Joaquin Phoenix is serving as an executive producer on Gunda, a new documentary focusing on pig sentience.
Created by award-winning Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky, the film examines the daily life of a pig and her three farm animal companions: two cows and a one-legged chicken.
Speaking to Screen Daily, Phoenix said he was “deeply moved by the film” and described it as a “visceral meditation on existence” that he hopes will change the way people perceive animal intelligence.
“Gunda is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view,” the actor explained.
“Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives.”
Kossakocsky’s previous work includes the 2018 documentary Aquarela, which looked at bodies of water around the world, from frozen lakes to waterfalls. Phoenix went on to call his new documentary Gunda “a film of profound importance and artistry.”
Earlier this month, Phoenix helped rescue a mother cow and her calf from a Los Angeles slaughterhouse, two days after delivering a powerful speech at the Oscars which warned against “plundering” the planet’s natural resources.
Phoenix called for “the best of humanity” during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, which he won for his performance in the titular role in Joker, and also spoke about the plight of cows and their offspring.
Later on in the short film capturing the rescue, which you can watch above, Phoenix is seen helping liberate the cow and her calf (who the actor later named Liberty and Indigo) from the facility, where they were then transported to a Farm Sanctuary-used facility.