Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix starred in a new short film about the meat and dairy industry’s impact on the climate.
“Guardians of Life” is set in an emergency room, where a medical team led by Phoenix works to save a wildfire victim. American-Peruvian actor and indigenous rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher’s character revives the patient after the team believes they can’t be saved. The patient’s burned body then becomes a flame-engulfed map of South America, followed by a map of Australia.
According to the press release, the film is a PSA for the plight of the Amazon and its indigenous communities. It also highlights that deforestation and biodiversity loss are occurring across the globe. Wildfires have not only affected the Amazon and Australia, but also California, Siberia, Angola, and the Congo.
‘We Have a Personal Responsibility’
Phoenix, a vegan since age three, said in a statement that he took the role to “raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry’s effect on climate change.”
Animal agriculture has a devastating effect on the planet. It is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
Phoenix added, “The fact is we are clear-cutting and burning rainforests and seeing the negative effects of those actions worldwide. People don’t realize there’s still time, but only if we act now and make sweeping changes to our consumption.”
The beef industry—as well as illegal logging—are to blame for much of the Amazon’s destruction.
Phoenix explained that “we cannot wait for governments to solve” climate change. “We have a personal responsibility to make changes in our own lives and act now,” he said.
The film kicks off Mobilize Earth, a new campaign created by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion and Amazon Watch. The latter works to protect the rainforest in addition to advancing indigenous rights.
Kilcher has a personal connection to the film as well. “As an indigenous actress, I feel a strong responsibility to use my public platform to help amplify the voices who are seldom heard,” she said.
She added that this includes “all the indigenous defenders around the world” who work to protect the planet.
Filmmaker and environmental activist Shaun Monson directed the film. His credentials include the vegan documentaries “Earthlings” (2005) and “Unity” (2015).
Rosario Dawson (“Sin City”), Matthew Modine (“Full Metal Jacket”), Oona Chaplin (James Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar 2”), Adria Arjona Torres (Amazon Studio’s and the BBC’s “Good Omens”), and Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes, each play staff in the emergency room.
To learn more about Mobilize Earth, visit the website.