Cow - The film

Henarar

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Somerset
Picked up on a review of this “documentary” film yesterday on 5 live and think it might be good for TFFers to be aware of it. It’s been nominated for Cannes apparently so could get quite a bit of press. Filmed on a large dairy farm somewhere in the south of England it follows a cow for around 4 years. There’s no actual commentary by the sound of it so it’s up to the viewers to draw their own conclusions. Inevitably it will be down to the film makers to portray what they want the film to say but it was described as depressing on the radio. Critics comments such as “what the cow might be thinking“ won’t help its image even though they say it doesn’t anthropomorphise the animal.
Dairy farmers here who engage with the public might just want to be aware of questions it’s going to raise if it becomes popular. I hear more negative comments about dairy farming from non farmers than any other sector.
I’ve pasted a trailer for it below.
Sun never shines on that farm
 
Location
southwest
This reply is one problem.
It reads like ‘it’s ok because other things are worse’.

Rick Stein has done a series on the BBC about Cornwall

In one of them, he visits a farm near Looe that makes Gouda cheese (the Chees maker's Gran was Dutch)

When RS said "these cows are housed all year round" I though we were on the verge of a rant but he actually went on "they're spoilt and pampered. All their food is bought to them, they don't have to go out in the rain to walk to their grass, it's delivered to them in their nice house where every cow has it's own bed with a mattress to sleep on"


While some might think housing cows is unnatural, he, stood beside them in their shed, clearly had a different point of view.
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
I don't believe the way we to defend ourselves is by ranting and raving and attacking what is already out there. We should be producing even better films showing the facts. More interviews like I am seeing on some country programs with obviously caring families who keep cows for dairying, showing, but most of all because they like them.

Show the public more about bovine TB. Show them the realities. This was done during F&M and the public were not so wet that it was kept from seeing them. The British public have more sense than we give them credit for and given the choice, they will pick the truth.
 

Campani

Member
I watched the trailer and genuinely thought it looked ok, But I understand whats was going on. People with preconceptions will fill in the gaps using the half-knowledge. This is why a film without commentary is so dangerous. somebody should do a version with a farmer explaining what is happening in each scene.

trailer here:
 

slackjawedyokel

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Northumberland
which farmer thought this would be a good idea to get involved with
I don't believe the way we to defend ourselves is by ranting and raving and attacking what is already out there. We should be producing even better films showing the facts. More interviews like I am seeing on some country programs with obviously caring families who keep cows for dairying, showing, but most of all because they like them.

Show the public more about bovine TB. Show them the realities. This was done during F&M and the public were not so wet that it was kept from seeing them. The British public have more sense than we give them credit for and given the choice, they will pick the truth.
I know what you mean, but I think it would be very hard to make a film showing the realities of livestock farming. Firstly, even a simple film usually involves several different companies to finance, direct and produce, advertise and distribute the film. I think it would be difficult to get the money together and get everyone necessary on-board to make such a film. It would be very interesting to know what the ‘pitch’ for this Cow film was, as it appears to portray aspects of the animals life which are, or which will be, interpreted negatively by the mainly urban audience. An arty film such as this, that raises questions about our relationship with and use of animals would be much easier to get off the ground as a project than a film with a more purely educational bent.

The second difficulty is that ‘our side’ has a much more difficult job in making its point. The power of a film like Cow is that it uses emotion to lead the (urban) viewer to a particular viewpoint by selection and omission. You could make an educational film about the same farm (if you could fund it) but it would probably be boring and no-one would go and see it. It’s easy to knock farming- a lot of powerful arguments against livestock are presented as eyecatching soundbites (most soya is fed to animals, almond milk uses much less water than dairy milk etc) that are fairly easy to refute but usually in a fairly boring and statistical way that no-one will remember.
It’s an unfortunate fact that objective films do not get made about farming. There always has to be an angle and whatever angle is chosen will create bias. Take two recent programs that I think best capture some of the realities and frustrations of farming- BBCs This Farming Life and Amazon’s Clarkson’s Farm. To me they are still biased (although less so than most) but neither of them present everyday farming as I understand it - they’ve got to have an angle that creates jeopardy and interests the viewer.

Thirdly, in general farmers are ****poor at communicating with the general public. You’d hope that by paying subs and levys we’d have professional communicators acting on our behalf, but it seems that they make even more of a balls-up than we do, just more expensively☹️
 

Doc

Member
somebody should do a version with a farmer explaining what is happening in each scene.
This is a good idea. Perhaps with extra bits involving more fields and sunshine too. A credible, smart narrator.
I really believe that the public perception is that cows outside in spring and summer is better, wether we can prove all their needs are catered for inside or not. Some dairies market this.
 

slackjawedyokel

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Northumberland
This is a good idea. Perhaps with extra bits involving more fields and sunshine too. A credible, smart narrator.
I really believe that the public perception is that cows outside in spring and summer is better, wether we can prove all their needs are catered for inside or not. Some dairies market this.
Agree, but that’s not the narrative the filmmaker was aiming for.
 

jpd

Member
Location
rep of irl
If I get the chance to come back, I think I'd rather be a Dairy cow than a child born in Syria or the Yemen who probably has a lot shorter like expectancy. Or a British child destined to die of parental neglect or abuse.
by any chance is there a tb outbreak?
has to be a cull
and poor old daisy is one of the unfortunates,
while shes lowing,
this tb test is not very accurate
i probably dont have it
do i have to die?
 

slackjawedyokel

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Northumberland
You could make a similar film called Dog. Just imagine- the establishing scene a bunch of warm milky puppies all happy curled up with their mum or frolicking about with their siblings. Then inevitably one sad day a pup is wrenched away from its mum and siblings (closeups of their big sad eyes, closeup of folding money changing hands) and is taken off to a completely confusing place that even smells all wrong.
The next half hour act covers the next few days and particularly the nights, as our young hero cries and whimpers for his lost family and is forced to conform to the life of his new ‘family’.
In the following half hour act there are moments of joy (frolicking in the park, the remains of Sunday lunch), but the focus is on fear and boredom. Our hero waits and waits and waits (big eyes, sad face) for its owner to come home from work. He lies, terrified on the floor of the vet’s waiting room because he knows ‘something nasty’ is about to happen to him.
The last act is the real tearjerker. The ‘family’ has bought insurance, so when our hero starts to feel poorly he’s subjected to many, varying, bewildering and painful sessions at the vets, before his pain is finally at an end.

