Press Quotes

“Thoughtful, Compelling and Heroic. The film made me proud to be a primate.” - Jon Stewart

“‘Unlocking The Cage’ is a smart, heroic act of film-making.” - Isa Freeling, The Huffington Post

“In their new documentary, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus bring their relaxed, acute observational style of filmmaking to bear on a thorny tangle of legal and philosophical questions. Observant and absorbing.” - A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Fascinating.” - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

“Illuminating.” - Sam Weisberg, Village Voice

“A surprisingly suspenseful and compelling courtroom thriller... Simply put, Unlocking the Cage tells a great story.” - Anthony Kaufman, Screen Daily

“Veteran doc-makers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus follow attorney Steven Wise - and his activist collaborators, the Nonhuman Rights Project - as they attempt to prove in a court of law that chimpanzees deserve the same legal protection as humans. The outcome of their efforts could forever alter how the judicial system handles to concept of inter-species rights, or at the very least how captive animals at zoos, marine parks etc. are treated. An eye-opener, this.” - David Fear, Rolling Stone

“A crisp  and convincing doc.” - Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter

“Eye-opening.” - Laura Berger, Indiewire

“A thoughtful work of advocacy and an insightful profile of Wise, yet another subject of Pennebaker's who is changing the system from the inside out.” - Noah Gittell,

“A fascinating film about a passion-raising topic.” - Jim Slotek, Toronto Sun

“A thoughtful, hopeful film, filled with dedicated and  inspiring advocates. The courtroom scenes are absolutely fascinating.” - Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

“Oscar worthy. Like all Pennebaker Hegedus Films, access here is mesmerizing.” - Roger Friedman, Showbiz 411

“A uniquely hairy courtroom drama. Thought-provoking.” - Daniel Walber, NonFics

“Legendary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (The War Room) document the pioneering work of animal protection attorney Steven Wise, who seeks personhood rights for animals. If the courts see corporations as  people, why not chimps? That complex question makes ‘Unlocking the Cage’ gripping stuff.” - Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider

“Impeccably shot and paced.”  - Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post

“In the past it was assumed that persons were individual human beings. But then came the Citizens United case, where the personhood of corporations was affirmed. Might the definition be expanded to include certain non-human, non-corporate individual beings?” - Godfrey Cheshire,

”Unlocking the Cage is an extraordinary documentary about a dedicated, patient, clever, and wise advocate for animal rights.” - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

“Should animals – nonhumans – be granted personhood under the law? As outlandish as this may seem, the documentary “Unlocking the Cage,” directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, makes a reasonable case for it.” - Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“In the new documentary ‘Unlocking the Cage,’ attorney Steven Wise makes his case for why animals need legal personhood for their own safety.” - Lewis Beale, The Daily Beast

“Wise proves to be a fascinating communicator. He makes for an interesting and engaging subject.” - John Soltes, Hollywood Soapbox

“Pennebaker and Hegedus are renowned for their unadorned studies of process, and Unlocking The Cage is no different. They ultimately find its thesis statement in a sequence of Wise and his team working to reduce 30 years of his crusade to a single core principle: the detention of an autonomous being is, simply, inhuman. That idea should stay with you long after the credits roll.” - Norman Wilner, Now Toronto

“By the film's finale, it is pretty amazing how convincing, moving and even kind of thrilling Hegedus and Pennebaker have made the Nonhuman Rights Project's cause.” - James Van Maanen , Trust Movies

”Veteran documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker have teamed up again for a timely film about a subject that has been much in the news lately.” - Marina Zogbi, Art for Progress

“Pioneering animal rights lawyer Steven Wise's recent groundbreaking successes are chronicled by legendary filmmaker team Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker in their riveting new documentary which plays like a legal thriller.” - Robin Holland, Talking Pictures

“‘Unlocking the Cage’ follows Steven Wise's groundbreaking journey to grant basic legal rights for our evolutionary kin.  When he finally wins it will be a giant leap forward for our own humanity.” - Louie Psihoyos, Director, Racing Extinction and The Cove

“‘Unlocking the Cage’ follows the heroic effort to recognize the legal rights of sentient animals. Steve Wise's tireless pursuit is an inspiration – we need more people like him in the world.” - Gina Papabeis , Co-producer, Racing Extinction


The POV Interview: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus - ‘Unlocking the Cage’ - POV, 5/9/16

This Man is Trying to Help Chimps — and Soon, Elephants — Sue Their Owners - Interview with Steven Wise - The Washington Post, 5/24/16

We Respond: D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus on ‘Unlocking the Cage’ -, 5/24/16

Live Podcast with Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker - Filmwax Radio, 5/24/16

Do Chimpanzees Deserve Rights and Legal Protections? Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker discuss their new documentary 'Unlocking the Cage,” along with Steven Wise -  The Leonard Lopate Show, 5/25/16

D.A. Pennebaker: Why the 90-Year-Old Documentarian Is Still Driven to Find the Truth in People - Indiewire, 5/27/16

In ‘Unlocking The Cage,’ A Man Fights To Achieve Legal Rights For Animals: Interview with Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker - NPR's All Things Considered, 5/30/16

Harambe's rights were violated long before his tragic death: Op-ed by Steven Wise - New York Daily News, 5/31/16

Pennebaker & Hegedus on Clinton, Bowie & Animal Rights - Pure Non Fiction, 6/2/16

The lawyer fighting for animal rights in 'Unlocking the Cage' asks: 'What kind of being are you?' - Los Angeles Times, 6/24/16

D.A. Pennebaker on Bringing out the Humanity in the Fight for Animal Rights in 'Unlocking the Cage' - The Moveable Feast, 6/27/16