Unlocking the Cage

Loading the player ...

USA | 2015 | 91 minutes | Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker

July 8 - 14, 2016

SIFF Cinema Uptown  | Ends Thu July 14
Animal rights lawyer Steven Wise embarks on an unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans, by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform a chimpanzee from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections.

After 30 years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve Wise and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project are making history. Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Steve maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights (such as bodily liberty) that would protect them from physical abuse. Using writs of habeas corpus (historically used to free humans from unlawful imprisonment), Wise argues on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

Unlocking the Cage captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals.

  • Director: Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2015
  • Running Time: 91 minutes