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Becoming Animal

A journey to Grand Teton NP with geophilosopher David Abram to explore how the written word and technology have affected how we see the more-than-human world.

A printer-friendly version of this page 79 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Emma Davie, Peter Mettler
Produced by Cornelia Seitler, Rebecca Day, Brigitte Hofer,
Sonja Henrici
Words and Presence: David Abram
Cinematography: Peter Mettler
Editing: Peter Mettler, Emma Davie
Music: AtomTM, Thomas Tallis, Gregorio Allegri, Frank Bretschneider a.o.
Sound Design: Jacques Kieffer, Peter Mettler
A maximage and SDI Productions Film in association with Creative Scotland, in co-production with Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF

"I urge everyone to see this film, particularly young people. Their view of nature will never be the same." Richard Louv, Author, Last Child in the Woods
[Note: Community screenings of BECOMING ANIMAL can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

An inspired collaboration between filmmakers Emma Davie (The Oil Machine) and Peter Mettler (The End of Time) and the influential writer and geophilosopher David Abram ("The Spell of the Sensuous"), BECOMING ANIMAL is an urgent and immersive audiovisual quest, forging a path into the places where humans and other animals meet, where we pry open our senses to witness the so-called natural world—which in turn witnesses us, prompting us to reflect on the very essence of what it means to inhabit our animal bodies.

Shot in and around Grand Teton National Park, with its dizzying diversity of wildlife, trails of curious humans in RVs and billion-year-old geology, the film is a geyser of provocative ideas and heightened sensations related to the sublime circuitry that connects us to our ever-shifting surroundings. Driven by wonder, curiosity and a desire for balance between ecological and technological imperatives, BECOMING ANIMAL is an invitation to explore our relationship with this "more than human" world and recognize it for what it is: an exquisitely intricate system in which everything is alive and expressive, humans, animals and landscapes are inextricably interdependent, and there is no such thing as empty space.

Grade Level: 10 -12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2024     Copyright Date: 2018
DVD ISBN: 1-961192-15-2

"Truly amazing. The separation between people and the rest of creation is one of the saddest facts of our day, but as Becoming Animal makes clear, it is not an unbridgeable gulf, not where there is sympathy, good humor, and a willingness to try. David Abram is one of the most remarkable of all Americans."
Bill McKibben, Environmentalist, Author, Educator, Journalist, Founder of Third Act

"Becoming Animal will get you out to 'rewild your heart' and (re)connect with nature by opening your senses to what surrounds you and to the magnificent terrain in which you're immersed. My humble suggestion, and it's a simple ask, is to carefully watch and feel this film, share it with friends, and get outdoors as much as possible. Not only will this improve your own well-being but it also will help to protect our magnificent world from further and irreversible destruction. Because we are animals, becoming animal simply means we need to do what should come naturally and enjoy the feelings that arise and absorb us. If we remain alienated from nature, there will be a high price to pay for future generations."
Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Author, Rewilding Our Hearts and The Emotional Lives of Animals

"Becoming Animal is like no outdoor documentary you've ever seen. Combining David Abram's eloquence and the stunning cinematography of Emma Davie and Peter Mettler, the film places the viewer under what David would call 'the spell of the sensuous.' I urge everyone to see this film, particularly young people. Their view of nature will never be the same."
Richard Louv, Author, Last Child in the Woods and Our Wild Calling: How Connecting With Animals Can Transform Our Lives - and Save Theirs

"An unusual, thought-provoking film essay which upends many tropes of wildlife photography to create a rich landscape of ideas and images...Its message and approach are so wonderfully combined, so vital and sensitive, that the overall effect is quite magnificent."
Tom Duggins, CineVue

"Becoming Animal breathes light and life into David Abram's modern classic. Audiences will thrill at the vibrancy of the cinematography and find comfort, challenge, peace, and wonder as the filmmakers invite us along for a journey into the minded world with Abram as our guide. Blurring the lines between the familiar and the mysterious, the exalted and the mundane, the technological and the natural, Becoming Animal arrives at just the right moment for these paradoxical times when humanity seems ever more out of control and yet unable to trust what we know to be true: We belong to this planet."
Becca Franks, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, New York University

