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Unlocking the Cage (2016)

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Between 2013 and 2015, a group of nonprofit attorneys seek nonhuman clients for whom they can advocate in two U.S. territories, in order to establish legal personhood for elephants, cetaceans and nonhuman apes in the U.S.
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Credited cast:
Steven M. Wise ... Himself


Follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans, by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform a chimpanzee from a 'thing' with no rights to a 'person' with legal protections.

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Release Date:

22 June 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

L'avocat des chimpanzés See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,708, 29 May 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Being a huge animal rights supporter myself, and passionate vegan, I absolutely loved this film!
1 June 2017 | by HellmantSee all my reviews

'UNLOCKING THE CAGE': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A documentary about the Nonhuman Rights Project, a nonprofit animal rights organization that is trying to establish legal personhood for certain nonhuman animals (such as apes, elephants and cetaceans). The organization includes a team of animal rights lawyers, legal experts and volunteer law students. They're lead by attorney Steven Wise. The movie follows the ambitious efforts of Wise and his team, between the years of 2013 and 2015. It was directed by veteran documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, who have worked together on multiple other films (including the 1993 Bill Clinton presidential campaign doc 'THE WAR ROOM'). I found the film to be very well made and educational; it's somewhat frustrating as well, but ultimately inspiring.

The movie follows Steven Wise, and his legal team, as they attempt to make history by presenting an unprecedented courtroom battle, to change the rights of a nonhuman animal from a thing to a person with legal rights. They think the best way to do this is to first establish these rights for animals like apes, elephants and cetaceans (and hopefully the rest will follow). So they first seek out ape clients, that are in desperate need of better living conditions. The movie follows their entire two year (historical) legal battle.

Being a huge animal rights supporter myself, and passionate vegan, I absolutely loved this film. I even cried a little (multiple times) at the end. I hadn't even heard of Steven Wise prior to this movie, but now he's definitely a big hero of mine (as well as everyone else involved in the Nonhuman Rights Project). The film itself is well made, paced and informative. If you love a good court room battle movie, and you're an animal lover, you definitely can't go wrong with this film. The end (of course) is a little frustrating, but like I already said, it's ultimately inspiring as well!

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