Vegan Life spoke to Allison Argo about her latest production, The Last Pig. The documentary follows a pig farmer, and the last pig that he will send to slaughter.
What inspired you to create The Last Pig?
I’ve long been concerned about animals caught in the horrors of the farming industry, but I was at a loss for how to share their story(s) through film. I wanted to try to reach viewers who aren’t willing to watch overtly vegan or graphic videos. Many people simply won’t watch a film with brutal undercover video—and while these images are tremendously important, I felt it was important to find a different way to expose the issues. When I read a few of the essays that Bob Comis, a pig farmer, had published on the Huffington Post, I knew his story was the perfect vehicle to reach this other audience – and to also create a poetic and compelling film.
Was the aim of telling this story to completely change people’s outlook on the pig and meat industry, or to educate people by telling a story and let people form their own opinions?
The aim of the film is both. I hope that Last Pig will help people connect the dots between what’s on their plates and the living being that once was. Since the protagonist is a “humane” pig farmer who, during the course of the film, decides that there is no such thing as “happy meat,” the film carries the debate beyond factory farms. The farmer believes that taking life from another being, whether that being spent its short life on a factory farm or on a farm like Bob’s, is morally unconscionable.
My greatest wish is that those who watch this film will be inspired to ask themselves the same difficult questions the farmer asks himself in the film: who am I at my core? What do I really believe? Is my life – and the way that I live it – truly aligned with my beliefs and my moral convictions? Can I be a better, more sensitive and compassionate person?
This film has made me more mindful, caring and compassionate in my everyday life. Towards animals, towards people, towards myself…
Do you believe this film has the potential to disrupt the farming industry?
I believe that this film will add more people and passion to a movement that has already begun to disrupt the farming industry. Every blog, every FB post, every film, every conversation with a neighbour helps. I believe it’s inevitable that farming animals – particularly on factory farms – is going to be a horror relegated to history books. I’m hopeful that this will happen in our lifetimes. The momentum is dizzying and it’s picking up speed. The Last Pig is part of this incredible shift.
What was the most shocking thing that you learnt during the production of The Last Pig?
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact documenting this story would have on me. I knew that we’d have to film in the slaughterhouse since it was an integral part of Bob’s story, but I didn’t realize it would be so emotionally brutal. I will never be the same, having known the pigs whose lives were taken from them that day. I didn’t know those particular pigs as well as I knew others, but I knew them well enough to feel the tragedy of cutting a living being’s life short. Pigs are so full of joy – they love every smell and taste and moment that life has to offer. Taking that from them (when they’re still babies, by the way) felt like a crime. And I couldn’t help but feel that, somehow, I was a part of that crime. I feel a collective shame for the way we humans treat other animals. I had long been a vegetarian, but I quickly became vegan while making the film.
How can people get involved and host their own screenings of The Last Pig?
We’re extremely fortunate that VegFund has teamed up with The Last Pig to underwrite the licensing fee (and in some cases cover other expenses) for screenings. They’ve been incredibly supportive of the film and those who would like to host screenings. Their grant application only takes a half hour to fill out. You can also find an easy-to-follow guide on our website. We welcome you to organize a screening in your community and will provide you with artwork and photos for promotion. For people in non-English speaking countries, the story is universal and volunteer translators have translated the film into 12 languages – with more in the works!
Are you working on more films that address similar problems to The Last Pig?
Creating and running the outreach campaign for The Last Pig is proving to be a gargantuan endeavour! I’m just beginning to contemplate my next film, but honestly, my mind and heart are still with the pigs. I’ve made films that advocate for non-humans for nearly thirty years, and almost always, it’s the stories that have found me. I have a feeling the next film is waiting in the wings, and when the moment is right, it will make its presence known! That said, ideas are always welcome.
You can purchase tickets to the London screening at Hackney PIcturehouse here.