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March 20, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
“I want people to see them,” says Liz Marshall. She is talking about ghosts. No, not the supernatural, but the hidden and forgotten beings that end up in our shopping malls and on the shelves in our grocery stores.
“When we step back and look at the greater picture and see that 90% of the planet consumes animals,” she explains, “we are struck that this is a real dilemma.”
These ghosts become visible to audiences in her gut-wrenching documentary film, “The Ghosts in Our Machine.”
“I wanted to make a film about the ‘animal question,’” she explains. “I became very aware about how complex it is.”
Marshall has been an activist for many years, and while developing her thesis in film and media studies in the early 90s, she “recognized during that phase that [she] was very interested in complex human narratives and in people that were making a difference in the world.”
Marshall describes a scene in the film where the protagonist, photographer Joanne MacArthur, is walking down the street in New York, amidst a sea of people.
“All around her are the bits and parts of animals,” Marshall explains. “This reminds us that individuals can really make a difference because they have all throughout history.”
As much as she is an activist, she is equally a filmmaker.
“I love the language of filmmaking,” she says. “I want to create a marriage between form and content.”
Marshall, who is the film’s writer, director, producer and cinematographer, sees her film as a “bridge designed to engage all these different facets of such incredible and inspiring movements.” Her greatest “‘Aha!’ moment,” she recalls, is when she realized she could bring different activist movements together in her filmmaking.
While Marshall had been a committed vegetarian for some time, her professional focus was not on animal rights. She began making documentaries about human rights and though she maintained her vegetarian diet, she “lost touch with the ethics because [she] wasn’t focused on those [animal] issues.”
Then about 10 years ago, Marshall found herself in a new relationship with a vegan and animal rights activist.
“I became reintroduced in a more radical way to the world of animal rights and veganism,” she says. “I wanted to devote myself to creating a film that would be accessible to a broader audience.”
— Molly Drake
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