by Bell:
You'll find the word "casuistry" (pronounced kazoo-istry) in most dictionaries, just above "cat." It refers to a method of ethical analysis which takes into account the unique circumstances of particular cases. The term is often used disparagingly, in reference to specious justifications. Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat scratches its way beneath the surface of an infamous Toronto animal cruelty case, deftly exploring the opaque logic surrounding this macabre act.
Jesse Power, ex-vegetarian, was an art student when he conceived a new project. In May 2001, he enlisted two friends, Anthony Wennekers and Matthew Kaczorowski, to help him kill a cat. The intention was to make a video that protested the unthinking consumption of factory-slaughtered animals by killing, cooking and eating a cherished domestic pet - a feline posthumously named Kensington by animal-rights activists. Alerted by an outraged roommate, the police found the skinned and decapitated cat in the beer fridge. Kaczorowski fled and was apprehended in Vancouver two years later. All three eventually pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and mischief charges.
Fair warning: this is not an easy film. Incorporating interviews with the cat killers, as well as journalists, artists, animal activists and concerned citizens, Casuistry also contains disturbing imagery - though, mercifully, not the notorious cat video. Filmmaker Zev Asher eschews rote advocacy; rather, his documentary lurks curiously in murky terrain, playing like the punk B-side of an Errol Morris film. He places us in a unique space, one which vacillates between serious reflection, horror, transgression, banality, righteousness, humour and - mostly - paradox. This may be one of the most political films in this year's Festival.
We must have posted at the same time Sophie! That was the same impression that I got, but I had to read over the material a couple of times because it is kind of unclear.
I think the movie investigates an animal cruelty case that had the people skinning a cat. I don't think the movie is about showing the cat skinning at all
This sounds like more of a "court case" type film. If this is the case, I don't quite understand why they should pull the movie. It would be much different if they were showing the skinning movie that was made by the guys who got arrested. Then I would see reason to voice my outrage.
It does sound like there will still be some graphic images, perhaps to get the point across that was originally intended by the criminals when they first began their "art project"
I think it is controversial, and people are too eager to shut out anything that will make them think.
I say, let it run.
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