"As Native people know, a landscape is not just a repository of animals, trees, and mountains. It is a source of wisdom on how to live well. Becoming Animal serves as a persuasive meditation on how to unlock that wisdom for those ensnared in the modern world."
Christopher Preston, Professor of Philosophy, University of Montana, Author, Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries that Change How We Think About Animals

"You can taste the wildness of the living Earth in this marvelous film. This is at once a meditative invitation to deeper knowing and belonging, and an astute reflection on what it means to write, film, and record."
David George Haskell, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Biology, University of the South, Sewanee, Author, Sounds Wild and Broken and The Songs of Trees

"Slowing down time through beautifully filmed encounters with wildlife in Grand Teton National Park that engage the viewer's patient attention, Becoming Animal compels us to notice, to sense, to relate, and respond to the world around us. The filmmakers have produced a sensory experience that serves as a complement and guide to David Abram's philosophical approach to the more-than-human. This film is an excellent addition to a class on multispecies or sensory ethnography, environmental anthropology, ethics, or philosophy."
Emily M. Wanderer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Author, The Life of a Pest

"We are living through climate change, mass extinction, and the gross mistreatment of farmed animals on a mass scale; it is not hyperbole to suggest that we are on a path of collective suicide. Becoming Animal reminds us that part of the solution is connecting to the more-than-human-world and remembering that humans, are, themselves animals. It is a vitally important argument and one I hope as many people as possible will take seriously."
Vasile Stanescu, Associate Professor and Chair, Communication Studies and Theatre, Mercer University, Co-Founder, The North American Association for Critical Animal Studies

"Becoming Animal brings viewers and listeners on a sensory journey, challenging us to entangle with the nonhuman world from viewpoints that only the camera can offer. It is not an easy documentary - with long shots and fluctuations of sound and deliberate breaks in the photographer's gaze - which is as it should be, since learning to exercise our animal senses is not an easy activity. The film offers a provocative introduction to Abram's philosophy as it might be learned and enacted in an iconic landscape ripe with tensions of tourism and nonhuman living."
Melanie Armstrong, Director, Ruckelshaus Institute, Associate Professor of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Caption Options:
English subtitles
Closed captions

The Film's Website
3 simple mind-altering exercises
Film's Press Kit with information about David Abram, andfilmmakers statement|
Host a community screening

Awards and Festivals
Nominated for Best Feature, CPH:DOX
Nominated for Fugas Feature Film Competition, Documenta Madrid
Nominated for Grand Prix, Docs Against Gravity
Nominated for Best Feature, Bildrausch Filmfest, Basel
Nominated for Best Feature Documentary, Edinburgh International Film Festival
Masters Section, IDFA, Amsterdam
Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival
RIDM, Montréal
Festival del Popoli
FilmFest Munchen
Imagine Science Festival

Animal Behavior/Communication
Consciousness Studies
Film Studies
Indigenous Peoples
Oral Tradition

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... more Reviews

"Something actually new and full of life came in the form of freewheeling audiovisual essay Becoming Animal...A big-screen viewing recommended."
Josh Slater-Williams, Sight and Sound

"A sensitive cinematic translation of Abram's thoughts on embodied sense perception and, in particular, that our seemingly sterile technologies model and mimic our bodies within nature...Mettler's sensitive cinematography reveals the lens's animal origins and animal seeing...Meditative, even transcendent, propelling the experience into the ecstatic.'"
Jill Glessing, POV Magazine

"An intoxicatingly coherent reflection about the relationship between Human, Animal, Technology and Nature."
Marcel Elsener, Saiten

"Becoming Animal is a nature documentary that transcends its geographical location and challenges us to question and contemplate our own existence alongside the wildlife and nature surrounding us."
Ezelle Alblas, The Upcoming

"A phenomenological travelogue, a precisely composed polyphonic essay on perception, a re-evaluation of animism, and a vital appeal to relinquish our collective anthropocentric viewpoint before it's too late - all with glittering intelligence and beauty."
Imagine Science Film Festival

"An artful and spiritual romp through the Grand Tetons that illustrates the sometimes strange ways that humans and wildlife coexist. It will stimulate discussions about the meaning of nature and wilderness in the Anthropocene as well as our drive to experience them."
Daniel T. Blumstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

"Becoming Animal is a film that makes you see everything with slightly different eyes."

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