Thirteen hostages in Ukraine have reportedly been released unharmed after Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy assented to a rather unusual, movie-related request: Promoting the 2005 animal rights documentary Earthlings, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. This the president did via the presidency’s Facebook page in a short video, although that video was subsequently deleted once again after the hostages had been released.
The hostage-taker, identified by local reports as a middle-aged animal rights activist with a criminal record for gun possession, was armed with guns and explosives when he took over a bus, which led to a long, 12-hour standoff with police. Among his various demands was the request that Zelenskiy turn more people toward the 2005 documentary by Shaun Monson, made in partnership with Phoenix. According to the film’s synopsis, Earthings covers “pet stores, puppy mills, and animal profession, including footage obtained through the use of hidden cameras to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely on animals. Then, the film draws parallels between speciesism and racism, sexism, and more.”
Considering that the recommendation of Earthlings was made under a little bit of duress, and immediately deleted, one wonders if the hostage-taker is now wishing he had inserted some kind of “no take-backs” clause into the verbal agreement.