Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story (REVIEW)

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Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story

* * * 1/2

Documentarians Kate McIntyre Clere and (husband) Mick McIntyre embarked, four years ago, on a documentary project examining the kangaroo as Australian cultural icon. Four years later, the documentary that has emerged is more akin to The Cove and Blackfish than, say, a Ken Burns film about baseball or jazz. What they learned over those four years, and what I learned in the ninety minutes they’ve produced, is eye-opening, revelatory, at times jaw-dropping, and a call to action.

Essentially, the film examines how the roo industry – both for meat and skin – has stealthily and very profitably capitalised on two words – “pest” and “plague” – to run itself in a chaotic, slipshod, unhygienic, inhumane and seriously under-regulated fashion. We are introduced to whistle-blowers, activists and politicians who are advocating not so much for revolution as transparency, while farmers and industry reps are also given their say.

The film does have a point of view, though, and a strong one, and will doubtless cause some consternation among those who don’t want their ways challenged. The thing that shines through, however, is the integrity of the McIntyres: they didn’t set out to challenge an industry, they simply learned about it, and what they learned, we all, as Australians who love Skippy, need to know.