Chris Hegedus, Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker

Chris Hegedus—co-director of the new documentary, “Unlocking The Cage”—explains the criteria she and her partner of 40 years, D.A. Pennebaker, use when deciding on the films to make, an eclectic body of work that includes the Oscar-nominated “The War Room,” which examined Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, and 2009’s “Kings of Pastry,” providing a front-row seat as 16 pastry chefs create sweet concoctions in competition for a prize in Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Chris+Hegedus+HBO+Documentary+Film+Unlocking+xoyOSwj8JFllHegedus discusses how she and Pennebaker elected to make “Unlocking The Cage,” describing a meeting with Steven Wise—the attorney whose legal quest (along with his colleagues” at the Nonhuman Rights Project) to establish “personhood” for a 960chimpanzee forms the center of the film—and being impressed with him, his track record and his mission, among other factors. She also addresses other aspects of fashioning the film, including—in contrast to, say, an election or a contest–there not being a natural endpoint to shooting “Unlocking The Cage,” as well as how she and Pennebaker view becoming emotionally affected by the subjects of their documentaries, noting some of the more poignant passages involving captive chimps as roadside zoos or other unfortunate locales. Hegedus also touches on her hopes for the impact of “Unlocking The Cage,” which has screened at festivals and in select theaters, and is due to air on 1463105968_13217354_1166185926759595_1124791967078552050_oHBO in the coming months. Because she co-directed “The War Room,” and because this interview was recorded at the midpoint of the Democratic National Convention, I invite Hegedus to share her observations on the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presidential campaigns. (,



ALSO: I spoke briefly with Jamie McManus, a lawyer with the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s office, about the announcement of the newly created unit earmarked to prosecute animal cruelty cases. This new unit involves 13 attorneys across both counties, with McManus have proposed the idea for it to State Attorney Jeff Ashton. (

COMEDY CORNER: Kevin Nealon’s “Chimp Fear” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Sarah Jarosz’ “Lost Dog,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Elton John’s “Grey Seal”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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