Suffering for fashion is one thing (think sky-high stilettos, rib-cracking corsets, and sprayed-on jeans), but getting some hapless animal to do it for you is quite another. Skin Trade is a new indie documentary that cuts to the bone of the issue, so to speak, by splicing interviews of prominent animal advocates with graphic—and we do mean graphic—footage of what goes into making a fur coat. Available next month on DVD, Skin Trade takes a no-holds-barred look at the business of killing animals for fashion, from the earliest days of fur trading to current-day claims about fur’s inherent sustainability.
Skin Trade, which premiered at Los Angeles’ Majestic Crest Theater in June, is the latest project by Shannon Keith, an award-winning director, attorney, and the founder of Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME), a nonprofit animal-advocacy group. The film gathers a slew of familiar faces to speak against the fur trade, including designer Todd Oldham; PETA president Ingrid Newkirk; actor-activists Ed Begley Jr., Jorja Fox, and James Cromwell; and Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich.
You won’t find any urban legends or conspiracy theories here; the fur trade is real, atrocious, and outdated.
One word of warning: This film isn’t for the faint of heart. Raw, brutal footage from fur farms in the United States and abroad shows animals being maimed and tortured in traps, as well as subjected to electrocution and fatal beatings. (This writer will never look at her cat in the same way again.)
Also writ large are the fur industry’s often shifty claims, such as “the animals are treated better than humans” and fur is green because pelts are biodegradable. You won’t find any urban legends or conspiracy theories here; the fur trade is real, atrocious, and outdated. If you have the mettle for it, visit the Skin Trade website for screenings in your area or pick up the DVD on September 14.