×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Kangaroo — A Love-Hate Story’

This probing doc about the slaughter of Australia's most symbolic animal recalls eco-activist films such as "The Cove" and "Blackfish."

Director:
Mick McIntyre, Kate McIntyre Clere
With:
Diane Smith, Greg Keightley, Tim Flannery, Mark Pearson, Terri Irwin, Uncle Max Dulamunmun Harrison.
Release Date:
Jan 19, 2018

1 hour 39 minutes

Official Site: http://kangaroothemovie.com/

The provocative documentary “Kangaroo — A Love-Hate Story” drills deeply into the complex question of why Australia’s beloved and iconic creature is also regarded as a dangerous pest that must be slaughtered and turned into everything from fancy fashion products to pet food and gourmet cuisine. In their examination of the kangaroo from cultural, environmental, economic and political perspectives, co-directors Mick McIntyre (“Aussie Rules the World”) and Kate McIntyre Clere (“Yogawoman”) have gathered high-quality testimony from experts and stakeholders on all sides of the issue. With glorious footage of kangaroos bounding through the Outback juxtaposed with graphic images of night-time “culling” of the marsupials, “Kangaroo” is guaranteed to prompt plenty of discussion when it hops into limited U.S. cinemas Jan. 19. Australian theatrical release is set for March 15.

Though the film does present views from farmers, kangaroo industry representatives and politicians explaining why numbers must be kept in check, there’s no doubt “Kangaroo” will be read by many viewers as eco-activist filmmaking. In the same way documentaries such as “The Cove” and “Blackfish” have altered public perceptions and official policies on marine ecology, this doc has the potential to help bring kangaroo welfare and management into much sharper focus in Australia and internationally.

McIntyre and McIntyre Clere utilize excellent archival footage and call upon interviewees including distinguished mammalogist and environmentalist Prof. Tim Flannery to establish a clear historical picture of the fascinating and vexing subject. The kangaroo, a symbol of Australia that’s emblazoned on Qantas airplanes, attracts millions of tourists and provides the nickname for national sports teams. According to respected aboriginal elder Uncle Max Dulamunmun Harrison, kangaroos are also “the first Australians.”

But since the arrival of European settlers in 1788, the marsupials, which far outnumber the current Australian population of 25 million, have been blamed for destroying the pastures of valuable livestock. The hopping vertebrate is impossible to control and contain without erecting 12-foot fences spanning hundreds of miles, which in turn affects a bigger biodiversity picture. The result is a supremely paradoxical situation whereby the kangaroo is classified as a protected species while also being subjected to the world’s greatest wildlife slaughter via “mitigation” licenses granted to farmers and professional hunters.

The question of how native kangaroos and introduced animals such as sheep and cows can coexist has proved intractable since it was first raised. While no single film could hope to provide definitive answers, “Kangaroo” deserves credit for presenting a  wealth of informed opinions and impressing the need for a change of thinking  if solutions are ever to be found.

What’s beyond doubt here is how the mass killing of kangaroos is carried out. Regulations demand a bullet to the head. Footage shot over many years by activists Diane Smith and Greg Keightly shows otherwise. The sight of hideously wounded animals dying in agony is powerfully intercut with images of shooters pulling joeys (baby kangaroos) from their dead mothers’ pouches and (legally) smashing their heads against the rear ends of pickup trucks. Many viewers are likely to be distressed during these emotionally confrontational and utterly essential segments.

Claims of threats made against Smith and Keightly are neatly threaded into the story of Mark Pearson, the first Australian politician elected from an animal rights party. After receiving scientific data about hygiene standards in the kangaroo meat industry, Pearson takes the findings to Russia. His meetings with local industry bigwigs result in further testing and a ban on kangaroo imports. A tasty element of political intrigue enters the picture during coverage of Australian lobbying to lift a long-standing ban on kangaroo imports in California.