Of course, the impact of such a film would be lessened in anyone that had actually had a pet dog in their life, but I bet it would convert a few impressionable teenagers into thinking dog ownership was a relentlessly cruel pastime.
 
Last edited:

Lofty1984

Member
Location
Cardiff
You could make a similar film called Dog. Just imagine- the establishing scene a bunch of warm milky puppies all happy curled up with their mum or frolicking about with their siblings. Then inevitably one sad day a pup is wrenched away from its mum and siblings (closeups of their big sad eyes) and is taken off to a completely confusing place that even smells all wrong.
The next half hour act covers the next few days and particularly the nights, as our young hero cries and whimpers for his lost family and is forced to conform to the life of his new ‘family’.
In the following half hour act there are moments of joy (frolicking in the park, the remains of Sunday lunch), but the focus is on fear and boredom. Our hero waits and waits and waits (big eyes, sad face) for its owner to come home from work. He lies, terrified on the floor of the vet’s waiting room because he knows ‘something nasty’ is about to happen to him.
The last act is the real tearjerker. The ‘family’ has bought insurance, so when our hero starts to feel poorly he’s subjected to many, varying, bewildering and painful sessions at the vets, before his pain is finally at an end.

Of course, the impact of such a film would be lessened in anyone that had actually had a pet dog in their life, but I bet it would convert a few impressionable teenagers into thinking dog ownership was a relentlessly cruel pastime.
Yeah the cruelty angle gets forgotten about when it comes to pets you don’t see calls to ban keeping dogs as pets for example when cruelty cases come to light
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
It’s a movie already. From the look of the poster, I’m not sure if I dare see what the content is like…🤔

1642272187649.jpeg
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
I know what you mean, but I think it would be very hard to make a film showing the realities of livestock farming. Firstly, even a simple film usually involves several different companies to finance, direct and produce, advertise and distribute the film. I think it would be difficult to get the money together and get everyone necessary on-board to make such a film. It would be very interesting to know what the ‘pitch’ for this Cow film was, as it appears to portray aspects of the animals life which are, or which will be, interpreted negatively by the mainly urban audience. An arty film such as this, that raises questions about our relationship with and use of animals would be much easier to get off the ground as a project than a film with a more purely educational bent.

The second difficulty is that ‘our side’ has a much more difficult job in making its point. The power of a film like Cow is that it uses emotion to lead the (urban) viewer to a particular viewpoint by selection and omission. You could make an educational film about the same farm (if you could fund it) but it would probably be boring and no-one would go and see it. It’s easy to knock farming- a lot of powerful arguments against livestock are presented as eyecatching soundbites (most soya is fed to animals, almond milk uses much less water than dairy milk etc) that are fairly easy to refute but usually in a fairly boring and statistical way that no-one will remember.
It’s an unfortunate fact that objective films do not get made about farming. There always has to be an angle and whatever angle is chosen will create bias. Take two recent programs that I think best capture some of the realities and frustrations of farming- BBCs This Farming Life and Amazon’s Clarkson’s Farm. To me they are still biased (although less so than most) but neither of them present everyday farming as I understand it - they’ve got to have an angle that creates jeopardy and interests the viewer.

Thirdly, in general farmers are ****poor at communicating with the general public. You’d hope that by paying subs and levys we’d have professional communicators acting on our behalf, but it seems that they make even more of a balls-up than we do, just more expensively☹️

So you've never heard of 'The Blair Witch Project'? Started by three film students with an initial budget around $35,000 - $60,000 with a final budget, $250,000 -- $750,000. It grossed $250 million. The_Blair_Witch_Project
 

Muddyroads

Member
Location
Devon
From Beatrix Potter to Disney, animals are portrayed has being virtually human. I suspect that many people will believe that if an animal is sentient it means it is capable of thought, which will be an issue when the term is used more frequently this year.
 

Doc

Member
Agree, but that’s not the narrative the filmmaker was aiming for.
It could be overdubbed/ hijacked for not much £’s as a shorter version with context and published on SM. Could be an effective counter to reclaim/divert the narrative.
There are people with these skills. I’m sure it would get taken down for Legal reasons but if it was posted and advertised it could get some traction imo.
 

slackjawedyokel

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Northumberland
So you've never heard of 'The Blair Witch Project'? Started by three film students with an initial budget around $35,000 - $60,000 with a final budget, $250,000 -- $750,000. It grossed $250 million. The_Blair_Witch_Project
Yes I remember it well; I saw it at the cinema back in the day. A rare shoestring budget film that became a runaway success and founded the whole lost-footage genre.
Maybe I’m not imaginative, but I can’t think that a true life or positive spun film about livestock would be much of a success. It’s too ‘dog bites man’ whereas Cow is ‘man bites dog’ (or rather ‘BBC bites farmers’.
 

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