’Cow’ views the world through a dairy cow’s eyes
By Diego Flammini
An ag-related movie had its first screening at a prestigious film festival.
Andrea Arnold, known for directing movies including Wuthering Heights and American Honey, and all seven episodes of the second season of the TV show Big Little Lies, had her new movie, Cow, premier at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 94-minute documentary “is an endeavour to consider cows,” the film’s description says on the festival’s website. “To move us closer to them. To see both their beauty and the challenge of their lives. Not in a romantic way but in a real way. It’s a film about one dairy cow’s reality and acknowledging her great service to us.”
The star of the movie is a cow named Luma.
Arnold and Kat Mansoor, a producer on the film, spent time traveling around Britain visiting with farmers and their families and learning about their practices before receiving permission to film Luma on her home farm.
“This is a family farm, they’re lovely people and they work really hard,” Mansoor said during a July 9 press conference about the movie. “We were really clear we wanted to find a good place.”
There are no human cast members in the movie, but farmhands can be seen and heard during the film working with Luma and performing other duties on the farm.
During their search, Arnold wanted to find a cow that stood out from the rest of the herd.
“We’re all used to seeing herds of cows and you see them as herds you don’t see individuals and I knew I wanted to see an individual,” she said during the press conference. “I was looking for a cow that had some character. We were told (Luma) was quite feisty and also she has the most beautiful head.”
The movie opens with Luma birthing a calf, licking it clean and then being separated from her newborn.
Viewers will also see Luma have her hooves trimmed, graze under a starry sky and visit with a bull.
“I didn’t want to pretend we were not there,” Arnold said. “When she looks at us, I feel it’s very powerful.”
Arnold didn’t want to tell viewers what to think during the movie, but rather wanted to present Luma’s life as it is and let people come up with their own takeaways.
“I deliberately made it in a way that would give room for people to have all kinds of responses,” she said. “It’s fascinating to hear people’s reaction to it and their own different experiences.”