Director Andrea Arnold / 2021 / UK

Viewer advice: Contains depictions of violence towards animals

Festival favourite Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, MIFF 2009; Red Road, MIFF 2006) gets up close and personal with a dairy cow to unveil a surprising and unknown world.

The singular visual eye of the award-winning filmmaker takes a turn for the bovine, here exploring the realities of the titular animals’ daily lives. Cows are beautiful, mostly docile creatures, and the dairy variety – bred to fulfil a very specific purpose – spend most of their time feeding and milking. But a cow’s life has its challenges and problems, too, given as they are to supporting mankind's seemingly insatiable thirst.

Six years in the making, Arnold’s fifth feature draws on her talent for capturing the natural world – seen especially in her visceral adaptation Wuthering Heights (MIFF 2012) – with both beauty and austerity. The Cannes feature Cow is an unromantic, tender portrait of the secret life of an animal often taken for granted and a generous reminder of what they give of themselves to their human ‘masters’.

“A filmmaker infectiously attuned to movement, Arnold finds a horrible, hypnotic rhythm in these gruelingly looped procedures … Powerfully confrontational.” – Variety

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