Where next with Lion Ark?

Many of our audiences at the Q&A sessions following the film festival screenings of Lion Ark have asked where we are going with the move – when will it be on general release in cinemas and theaters, whether will it be on DVD, VOD, TV. This is the start of Lion Ark’s life.

Our film festival tour to get Lion Ark The Movie sold for general distribution has seen us in eight festivals in six weeks – Raindance London, Mill Valley CA, San Diego, Hawaii, Ft Lauderdale, Virginia, Starz Denver and Sun & Sand Biloxi, Mississippi.

We won and Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at San Diego and an jury panel Award for Best Documentary at Sun & Sand. The movie played to sell-out audiences at Raindance, Mill Valley and Starz Denver, where two extra screenings were added to cope with demand, and these sold out as well.

Our final festival screening of 2013 is Anchorage, Alaska in December and we start next year with more festivals. The audience responses have been visceral; all at the same time intrigued, elated, tears and laughter.

Lion Ark is more action adventure style than traditional documentary. It is up-close-and-personal, in-the-middle-of-the-action. We’ve been calling it an ‘actionmentary’! The audience feels the emotions of the rescuers and the pain and joy of the animals, moment by moment.

We walked the floor at the American Film Festival in Santa Monica last week, getting interest from several industry buyers. We have also been approached at the film festivals.

Our ambition for Lion Ark is that it should be seen by as many people as possible, all over the world – people can enjoy the movie as a piece of entertainment, but will come out of the cinema with an understanding about the suffering of animals in circuses. Although we have the very handsome Hercules as our poster boy and the focus of the story is our lion stars, the movie is about all animals.

We would like to see Lion Ark on general release in cinemas and movie theaters, followed by TV and DVD and all the routes. Distribution is an expensive operation and will require detailed contracts to ensure some of the money earned from it can be fed back into more rescues.

Lion Ark is an independently funded film, we don’t have studio or network money behind it, and we have taken it as far as we can on our own. We realise we are up against huge competition and big industry-funded productions, but we know we have a good commercial product as illustrated the reactions of audiences, critics, and industry buyers has been huge.

See the new ‘Reactions to Lion Ark’ video at: http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/

In short, it is a great story. An Academy member said to me this week “you have a very good movie, has it been nominated?” (for the ®Oscars). In fact our week-long qualifying cinema runs in Los Angeles and New York will mean that Lion Ark can be considered. This will raise the profile of the film.

Getting Lion Ark picked up for wider distribution by a company with the financial muscle and expertise to maximise its potential is our aim. It is an important story for people to see worldwide.

It was through the generosity of the legendary Bob Barker that we were able to undertake the Bolivian rescue. We are doing our best to make the story of that rescue something that will change the world forever, for animals used in entertainment. For production of the movie we had the support of Associate Producer, Jorja Fox, through her company Seafox Productions including help to fund the film, along with our wonderful band of ‘Contributor Producers’, who have shown such faith in the project.

While writing, a quick warning – a few wicked people are trying to pirate Lion Ark (or parts of it, or pictures) for websites aiming get money, which would take the money away from the animals. So far, these appear to be scams to get people’s credit card details – don’t click on these websites or try to download anything!

If you see any illegal sites either showing parts of Lion Ark, or claiming to have possession of the whole movie, do let us know – because they are taking the animals’ money. Contact us at: Films1@ad-international.org

On a happier note, here are the dates of the upcoming screenings and filmmaker Q&A sessions where Tim Phillips and I will attend:

New York: Sunday November 17th, at the QUAD Cinema, Manhattan, 6.30pm and Monday 18 – Q&A session after the 1.15pm and 6.30pm screenings Tickets http://bit.ly/1j9O45C

Los Angeles: Wednesday November 20 and Thursday 21, at the Laemmle Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills – Q&A session after the 2:20pm and 7:20pm screenings. Tickets http://bit.ly/1cUBUjA

Thank you everyone, for your support for Lion Ark.

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Lion Ark storms the festivals, but meanwhile LA let the animals down

The Lion Ark film festival tour continued with three shows in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, which was wonderful. We are on our way to DC now for meetings, then to Charlottesville to play at the Virginia Film Festival, followed by Denver Film Festival – all very exciting.

We have three shows at Denver (four screenings for schools). The Denver schedule also includes two important after party fundraisers for Peru, as their government has asked us to perform the same task as we did for Bolivia.

The Bolivian circus rescue is, of course, the subject of Lion Ark and audiences have been enjoying this close up and personal in-the-thick-of-the-action animal rescue – you can enjoy the adventure, will leave with a real understanding about the use of animals in traveling circuses.
Help us get Lion Ark to general distribution!
Please like Lion Ark on Facebook and help us to get wider distribution for the movie with your votes and your “likes”!
See more at: https://www.facebook.com/LionArkTheMovie

Thoughts on Los Angeles

It remains a huge disappointment that the Los Angeles City Council decided to go for the weakest option for their circus ordinance – a prohibition on the use of the bullhook (ankus) and other implements like pitchforks, when used to control elephants in a “performance related context”.

Worse still, the ban was postponed for three years. This could mean up to five years before anything can be done to end the suffering of wild animals in circuses in LA; three years waiting for the ordinance to come into force and then maybe a year or more before its effectiveness has been assessed.

Whilst phase-outs often occur when animal use (either all, or wild animals) is being eliminated, there seems no logical reason for a delay for prohibiting a control tool for a single species.

Ordinances to ban tools cannot address the issue of the suffering caused by deprived, barren environments, constant travel, small spaces and confinement. Animals being forced to stand in the same place for many hours at a time suffer stiffness and pain in their joints and commonly amongst the elephants, foot problems and arthritic conditions. The restriction of natural behaviors has an effect on both mind and body – the abnormal pacing, rocking, swaying seen in all species of animals used in traveling – lions, tigers, bears, elephants and others (including domestics) is the result of the deprivation and stress they endure. They slowly go out of their minds.

We believe there are weaknesses with banning the use of implements like bullhooks and pitchforks from circuses rather than the use of animals, and these need to be addressed. In over 20 years of investigations we have recorded animals being beaten by all kinds of tools, from shovels and brooms to iron bars, fists, whips and anything else that is to hand, such as a golf club.

There are significant enforcement issues to address with prohibitions on tools: Difficulties with monitoring, especially since most of the abuse filmed by ADI in circuses has been behind the scenes. Circuses may adapt their behavior in public; one has already circumvented such a ban by using bamboo canes to control their elephants in public.

Around the world, there are now hundreds of local bans on the use of animals in circuses – Europe, the UK, South America, the US and Asia. Twenty-five countries have national legislation ending traveling animal circus shows and others, including the UK, have legislation under consideration. In the US, there are over 30 local bans on animal circuses (wild or all animals) in 18 states. These ordinances and national laws point to the most effective way to protect these animals – take them out of the circus shows.

A strategy with inherent difficulties like a ban on tools or other implements commonly used in animal husbandry, rather than on the presence of the animals in such deprived and vulnerable circumstances, can only be regarded as a last resort, and deficiencies would need to be addressed. To ask for the weakest measure first is not, in our view, the best way to protect animals.

We cannot envisage that any of the animal circus bans we have worked on in the US and around the world, would have been achieved if we had asked for a ban on tools/weapons or equipment, rather than removal of the animals from unacceptable conditions.

See our LA City update: http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=3362&ssi=10
And the US circus campaign at:
http://www.ad-international.org/adi_usa/go.php?id=1365&ssi=10

We continue to work hard for local ordinances across the US and perhaps other cities will join with this worldwide movement and take the progressive step to enact effective protection for animals.