Doc ‘The Animal People’ Due on Digital Dec. 10 From Virgil

The feature documentary The Animal People will come out on digital HD Dec. 10 from Virgil Films.

From executive producer Joaquin Phoenix and directors Cassandra Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly, the documentary — more than 10 years in the making — follows the journey of six young activists who find themselves indicted as terrorists by the United States government. The reason for indictment is the activists’ leadership of a controversial open protest campaign aiming to close down the largest animal testing laboratory in the world. The activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact and systematically knocked down pillars of financial support for the lab. But when protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown underground elements, the FBI stepped in. The bureau began a campaign of surveillance, creating a model that would later be used against Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. According to the program, the United States Congress, under corporate pressure, rewrote laws in specific preparation for prosecution, potentially weakening free speech rights for all Americans.

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Featuring expansive interviews with the six activists spanning more than a decade, rare archival footage, including never-before-seen surveillance footage, wiretaps and government documents, The Animal People is a portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power.