Nicely shot and expertly edited by Wayne Hyett, the doc is set to a splendid score by David Bridie that evokes all the wonder and danger associated with the Australian Outback. All other technical aspects are on the money.

Film Review: ‘Kangaroo — A Love-Hate Story’

Reviewed online, Adelaide, Australia, Jan. 14, 2018. Running time: 99 MIN.

Production: (Documentary — Australia) An Indievillage (in Australia)/Abramorama (in U.S.) release of an Indievillage presentation of a Second Nature Films production. (International sales: Cargo Film & Releasing, New York.) Producers: Mick McIntyre, Kate McIntyre Clere.

Crew: Directors, writers: Mick McIntyre, Kate McIntyre Clere. Camera (color, HD): Mick McIntyre. Editor: Wayne Hyett. Music: David Bridie.

With: Diane Smith, Greg Keightley, Tim Flannery, Mark Pearson, Terri Irwin, Uncle Max Dulamunmun Harrison.Lyn Gynther, Dror Ben-Ami, Chris Brolga Barnes, Ken Henry, Senator Mark Leno, Stephen Tully.

More Film

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Has Lost Over 90% of Its Subscribers in Less Than a Year (Report)

    MoviePass users apparently hit the exits en masse after it scaled back the number of movies users could see each month: The flailing cinema-subscription provider has seen its subscriber rolls plunge from a peak of more than 3 million to just 225,000 in under a year, according to a new report. The numbers were reported [...]

  • Sundance Film 'Midnight Family' Sells Domestic

    Sundance Award Winner 'Midnight Family' Sells Domestic Rights to 1091 (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Midnight Family,” an award winning documentary about the struggles of a family in Mexico City, has sold its North American distribution rights to 1091. The indie studio was previously known as the Orchard, but received a new moniker after it was sold by Sony Music Entertainment to a new investment group in January. 1091 plans [...]

  • Villains - Maika Monroe Bill Skarsgard

    SXSW Comedy Thriller 'Villains' Acquired by Gunpowder & Sky, MoviePass for U.S. Release

    Dark comedy thriller “Villains,” which premiered last month at the SXSW Film Festival, has been acquired for U.S. release by Gunpowder & Sky in association with MoviePass’ film division. G&S and MoviePass Films plans to give “Villains” a theatrical release this summer, after buying the rights from The Realm, Bron Studios genre arm. The film [...]

  • General Delegate of the Cannes Film

    Cannes Reinstates Advance Press Screenings, But Favors TV, Radio Journalists (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following last year’s backlash by film critics over changes to its screenings schedule, the Cannes Film Festival has decided to reinstate morning press screenings for movies having their gala world premieres in the evening. But there’s a catch: Only a few hundred journalists — mainly from TV and radio outlets — will be admitted, and [...]

  • Someone Great

    Film Review: ‘Someone Great’

    There simply aren’t enough modern romantic comedies that cherish the merits of female friendship in the aftermath of a romantic breakup. There are even fewer that feel like a personal, lived-in experience. Female-driven raunchcoms (like “Girls Trip”) have explored this territory to a certain extent, though many stop short of delivering genuine poignancy (like “Rough [...]

  • Actresses take part in the #metoo

    Cannes Grows More Inclusive, Boosts Number of Female Filmmakers

    In 1946, the inaugural year of the Cannes Film Festival, Barbara Virginia’s surrealist film, “Tres dias sem Deus” debuted in competition. Over the subsequent seven decades, as it has grown in stature to become one of the world’s premier film gatherings, Cannes hasn’t matched that early promise in highlighting female artists. Finally, the powers that [...]

  • Rocketman

    Cannes: 2019 Lineup Includes 'Rocketman' and Films by 13 Women

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival has announced its lineup, unveiling an official selection that includes 13 female filmmakers, a number of genre movies, more American titles than last year and an opportunity for Elton John to make a star turn on the Croisette. Twelve of the 47 films announced Thursday are directed by women (one [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content