Filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin spent several years getting to know a bunch of literal asses for the resplendent, relaxed, moving, and wholly sympathetic Do Donkeys Act?, a look at animals recuperating and moving on with their lives at several shelters for abused animals (including one in Guelph, Ontario).

Philosophically narrated by Willem Dafoe – asking big, unanswerable questions about the meaning of all life and how donkeys think and feel – Do Donkeys Act? is somewhat abstract, but never enough to be classified as obtuse. Redmon and Sabin want the viewer to ponder if these noble creatures are as annoying as their historical reputation suggests or if we’ve had them pegged all wrong. Considering the stories of how the animals in these sanctuaries have been abused or neglected to horrific degrees before arriving in their new, safe homes, it’s easy to say that no living creatures deserve to go through anything similar.

There’s a lot to chew on here and it only takes a few seconds to see these donkeys as charming, loving creatures. It’s an artfully made, meditative film, and also a perfectly intentioned advocacy film that delivers its message as gently as possible. There’s no overarching story, but one isn’t needed. Redmon and Sabin have delivered their questions about life and existence as splendidly as possible.

Is Do Donkeys Act? essential festival viewing?

It’s a bit more of an art film than a standard documentary, but it’s worth making some time for this one.

Do Donkeys Act? screening times

Do Donkeys Act? Trailer

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