Debut doc director SHACs up with animal rights activists

Your Mommy Kills Animals

on July 20, 2007 by Chad Greene
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Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), an offshoot of the Animal Liberation Front dedicated to shutting down animal-testing lab Huntingdon Life Sciences, doesn't only distribute leaflets—they've also manufactured matchbooks with the slogan “Strike a Match” on the outside. Printed inside? The address of a laboratory.

Maybe it wouldn't be as big of deal if the motto at the top of SHAC's website didn't read: “Words mean nothing, action is everything.” Still, do over-the-top protest tactics make the members of SHAC—who, it should be noted, have never actually attempted to burn down the lab—terrorists? The FBI, whose investigation results in the indictment of a cadre of activists dubbed by their supporters the “SHAC 7,” thinks so.

But what do people in the animal rights and the animal welfare (a distinction made clear here) movements think? That's the question that debut doc director Curt Johnson spends much of Your Mommy Kills Animals trying to answer. Too much, really.

It isn't only organization that the mildly anarchic Your Mommy Kills Animals sorely lacks, it's also a sufficient number of sources. Two of the SHAC 7, Kevin Kjonaas and Josh Harper, are interviewed at length here, but no one of note on the prosecuting side is, so the reporting on their trial comes across as biased—as do Johnson's de facto indictments of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Neither organization agreed to be interviewed, so their critics—some of whom, it should be noted, seem to be making valid points—are essentially allowed to take potshots.

At one point, Harper confesses that the FBI's crackdown actually enhanced SHAC's stature within the animal rights movement. “No one gave a damn about us until they made us credible,” he says.

All too often, Johnson seems to be making a similar miscalculation, bestowing credibility on several second-tier activists simply because they were the only people who agreed to appear on camera.
Distributor: Vagrant
Cast: Kevin Kjonaas, Josh Harper, David Martosko, Michael Mountain, Jerry Vlasak, Paul Watson, Shane Barbi, Sia Barbi, Michael Bell, Peta Hellard, Maggie McGuane, Christopher Hitchens, P.J. O'Rourke and Ben Stein
Director: Curt Johnson
Producers: Curt Johnson and Maura Flynn
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 105 min.
Release date: July 20, 2007 Canada
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