Kangaroo (NR)

Documentary 103 min. January 19, 2018
By Serena Donadoni
Activist-documentarians Kate McIntyre Clere and Mick McIntyre take fellow Australians to task for their treatment of kangaroos, the free-roaming indigenous animal that elicits loathing as much as wonderment. The adorable marsupials may serve as the go-to local symbol for Australian companies, but they’re hunted in numbers that would shock outsiders who believe the distinctive creatures are protected, not sourced for meat and leather.

The married filmmakers (Yogawoman, Aussie Rules the World) have constructed a potent work of animal advocacy with Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story, exposing the horrors of government-sanctioned wildlife slaughter and tracing the practice to an ingrained antipathy for kangaroos in Australian society. Activists call for bringing into the light all the gory details of nighttime hunts, including the legally “humane” killing of joeys (baby kangaroos) by blunt-force trauma to the head, a practice akin to the bludgeoning of baby seals.

Amid the harrowing footage and the feeling of hopelessness at the magnitude of the problem, Clere and McIntyre offer interviews with wildlife experts who’ve demonstrated that kangaroos can coexist with cattle and sheep, challenging the image perpetuated by ranchers that they’re “pests” that need to be culled when numbers reach “plague proportions.” The filmmakers also question the food safety of kangaroo meat (field-dressed and transported long distances without refrigeration) and call for reform of the government’s kangaroo-counting procedure, which is based on small population samples and convoluted mathematical extrapolation.

Kangaroo is a sobering depiction of how deep cultural divides affect the future of a species, even one so seemingly ubiquitous and resilient.
Kate McIntyre Clere, Michael McIntyre Kangaroo Dundee, Tim Flannery, Terri Irwin, Peter Singer, Phil Wollen Kate McIntyre Clere, Michael McIntyre Abramorama

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