D. A. Pennebaker — the filmmaker behind the famed 1967 Bob Dylan documentary, Don't Look Back — and his longtime partner Chris Hegedus have started a Kickstarter to fund their latest project, Unlocking the Cage, which chronicles the work of animal rights lawyer Steve Wise. As Pennebaker explains, Wise and his organization, the Nonhuman Rights Project, have been working to grant animals personhood, believing they will only get the protection they deserve if we no longer see them as things.
Pennebaker and Hegedus have raised over $55,000 for their film, and have less than a week to reach their pledge goal of $75,000. The pair are, of course, offering a number of unique rewards for backers, including T-shirts from Don't Look Back or the David Bowie doc Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars for those who pledge $40 or more; original theatrical posters from Pennebaker's Depeche Mode tour documentary 101, Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back and The War Room (which chronicles the team behind Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign) for $100 or more; and one-of-a-kind original 35mm film strips from a number of Pennebaker's rock docs, complete with a card signed by the director, for pledges of $400 or more.
Unlocking the Cage has already received support from Alec Baldwin, who voiced his support in a new video, as well as rockers the National, who promoted the film on their Facebook and have contributed a bundle of five signed vinyl LPs for those who pledge $250 or more (Pennebaker and Hegedus directed the band's 2010 live webcast from the Brooklyn Academy of Music)
You can donate to Unlocking the Cage and get a full rundown of Wise's efforts over on the documentary's Kickstarter. Pennebaker and Hegedus hope to use to the money to follow Wise as his groundbreaking lawsuit demanding animal personhood rights for four chimpanzees moves to the Appellate Courts, film the scientist whose testimony is at the heart of Wise's argument and track the chimpanzees to a possible sanctuary.
"We believe there's a possibility of a legal revolution here," Hegedus says. "Win or lose, Steve's lawsuit is pushing the conversation about how we view our relationship to animals and how to protect them."