Over the past year, I've been covering the efforts by celebrities to prevent the transfer of 14 chimpanzees from their home at a nonresearch government facility in Alamogordo, N.M., to a controversial laboratory in San Antonio, Texas, for use in invasive experiments.
It doesn't take much convincing from advocacy groups to realize that these animals are subjected to some awful experiments. The photos are enough to inspire empathy. But sometimes, it takes more than just pictures, testimonials and letters to make a point. Sometimes you have to hammer it home through documentary filmmaking.
In the eye-opening vein of such films are "Earthlings" and "Food, Inc.," Decipher Films is working to release "Maximum Tolerated Dose," a feature-length documentary on the subject of animal experimentation, told from the perspective of humans and animals.
From the website:
"The film charts the lives of both humans and non-humans who have experienced animal testing first-hand. With the hauntingly honest testimony of scientists and lab technicians whose ethics demanded they choose a different path, and the simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of animals who have seen both sides of the cage, MTD aims to re-invigorate the debate about animal testing by bringing these rarely-heard perspectives to the fore."
On the film's title, director Karol Orzechowski recently told Our Hen House that it refers to a particularly brutal form of testing.
"The title refers to a type of lab experiment where “research models” (as animals are regularly referred to) are dosed with a particular chemical or pharmaceutical product to determine how much of it they can take before it becomes persistently toxic," he said. "As you can imagine, this kind of test can result in a great deal of suffering for an animal because it’s meant to find a line where toxicity is potentially fatal. The initial tests generally last for six months, and then are often repeated to determine long-term toxicity, usually over a two-year period."
While there's no release date yet announced, the project is moving ahead, with Orzechowski recently announcing that the studio may be partnering with a "great organization." Check out the haunting trailer below.
Editor's note: This article originally mentioned that "Maximum Tolerated Dose" was the first feature-length documentary about animal experimentation, but it has since been corrected. Não Matarás is a film about animal experimentation in Brazil created by Denise Gonçalves.