Film Information

Unlocking the Cage

Unlocking the Cage

Oct 27, 2016
7 PM

Directed by Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
Rated Not Rated, 91 min.
Free Screening

Underwritten by FiReFilms

Part of the Reel Community Series

Presented in partnership with FiReFilms and Sage Mountain.

"Unlocking the Cage" follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. After thirty years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections.

"Unlocking the Cage" captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals.

This program has received funding from Utah Humanities (UH). UH empowers Utahns to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities.”

Film will be followed by a panel discussion with Steven Wise (film subject), Dr. Lori Marino and Dr. James Tabery. Sharon Anderson Morris of FiReFilms will moderate.

Panelist Bios:

Lori Marino
Lori Marino is a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence, formerly on the faculty in the Neuroscience and Animal Behavior Program and Center for Ethics at Emory University. She is currently President of The Whale Sanctuary Project (, whose mission is to create the first seaside sanctuaries for orcas and beluga whales in North America. She is also Founder and Executive Director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy (, which focuses on bridging the gap between academic scholarship and on-the-ground animal advocacy efforts. Lori was science director for the Nonhuman Right Project for two years.

Lori is internationally known for her work on the evolution of the brain and intelligence in dolphins and whales and comparisons to primates. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and magazine articles on marine mammal biology and cognition, comparative neuroanatomy, self-awareness in other animals, human-nonhuman animal relationships, the evolution of intelligence, marine mammal captivity issues, such as, dolphin assisted therapy. Lori also works on studies of intelligence in farmed animals with Farm Sanctuary’s The Someone Project. She appears in several films and television programs including the 2013 documentary Blackfish, about killer whale captivity, and Unlocking The Cage.

James Tabery, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Utah
Dr Tabery's research focuses largely on the philosophy of science and applied ethics, as well as the intersection between those domains. On the philosophy of science side, he investigates questions of causation and explanation in biology; while on the applied ethics side, he explores how the answers to those questions have ethical, legal, and social implications.

Steven Wise
Mr. Wise teaches “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at the Vermont, Lewis and Clark, University of Miami, and St. Thomas Law Schools, and has taught “Animal Rights Law” at the Harvard Law School and John Marshall Law School. He is the subject of the documentary “Unlocking the Cage” (2016) and the author of four books:
* Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals (2000),
* Drawing the Line – Science and the Case for Animal Rights (2003),
* Though the Heavens May Fall – The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery (2005), and
* An American Trilogy – Death, Slavery, and Dominion Along the Banks of the Cape Fear River (2009)

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Park City Film Series

The Park City Film Series is a nonprofit organization presenting the best of independent feature, documentary, world and local cinema. Our mission is to create community through film.