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Hens, Virus and Us (2019)

73 min   

Audio track : Czech

Director : Petra Nesvačilová

Producer: Filip Remunda

Sound mix: Václav Flegl

The began of filming started in March 2020, at the onset of the coronavirus crisis, when we took refuge in the mountainous countryside with our three children. While surfing the internet, the children found a video from an Asian food market. The camera wanders through the marketplace showing dissected snakes, rats and other wild animals, including bats. They were shocked to see overcrowded cages full of cats and dogs destined for slaughter. In another video, the children learned that the coronavirus had reportedly spread from wild animals to humans in a similar marketplace in Wuhan, China.

Reflections on the relationship between humans and animals lead them to the decision to adopt chickens and keep them as their local neighbours do. Each one of us adopted one chicken from the cage breeding farm. These chickens are pitiful; they look different from the hens in the neighbours' garden, and the children want to find out why. They learn details about the hens' lives in cages. Their questions are full of childish naivete but painfully aware of the urgency.

When human life is at stake, it is presumed that animal rights should fall into the shadows. However, the children base this story on their chickens; they want to know more about why people treat animals so ruthlessly.

Day after day, the children learn to take care of their chickens. They get advice from experienced breeders in the neighbourhood and talk about the relationship between humans and animals. As they reflect on the differences between domestic and industrial livestock, these amateur chicken breeders also discover that there are politicians proposing a ban on caged hen breeding in the Czech Republic.

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