The film "Encounters with an Egalitarian" by the French Swiss director Gwennaël Bolomey gives the golden opportunity to see into the mind of Yves Bonnardel - a French activist committed to egalitarianism and animal causes and the author of numerous articles, pamphlets and essays. The two men, longtime friends, met on several occasions, both at Yves's countryside retreat and at activist events. These interviews help to sketch a portrait of a thinker who, in the last twenty years, has had a very strong influence on the French-speaking anti-speciesism movement.
In a reflection on the place given to animals in Western societies and the numerous ways in which they are exploited, Yves Bonnardel questions our relationship to non-human sentient beings, challenges humanism and re-examines the basic notion of equality, underlining the pressing need to apply it to other species.
Divided into chapters (The Notion of Equality, The Idea of Nature, Animal Exploitation, etc..) "Encounters with ..." is thirty minutes long and features English subtitles. The film is now available on DVD, and for public screenings and debates.
Watch the film.
Director Gwennaël Bolomey answered some questions for me a few days ago:
Why did you decide to create your documentary?
I first heard about Yves Bonnardel through the texts he wrote in different publications, such as the "cahiers antispécistes
" leaflets or books. I was very interested in the way the linked the relations between humans and animals - a topic in which I was personally involved. I decided 15 years ago to stop eating animals and further to make the choice to consume as less as possible of animal products. In my opinion, what makes the difference with the texts of Yves and others I read before is that Yves always trys to link exploitation from human to animals, to exploitation with humans. And I really think all sort of domination are effectively based of the same mechanism: to classify things in a hierarchic ways, to separate instead of trying to be in harmony together.
What I like about Yves is that he's not an unversitarian theoretician. He experiences and lives what he believes in. That's reality! And theory coming from reality is always stronger. The idea of this movie was to use my skills of creating films in order to share thoughts of my friend who I like to listen to.
How long did the film take from creation to release?
The process was quite long. Most of the project, I planned to complete it in a few months, but overall it took two years…. I was busy on other project too and also decided to shoot some additional sequences that I realized were missing during the process of editing. Yves has a lot to say and that was not easy to cut and try to stay focus on some specific topic.
Being in Yves's place was also some kind holiday: walking in the wild and powerful mountain surrounding Yves's house, cooking good food, gardening and so on, there is always something to do there.
What other (vegan) people helped you with the book?
Many people helped me with the project. Fanny Vaucher
, my artistic - activist friend who did the illustration for the DVD, the website
and much more. We also raised the money to print the DVD through crowd funding, which was a real success. It is really great when you see that things can happened like this. You bring together the energy (and money) of many people and at the end you have a real power! And it's not only vegans who helped me, even meat eaters who think that this subject is a one that should be discussed in our society.
What do you hope to achieve with the release?
I hope it will help to make people debate about the topic of egalitarism and as a consequence participate at this small level to make the world more peaceful. It is my participation as someone concerned about the question of animal exploitation to help things continue. I really think everyone can do something - by using your time, skills and energy all these things will make things happen!
What has the response been like so far?
This movie is questioning a lot of thoughts that are deeply integrated in our habits. Every time we made a public projection, the debate is very rich
and interesting. The fact that in the movie Yves speaks about egalitarism in between humans (feminism, antiracism etc) helps people to understand the whole idea of egalitarism, including the non-human animals. Sometimes people react quite strongly to the movie, because they feel that some ideas they have built their life on (humanism) are not that strong and can also be questioned. I already know that some people decided to stop or reduce their non-vegan food after watching the movie. That's great!
What are your future plans?
I am right now studying cinema in a film school in Switzerland, in order to learn more. Why not come to them with experience with another movie on this topic of egalitarisme and animal exploitation!
Watch the film: