Elsie Herring

Elsie Herring

“It’s just an ugly industry.”

In September 2018, the We Animals Media team travelled to North Carolina to document the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and its devastating impacts on the environment, animals, and local residents. During their time in Duplin County, filmmaker Kelly Guerin met Elsie Herring, the great-granddaughter of a freed slave who became an environmental activist after a hog CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) replaced the small family farm next door to her family’s property. The farm, like countless others around it, employed the standard industry practice of spraying manure on to fields as a waste disposal system. The spray drifted onto Elsie’s family home every day and soon, her family began experiencing serious health problems, such as respiratory and skin infections.

“As we sat on her front porch for our interview, the sprinklers kicked on and Elsie had to hold a paper towel over her mouth so she could continue to speak. We spoke at length about her experiences watching the farming in Duplin transform into the massive industry it is today and how it has impacted the lives of everyone around them. She spoke about the emerging understanding of environmental racism, that these colossal and toxic farms are often constructed strategically in poor communities of colour where residents have little political clout to raise in protest. And she emphasized, hauntingly, that the issues we were seeing post-Florence, in reality had little to do with hurricanes; for residents of Duplin county, this was life.”

Filming by Kelly Guerin / Editing by Nardine Groch

Wendy Valentine

Wendy Valentine

“It’s a job for the tough.”

Wendy Valentine has dedicated her life to helping animals in need. In 1995, with just 20 acres of land, she founded Hillside Animal Sanctuary, after witnessing firsthand the plight of the battery hen. Since then, Valentine has campaigned and helped care for thousands of animals, particularly those who suffer in the factory farming industry. Today, Hillside covers 2000 acres of land and is home to over 3000 animals.

BAFTA-winning filmmaker Alex Lockwood (Lockwood Film) created this short character piece for the Unbound Project about Wendy and her life’s work.

What led Lockwood to tell Valentine’s story?

“My short documentary 73 Cows had involved a scene at Hillside Animal Sanctuary. We only shot there for a day, but I’d since wanted to make a follow-up film, orientated around the amazing work that the sanctuary does, and specifically Wendy, the sanctuary’s founder. This summer we went back to Hillside to film this short character piece to explore what drives Wendy in her quest to help so many animals.”

Directed by Alex Lockwood – Lockwood Film

Tracy Hilda Dukim

Tracy Hilda Dukim

“We want to make Sabah a place where every animal is valued and protected.”

Tracy Hilda Dukim co-founded the nonprofit organization Borneo Animal Welfare Society, Sabah (BAWSS) with her friends when witnessing firsthand the desperate need for population control throughout Malaysia. Under Dukim’s leadership, BAWSS advocates for Borneo’s stray cats and dogs through innovative, educational and humane programs.

This is Unbound’s first project in collaboration with world-renowned filmmaker and photojournalist Aaron Gekoski.

What led Gekoski to tell Dukim’s story?

“Having lived in Sabah for three years, I first became aware of BAWSS via their educational programs and mass sterilization drives. Their achievements – as an all female enterprise – are remarkable given they are operating in a predominantly patriarchal society, and a place where attitudes towards strays can be apathetic at best. The women work relentlessly in order to help cats and dogs in Sabah, seeking little recognition for their endeavors. This short film shines a light on their incredible efforts.”

Directed by Aaron Gekoski

Susie Coston

Susie Coston

The Power Of Sanctuary

As the National Shelter Director of Farm Sanctuary, Susie Coston not only saves the lives of the animals in front of her, she inspires compassion for all animals by telling their stories with humour, grace, and love. She has led countless people to connect with farmed animals in ways they never thought possible.

Directed by Kelly Guerin

Kari Bagnall

Kari Bagnall

Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary

 

 

What started 25 years ago with a four-month-old capuchin monkey has since grown into the largest sanctuary for new world monkeys in North America.

Kari Bagnall was an interior decorator living in the suburbs when she stumbled unexpectedly into the world of the primate pet trade. As a devoted mother to her monkey daughters Samantha and Charlotte, Kari did all she could to give them the best possible life – learning as much as she could and bringing the young animals everywhere with her. What followed is a remarkable story of good intentions and what can happen when we have the courage to make things right.

Directed by Kelly Guerin

Gill Dalley

Gill Dalley

Today, the Unbound Project is releasing a new short film profiling the life and work of the incredible Gill Dalley, co-founder of the Soi Dog Foundation.

In 2003, after moving to Thailand to retire, Gill and her husband John were overwhelmed by the number of street dogs they saw living without proper care. To fight this problem, they founded Soi Dog, which now sterilizes tens of thousands of dogs and cats in Asia each year.

Sadly, Gill passed away earlier this year after a short illness. It gives us chills to see and hear how eloquently and consciously she talked of mortality and the urgency of living––all without knowing that she was living her final months. The film is dedicated to her inspiring legacy.