Andy Spletzer May 4, 2007
The documentary is a lush and gorgeous examination of a community that was broken apart after one of its members died. The community in question was one of “zoophiliacs,” more specifically of men who liked to have sex with horses, and it was the publicity surrounding the death of Boeing worker Kenneth Pinyon, from a perforated colon after having sex with an Arabian stallion named Bullseye, that brought the community to light and led to its end. Before his death, it was not illegal in Washington State to have sex with animals larger than a human being, but afterward everything changed.
Far from a traditional documentary, and even farther from the kind of exploitation that you see on TV newsmagazine shows, this is not a movie about bestiality and the mechanics of having sex with horses. It has been reviewed by some critics who totally get into the aesthetics of the film, but also some other critics who believe the movie hides behind its aesthetics and doesn’t take a strong enough moral view. I can see both points, but because of an interview that I did with Zoo co-writer Charles Mudede before the film came out, I had a different idea of what the movie was “really” about.
Like I said in my first sentence, it is more of a film about community and how this group came together (um, so to speak). The spine of it is first-person interviews with members of the group, and also the “horse rescuer” who was brought in to take care of the horse after the incident. Because of the gorgeous cinematography from Sean Kirby, I would recommend seeing it in the theater if you have a chance.
I know and have worked with co-writer Charles Mudede and writer/director Robinson “Rob” Devor before, but I hadn’t seen them in a while, so I signed up to interview them after the Seattle press screening. We sat down for drinks and appetizers courtesy of their lovely publicist.
They had just gotten back from their New York publicity tour and the opening weekend of their film, where it made $7,800 on one screen at the IFC Center. That’s a good showing, and it just opened in Los Angeles at the Nuart, and will soon expand to Boston, Portland and Seattle.
I was wondering if they were going to strike a print (their first film together, Police Beat, was shot on 35mm cinemascope and edited in high definition, but never made it back to film, unfortunately). Rob told me, “They aren’t going to make a print until they know they can make the costs back.” He and Charles are both hopeful that the movie will draw enough to justify that, but right now it’s only screening in art houses that have been equipped with hi-def projection. If it does well enough, then they may strike a print in order to bring it to smaller markets that don’t have digital projection. We shall see.
I tried to push them to respond to some of the critics who complained about the film, but they knew better than to take my bait, and besides, I already had my own reaction to that question. So we ordered another glass of wine and caught up on old times.
Andy Spletzer has ridden horses before, but not in that way.
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