Programme

COW

Andrea Arnold

United Kingdom , 2022 / 94 min / VO English / Documentary

 A close-up into the daily life of a cow.

Cow is an invitation to see cows differently, to get closer to them, to contemplate their beauty but also the reality of their life without embellishment. This film is the story of a reality, that of a dairy cow, and a criticism of its exploitation and the immense service it provides.

“I always said early on that if the cows are aware of the camera, just let it be honest. We can’t pretend we’re not there and our presence is going to have an impact on the way she behaves. Sometimes, she did get sort of angry with us and head-butt the camera, but I really felt over time that she felt seen. I don’t know if I’m right, but it feels very profound, because the whole point was to see her. Some of the looks she gave us when I was there, I thought, “She’s really looking at me and I’m really looking at her and we see each other.” Obviously, she doesn’t know what this thing is that is filming her, but she could certainly feel that we are focusing on her. I think she felt the gaze. When we were editing, I kept feeling like, “I see you Lu, I see you.” Director’s statement, Andrea Arnold, The New York Times.

“Cow does a fine job of generating empathy from one scene to the next, and using that power to craft a hypnotic spell rife with significance. After all, what is life but a series of milking sessions followed by the dark void that awaits us all? Cow treats that question as a mission statement, stuns us into contemplation, and cuts to black.” Eric Kohn, Indie Wire, 08/07/2021

“The director details the life of a dairy cow with unflinching and empathetic precision” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 08/07/2021

“Otherwise powerfully confrontational and in-your-face, “Cow” does hold back on didactically telling viewers exactly what to do with these violent, upsetting sights and sounds. Still, the final, yearning needle drop of Garbage’s mournful “Milk” (“I am milk … I am waiting for you”) comes awfully close. Andrea Arnold’s powerful documentary brims with the milk of human unkindness” Guy Lodge, Variety, 13/07/2021

“While one suspects where Cow will ultimately go — the ending is actually subtly referenced earlier — the finale seems in keeping with Arnold’s career-long interest in how people (and now cows) make peace with unfulfilling lives. There remains something unknowable about Luma, but while that proves a limitation, Cow also turns it into a strength. We wonder what she’s thinking, and then we put ourselves in her place — and realise it’s not a great place to be.”  Tim Grierson, Screendaily, 09/07/2021

“Arnold is careful not to demonize the farmworkers: we hear them speak affectionately to the cows and try to soothe them as they steer them here and there. These are people doing a job, cheerfully and matter of factly. But this film is not about them. It’s about encouraging empathy with an animal that can’t speak for itself” Anna Smith, Deadline, 08/07/2021

“At one point more than halfway through the film, Arnold follows Luma and her troop as they’re finally released into the open so that they can graze in the farm’s lush surrounding fields. We’ve been stuck inside with them for so long that the freedom they suddenly experience becomes ours as well: We’re thrilled to breathe in the fresh air and bathe in the sunlight, to wander around and take long naps on the grass, to eat and sleep at will. For a brief, divine moment, Cow shows us what a cow’s life could be, were we not there.”  Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 08/07/2021

“Maybe those black-and-white patterns on a cow’s hide form a sort of Rorschach blot, because as I watched Luma lick her newborn calf or endure the indignity of a milking machine, I began to ponder all sorts of weighty concepts: love, nature, dehumanization and death. Arnold lets her camera linger for a while as you’re staring into Luma’s enormous eyes, you may start to wonder if it’s the cow you’re recognizing or something within yourself.” Kyle Buchanan, The New York Times, 15/07/2021

Awards
  • Official Selection, Cannes Premiere, Cannes Film Festival (2021)
  • Special Mention Best Documentary, Athens International Film Festival, 2021 (Greece)
  • Zelda Penzel Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award, Hamptons International Film Festival, 2021 (United States)
Cast & Credits
Cinematographer 
Magda Kowalczyk
Montage 
Rebecca Lloyd, Jacob Schulsinger, Nicolas Chaudeurge
Sound 
Raphäel Sohier, Carolina Santana, Nicolas Becker, Nikky French
Production 
BBC Films, Doc Society, Halcyon Pictures
Distribution 
Cherry Pickers
Biography

Andrea Arnold studied film at the AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles. After several short films, she received the Oscar for Best Short Film in Live Action for Wasp in 2005. In 2006, her first feature film, Red Road, won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the prize Carl Foreman, awarded to the most promising newcomer, at the BAFTAs. Her second feature film, Fish Tank, starring Michael Fassbender and Katie Jarvis, won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the BAFTA for best British film in 2010. Her third film, Wuthering Heights, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Emily Brontë, made its competitive debut at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Her latest film, American Honey, was filmed in the United States, starring Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in the lead roles, and allowed Andrea Arnold to receive her third Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2016. In 2018 and 2019, Andrea directed the second season of Big Little Lies for HBO.

Filmography
  • 2021 – Cow (Documentaire / Documentary / Dokumentarfilm)
  • 2019 – Big Little Lies (Série TV 7 épisodes / TV Series 7 episodes / Fernsehserie)
  • 2017 – Transparent (Série TV 4 épisodes / TV Series 4 episodes / Fernsehserie)
  • 2017 – I Love Dick (Série TV 4 épisodes / TV Series 4 episodes / Fernsehserie)
  • 2016 – American Honey
  • 2011 – Wuthering Heights
  • 2009 – Fish Tank
  • 2008 – Cinema 16 World Short Films
  • 2006 – Red Road
  • 2003 – Coming Up (Série TV 1 épisodes / TV Series 1 episodes / Fernsehserie)
  • 2003 – Wasp (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 2001 – Dog (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 1998 – Milk (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 1996 – Hotel Babylon (Série TV 1 épisodes / TV Series 1 episodes / Fernsehserie)