NJ Film Festival offers these films on demand for 24 hours starting at midnight.
Herd – Michel Negroponte (Livingston Manor, New York). A herd of shaggy Belted Galloway cattle is delivered to a neighboring pasture in the Catskills and instantly inspires a new film. The filmmaker's growing fascination with the complex forces that propel the animals through one season to the next leads him to reflect on the modern idea of animal personhood. The cows graze and chew their cud, new calves are born, the mothers diligently safeguard their offspring while the bull dominates the herd. Like humans, cows have distinct characteristics: some are giddy, some private, others wise and placid. What are the mysterious forces that drive the cattle? Is their curiosity hardwired into their brains? Are cows sentient? Why do humans believe they have dominion over animals? These questions have been asked for centuries: Aristotle believed that animals are purely instinctual whereas Pythagoras believed that reincarnation moved souls from humans to cows. Equal part rumination, observation and meditation, the film reveals the cow's essence and challenges us to think differently about our fellow living animal beings. 2023; 66 min.
A Spot for Frog – Evan Bode (Syracuse, New York). Locked out of the school art room, a creative nonbinary teen named Frog grapples with anxiety as they seek a new place to eat lunch. Imagination blurs with reality in this hybrid work of live action and animation about an artist's search for identity, belonging, and expression on the margins. 2022; 16 min.
Balaena - Alessia Cecchet (Santa Cruz, California). A whale lies stranded on the beach, and a woman seeks closure through a simulacrum while human interlopers observe, collect, dissect and take selfies. 2022; 8 min.