Australian farmers and animal activists are already bruised from a long and bitter brawl over kangaroos. A confronting new movie heading for our shores is likely to kick off fresh fury.
Visceral footage of kangaroos being culled is on its way to Australian screens after shocking sold-out American audiences over the past couple of months.
Early US reviews warn that Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story details brutal, confronting animal slaughter. Others, meanwhile, describe it as anti-meat advocacy “that's most likely to convince you if you already believe”.
One prominent Western region farmer losing thousands of dollars of pasture a year went one further, saying while he hadn’t seen it yet he was resigned to the film being most likely suited to a “Pitt Street audience”.
“Even now, from what I have read, I would confidently say that it will be (the filmmakers’) story, the farmers’ story, and the truth probably somewhere in the middle,” said Angus Whyte, Wyndham Station, between Broken Hill and Wentworth.
Kangaroo is currently showing in the US on the back of a festival run and will open here on March 15. Its Australian filmmakers, Michael McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere, explore the country’s deep divide over its national icon, examining population and spread, environmental concerns and livestock impacts, as well as commercial harvesting.
Reportedly, the film’s second half features footage of mass kangaroo shootings and joeys being beaten to death to save bullets.
- Hundreds of roos on move captured in mesmerising video
- Farmers see appalling scenes as roo population hits drought wall
The kangaroo meat crusade of NSW Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson also features. Mr Pearson attended the film’s New York premiere in January.
Early American reviews foreshadow a provocative and brutal documentary that - while touching on the population concerns of farmers - can be fairly categorised as an eco-activist project. Mr McIntyre says he didn’t start the film with that as a goal. Outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Variety have praised the work.
The Hollywood Reporter, however, said Kangaroo was eye-opening “but frustratingly one-sided”.
“Here, we're on similar ground with anti-meat films that use shocking images of factory farms to win people to their cause,” wrote critic John DeFore.
“That's certainly fair in itself, but such appeals sit uncomfortably with the doc's purely rational arguments, inspiring us to wonder how much of the other side's case is being unfairly ignored”.
Meanwhile Angus Whyte said kangaroos were so abundant on his 31,000 hectare property they had cost him between $200,000 and $300,000 in pasture over the past year.
“The fact is kangaroos are out of balance and it is at the cost of the environment and other species, as well as the profitability of landholders and regional communities. You could look at footage of a cull and be mortified by some of that vision, as I would be.”
“So let’s say we do away with a cull. Along comes a drought or disease and farmer has to view these animals dying en masse in their paddocks anyway.
“But it’s not in Pitt Street so it doesn’t happen. Believe me, it is one of the most appalling things you can see.”