The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal

Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind

Science on Screen in LA Tomorrow: Bestiaire followed by Q&A


Tomorrow night, Friday February 22 at 7:30pm, Cinefamily and and Cinespia Salon will present the latest installment of the their Science on Screen series at the old Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles. The evening's screening will feature an independent film called Bestiaire.

A truly breathtaking exploration of interspecies observation, Bestiaire is the rare documentary that’s subdued and meditative to the point of sensory-deprivation, but also suffused with so much depth and mystery that it’s impossible to turn your eyes away. Shot by celebrated documentarian Denis Côté in Hemmingford, Quebec’s Parc Safari animal sanctuary over the course of several months, Bestiaire simply captures extended tableau of Parc Safari’s creatures doing the actions that they do, as well as their human handlers in the act of tending to them. This visually stunning montage is especially remarkable because it has no deliberate agenda: no interviews, no narration, no sentimentality — and no overt political bent to color its scenes. Every moment is composed like a painting, and each subject is captured by the camera as though in the middle of intense, deliberate choreography. Lingering and drifting into each other in a startling way, these mini-chapters’ gentle intensity accumulates into an experience that will likely be cohesive in a completely different way for every person who takes them in. Potent stuff, in one of the greatest docs of the year.

Following the screening, I'll be doing a Q&A with Cinefamily director Hadrian Belove about the role of non-human animals in human culture, and then art gallery Mastodon Mesa will throw a back patio party featuring taxidermy, wildlife education, a drawing session, and more. I think that the film is an interesting commentary on typical natural documentaries, but I have my own opinions about whether or not the film truly has "no deliberate agenda." It should make for an interesting conversation.

The show also includes Rachel Mayeri’s short Primate Cinema: Apes As Family (which just premiered at Sundance 2013) and Nicolas Provost’s Moving Stories (the short which played before screenings of Bestiaire at Sundance 2012!)

Doors open at 7pm and the screening begins at 7:30. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased here.


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The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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