Real Fur is a new documentary highlighting filmmaker Taimoor Choudhry’s journey of discovery of the fur industry in Canada. The documentary is now showing in film festivals internationally, including the upcoming Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival on Saturday, November 12.
The Fur-Bearers connected with Taimoor to share more about the film, his hopes, and what audiences can expect.
Q: Much of Real Fur Film involves your personal journey of knowledge regarding the fur industry. What was the first thing you learned about that compelled you to learn more, and ultimately make the documentary?
A: I was walking down the street in Vancouver one day and noticed that people were wearing these weird parkas with fur hoods and funnily enough so was I. At that moment I questioned where this fashion came from and what was involved in obtaining these furs. I went to The Fur-Bearers’ office to find out more. I was shocked and saddened to learn about the cruel trapping practices and about fur farming in Canada. I saw some of those “humane traps” that are basically a metal device that slam shut on the leg of a coyote or other animals, and sometimes hold the coyote there for days and they have to chew their own leg off to escape.
The worst thing I found out was that I was actually wearing dog fur on my parka for the past five years because of the lack of labeling laws in this country. I felt like a fool that I was walking with my companion animal on the street while simultaneously wearing another dog around my $1200 Mackage jacket which falsely printed Asiatic raccoon on the label! This is a common example of the humanewashing and false marketing that these companies participate in! From that moment I’ve dedicated my time, energy, money and passion into the making of Real Fur Film and the Make Fur Farms History campaign.
Q: How did your cultural background and relationships with your family affect your process of this journey and the creation of the documentary?
A: Pakistan is a very poor nation with the fifth largest population in the world. The first question that always gets asked from family or people from my region, is that ‘there are so many humans in need of food and help, why are you helping the animals?’ People who pose this question do not understand that animals have the same sentience as we do.
When launching this project I had little help and had to personally finance this project because no one could understand the vision behind the documentary. I wanted to make change through the power of cinema and bring light to a movement that very few people knew about. I also wanted to show that animals have the same sentience as us and they feel pain and discomfort just as we do.
Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced as a director through the process?
A: The greatest challenge I faced in this process was probably myself. I was the dragon that stood in my own way, fear of rejection, fear of this project not taking off or accomplishing making a difference. I was full of despair, hopelessness and unsure how to tackle such a big and cruel industry that had existed for centuries. After all, what can one person do?
When I was able to have complete faith that if I’m going to do this noble work and help animals, I will get all the help I need – I was able to get out of my own way and really pursue this project.
I received help from a whole community of changemakers – including The Fur-Bearers, Animal Justice, Last Chance for Animals, Montreal SPCA and more. A whistleblower even came forward to help expose what was happening behind closed doors on a mink farm. Many incredible individuals and organizations came together to help make a difference and speak up on this important issue. When you watch Real Fur, you can truly see everyone coming together and how impactful that can be.
Q: What’s one thing you think will surprise people most about the fur industry in Canada?
A: The fur industry is a dead industry and is actually propped up financially with tax dollars. In fact, over $100 million dollars in public funds are being paid out to these industries because people no longer want to buy fur. Most Canadians are shocked to learn that their tax dollars are supporting such a cruel industry that they oppose.
And if we think this industry creates jobs, you should hear whistleblower Dan Starr’s testimony on how the industry exploits fur farm workers. It pays them minimum wages and makes them work in terrible conditions, I mean who wants to work in a place that kills thousands of animals? Would you?
Q: What do you think will be the biggest takeaways for audiences?
A: The biggest takeaway will be that Real Fur seeks to empower people with knowledge but also inspire them with a tangible call to action. People can help these animals by simply asking their MP to support a bill calling for a federal ban on fur farms. Real Fur worked with MP Nathaniel Erskine Smith and Animal Justice to table Bill 247. The bill was introduced but needs support to pass. You can read more about the bill and simply sign a letter to help #MakeFurFarmsHistory in Canada!
Q: What’s next for the film?
A: Currently, Real Fur is appearing at film festivals internationally (USA, Scotland, Australia). While we greatly appreciate the recognition, nominations and awards – this is more than a movie – it is a movement and we are asking for your support to help us ban fur farms in Canada. The time to act on this is now – with the bill in parliament needing support. Together we can make a difference! Give us a follow on social media and check out our film and campaign websites to learn more.
Q: What’s next for you? Another documentary? A follow-up on this one?
A: For now, I need to see this campaign through and take it to the next level. I’m determined to help ban fur farms in Canada! The reason that I went to school to become a filmmaker was to help all sentient beings. I want this film to reach and inspire as many people as possible so that the world finds out the reality of what is happening behind closed doors in these horrific fur farms.