This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
He may have played an unhinged incel in Joker, but IRL, Joaquin Phoenix is a much nicer person. He’s also, famously, a committed vegan and animal activist. Over the recent awards season, the actor spoke out about his decision to wear one suit in an effort to be more sustainable. His speech at the BAFTAs called for more people to adopt a plant-based diet and railed against the cruelty of animal agriculture. He even managed to fit in a cameo at an Extinction Rebellion protest in London. And it seems Joaquin’s next project is much in the same vein: he's going behind the lens to produce a film about the sentience of a pig. Yep.
The actor has turned Executive Producer on Gunda, a documentary he’s creating with Russian filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky. The completely dialogue-free film, which recently debuted in Berlin, is shot completely in black and white and is already being called “a visionary case for veganism”.
The 90-minute film is simple -- it follows the main pig herself (Gunda) as she potters along, going about her daily life on the farm accompanied by her adorable piglets, a one-legged chicken and two cows. Without music, blockbuster editing, narrative or the anthropomorphising of animals we’ve become accustomed to in film, Gunda is instead a simple, empathetic portrait of life meant to make carnivores think twice before eating meat.
“Gunda is a mesmerising perspective on sentience within animal species, normally -- and perhaps purposely -- hidden from our view,” Joaquin said of the film.
“Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.”
Watch the trailer here and never eat bacon again.