George Angus Doo
Cynthia Offam (Human)
Derek Columbo (Human)
Winston Blackman (Human)
October 1, 8:00 pm, Park Cinema
October 4, 5:00 pm, Park Cinema
THREE minutes into George Angus Doo’s latest film, Shoot the Messenger, the screen goes dark. In the silence, the viewer is left to ponder what has just occurred: a shot fired into the brightly lit sky, the loud thumping noise that follows, the sound of boots running across grass and fallen leaves in the swamp-like environment.
When light and action return to the screen, we face six Humans at trial, recalling those elements from the witness stand. To his credit, Doo reveals little about the location of the court and the crime; the alleged perpetrators, plaintiff, judge and jury stand as EveryHuman or AnyHuman. But the trial is not an indictment of that species; rather, it is an examination of the complicated relationship between Doo’s own species — the Pigeon — and Humans. In many ways, as Doo said earlier this year, that relationship is “one of mutual respect and dependence.” But this film is less celebratory of that aspect than it is revelatory of the conflict, fed by ignorance, that is an integral part of the interactions between Pigeons and Humans.
The sportsmen at trial know very little, if anything, about the species they shoot at for sport. They have read no history and, therefore, feel no moral obligation to a species that has saved countless Human lives. As a result, they are puzzled by their obligation to appear in court and angered by the charges of wrongdoing.
“What kind of world is this now?” one of the accused asks aloud. It is not a rhetorical question. The world in which he grew up, he tells the court, was one in which shooting and hunting were respected activities.
“Now, what is it that we’re supposed to do?” he asks earnestly.
The film does not answer this question or any others; instead, it presents the accused and the viewer with even more questions as it explores not only the fraught relationship between the two species but that among Humans, themselves.
In this 2013 Winkie Award-winning film, Doo does a remarkable job of preserving the dignity of the characters while indicting and convicting the real perpetrator of the crime: ignorance.