Zoo movie poster
|Directed by||Robinson Devor|
|Produced by||Peggy Case
|Written by||Charles Mudede
|Edited by||Joe Shapiro|
|January 18, 2007
Theatrical: April 25, 2007
Zoo is a 2007 American documentary film based on the life and death of Kenneth Pinyan, an American man who died of peritonitis due to perforation of the colon after engaging in receptive anal sex with a horse. The film's public debut was at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007, where it was one of 16 winners out of 856 candidates. Following Sundance, it was selected as one of the top five American films to be presented at the Directors Fortnight sidebar at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
The idea for the film began when Jenny Edwards, who as Executive Director of a rescue called Hope for Horses, rescued one of the abused stallions from the Zoo brothel that is the focus of the film, called Charles Mudede to thank him for writing a balanced piece about the incident in the Seattle weekly The Stranger. Originally the film was to be a story about the dead Pinyan, his family and the rescue of the horse who killed him. Much of the film was made with the co-operation of Edwards, using her barn and other rescued horses. The veterinarian in the film, Dr. Hannah Mueller (who was known as Hannah Evergreen at the time), provided veterinary care for Edwards' horse rescue.
During production the film changed due to the involvement of the two men who took Pinyan to the hospital, as well as other friends of his. Filming was almost finished when James Tate agreed to be interviewed. Tate ran the farm in Enumclaw, Washington where Pinyan was fatally injured, and took Pinyan to the hospital emergency room. His inclusion and interaction with the director derailed the initial concept of the film and resulted in a major re-editing after the Sundance Festival, at which time much of the original Hannah Evergreen footage was cut. The film became an attempt to explore the life and death of Pinyan, as well as those who came to the farm near Enumclaw for similar reasons, beyond the public understanding of the media. Ultimately it tried to become a positive expose of human-animal sex as a sexual preference. It does contain explicit material of sexual activities, but only in the view of video footage shown on a small television screen.
Awards and recognition
Sundance judges called it a "humanizing look at the life and bizarre death of a seemingly normal Seattle family man who met his untimely end after an unusual encounter with a horse".
The Seattle Times called it "A tough sell that gets respect at Sundance", also noting the local economic effect of landmark films which put a location "on the map". OC Weekly film says, "Zoo achieves the seemingly impossible: It tells the luridly reported tale of a Pacific Northwest engineer for Boeing's fatal sexual encounter with a horse in a way that’s haunting rather than shocking and tender beyond reason." Similar views were expressed by the Los Angeles Times ("remarkably, an elegant, eerily lyrical film has resulted") and the Toronto Star, "gorgeously artful ... one of the most beautifully restrained, formally distinctive and mysterious films of the entire festival".
Other reviewers criticized the film for breaching "the last taboo", or for sinking to new depths: "More compelling than the depths of man's degeneracy is our cultural rationalization of 'art,' whereby pushing the envelope is confused with genius and scuttling the last taboo is seen as an expression of sophistication."
- Macdonald, Moira (July 3, 2006). "Infamous Enumclaw horse sex case to be made into movie". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
- Westneat, Danny (December 3, 2006). "New movie is the spawn of horse sex". The Seattle Times.
- Dentler, Matt (May 4, 2007). "Cannes Countdown: Directors' Fortnight Lineup Impresses". Matt Dentler's Blog. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- Levy, Emanuel. "Zoo: Inside the Controversial Documentary about Bestiality".
- Hernandez, Eugene (May 3, 2007). "Slate Set for 49th Directors' Fortnight; Corbijn's "Control" Opening Section". indieWIRE.
- Westneat, Danny (December 3, 2006). "New movie is the spawn of horse sex". Seattle Times.
- Vicchrilli, Sam (January 26, 2007). ""Zoo" a tough sell that gets respect at Sundance". The Seattle Times.
- Kaufman, Anthony (January 23, 2007). "Year of the Horse: The Stunning World of "Zoo"".
- Nelson, Rob (January 25, 2007). "Sympathy for the Devil". OC Weekly.
- Kenneth Turan (January 22, 2007). "'Zoo' is not just 'eeew'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
- Pevere, Geoff (January 26, 2007). "In praise of real movies". Toronto Star.
- Kathleen Parker (January 26, 2007). "Sundance films wallow in perversity, try to pass it off as 'art'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011-09-04.