Guest OpEd by Susan Wagner, President, Equine Advocates
“Why did the organizers of the Equus Film Festival allow such a huge horse slaughter proponent who chairs and helps fund a pro-horse slaughter organization come on as its main sponsor?”
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
For a horse lover, film buff and native New Yorker like myself, what better experience could there possibly be than to see movies about horses at a film festival in one of the greatest cities in the world?
After all, New York is home to the world-renowned Tribeca Film Festival, as well as many others presented throughout the state, including the Chatham and Woodstock Film Festivals. All are celebrations of the art of film making and premier many future award-winning movies before they are in general release.
Sadly, the Equus Film Festival which runs from November 17th to November 20th in New York City has proven that it is clearly not in the same league with the others I mentioned or with the majority of film festivals that take place throughout the U.S. and Canada every year.
I and many other horse and film lovers will be boycotting this event for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the 2016 Equus Film Festival is being sponsored by the pro-horse slaughter, pro-puppy mill and anti-animal lobbying group, Protect the Harvest.
The chairman and founder of Protect the Harvest is oilman and rancher, Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil. He recently said of his group, “…we’re out here organized…” and “…we need to get horse slaughter back.”
President-Elect Donald Trump has Lucas on his short list for Secretary of the Interior. According to Politico, that prospect is being strongly condemned by environmental activists as well as animal advocates.
It seems Lucas has become involved in film to help promote his pro-horse slaughter/anti-animal agendas, as in his world, it appears that animals are definitely not sentient beings. Politico also reported that Lucas financed and produced a film called, “The Dog Lover,” which the news agency said, “…portrays dog breeders and puppy mills as being unfairly targeted by animal rights groups. The movie was backed by Protect the Harvest.”
Lucas also funded the new Sharon Stone feature film, “Running Wild” which will premier at the festival. The film has been widely criticized by horse advocates as it is being promoted by “horse slaughter pushers” intent on rebuilding equine slaughterhouses all across America. One of them is Dave Duquette, a close colleague of the late Wyoming state representative, “Slaughterhouse Sue” Wallis who dedicated her life to bringing horse slaughter back to the U.S. Duquette and Lucas are allies with the same deadly agenda for horses. Duquette was photographed on the set of “Running Wild,” posing for pictures with its star, Sharon Stone.
If Lucas gets into any position of power, horse slaughter will surely be back in this country with a vengeance. As Interior Secretary, he would oversee the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and America’s remaining wild horse and burro herds. He could condemn the 44,000 captured wild horses being held in long-term holding facilities to death. (These animals should be released back on the range.) Earlier this year, all except one member of the BLM Advisory Board voted to kill the horses but strong public outcry prevented that from happening and forced the agency to change course.
Why did the organizers of the Equus Film Festival allow such a huge horse slaughter proponent who chairs and helps fund a pro-horse slaughter organization come on as its main sponsor? With all the great companies out there that fund film festivals and the arts, how and why was Protect the Harvest given the opportunity to invade an animal-loving city like New York, using this film festival to further its pro-horse slaughter agenda?
What the Equus Film Festival organizers have done is extremely unfair to the legitimate filmmakers who worked long and hard to get their films ready for this event. Instead of this being an upbeat celebration of the Horse and serious discussion of equine issues, it will be marred by a pro-horse slaughter theme.
New York City is no place for this kind of politically-biased “film festival.” I’m staying home and watching “Black Beauty” instead.