"I might be thrown back to jail, I might get killed, but it is a price I am willing to pay as a fighter for the welfare of animals," declared an activist of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), interviewed on "Behind the Mask," a documentary by director Shannon Keith.
This highly controversial documentary depicts the struggle of pro-animal activists in the USA and Europe, who are willing to risk their lives trying to free animals from research labs, industrialized farms, or anywhere there is fear animals are abused for a profit.
The ALF, which the FBI had tagged as one of the most dangerous organizations threatening the US home security, takes direct action against animal abuse. They damage and destroy property, of course, but will never hurt humans. The ALF activists intend to rescue as many animals as possible and stop their abuse and torment by pressuring the abusing companies. Only by causing physical damage will the systematic abuse of animals stop, they claim.
"The film is a rare and fascinating document that shows the concerns of ordinary people who feel that the legitimate rights of the animals are violated. This makes them take the law into their hands and take steps that include damaging property," said Daniel Erlich, producer of the "Animal Log" TV show, dedicated to the rights of animals in Israel and worldwide.
He is one of the people responsible for the film's screening in Israel. He decided to contact the producers after he heard of the reactions the film received abroad.
Erlich said that so far, very few films depicting the situation of animals in labs and industrialized farms have been produced. "Most of the films that did try to show the abuse, tended to shock the viewers with harsh images," he explained. "In 'Behind the Mask,' the director tried to create a communicative film for all audiences. It includes interviews, underground footage, and rare pictures that have never been shown before of activists entering those sites and liberating the animals."
The fact that the activists are considered terrorists in America, Erlich added, made its screening banned in several countries. "The Patriot Act, passed last year in the USA, was followed by massive waves of activists' detentions," he said.
"The law states that persons who disturb business activities are terrorists. This way, a demonstration staged outside a business they suspect has been abusing animals is an illegal act. It is a short distance from this to arresting activists. Abroad, they tried to present the activists as a group of marginal people who should be condemned," Erlich expressed his resentment. "This is why it was banned in many countries, despite the fact that it won many awards."
In Israel, after Yes, the cable company, decided against airing it, it was screened in front of packed theaters in the Cinematheques of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Rosh Pina. Erlich believes that this will kick the butts of animal lovers and activists in Israel and encourage them to take action too.
"Taking any kind of action - from writing letters to the authorities to staging demonstrations - could help the situation, particularly at a time when the media and commercials are trying to dictate the moods," he concluded. "This film does not show chicken happily jumping into ovens, but offers a different view of people who decided to fight against the horrors, even if they might pay with their own freedom."
Click here for the film site.