In his new film, UNITY, writer/director Shaun Monson (the man behind EARTHLINGS) takes an in-depth look at what it truly means to be human. The film presents a message of love, tragedy and hope, all set against the backdrop of some of the most compelling 20th and 21st century footage imaginable.
It’s a one-night cinematic event, playing in multiple locations nationwide on August 12, 2015.
UNITY features a dizzying array of 100 celebrity narrators including Ellen Degeneres, Kevin Spacey, Adrian Grenier, Joaquin Phoenix, Selena Gomez, Adam Levine, Pamela Anderson, Ben Kingsley, Common, Deepak Chopra, Geoffrey Rush, Dr. Dre, Zoe Saldana, Aaron Paul, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Moby, Susan Sarandon.
We were lucky enough to interrupt Shaun Monson’s busy schedule for an interview.
NARN: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (where you grew up, what you did before making documentaries, are you vegan and if so, what made you decide to go vegan? If you aren’t, why not)?
SM: I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to be a movie director, but it was a difficult industry to break into. I got my first chance directing a public service announcement commercial. I have been a vegan for around 15 years. I became one after seeing footage of animals being slaughtered for food.
NARN: Why did you decide to make Earthlings? What did you hope to accomplish? Are you happy with its impact?
SM: I made the film Earthlings because at the time, I was not aware of any film that tackled all of the issues involving human abuse of animals for economic purposes. With the movie Earthlings, I hoped to accomplish awareness of this exact issue. I am happy with the impact. It outdid what I had expected the film to do.
NARN: Why did you decide to make Unity? What do you hope to accomplish with it’s release?
SM: Unity is an extension of Earthlings. Earthlings focuses on the achievement of one group of beings (mainly animals), while Unity focuses on the perception of all beings. Like the last question, I hope to accomplish increased awareness.
NARN: I really like that this movie mentions social justice and other systems of oppression in addition to animal exploitation. Can you say a bit about why those issues are important to you and why you wanted to include them in your movie?
SM: Any time we deal with dominion, it is because a group of beings oppress another for whatever reason. On the surface, it may be social justice, but at the core, they deal with the same problem–dominion and all of its forms.
NARN: What other animal- or environmental-related documentaries do you admire?
SM: I like all of them. I commend anyone who is making an effort to raise awareness of suffering, dominion, injustice and other related issues.
NARN: How widely will Unity be distributed? How can we see it? How can we convince all of our friends to see it?
SM: For starters, theatrical distribution will be worldwide. But, since only a small percentage of the world lives within driving distances of a theater that is playing it, another worldwide release will occur online in the fall. As for encouraging friends and family to see it–tell them that if they are to see one documentary this year, please let it be Unity.
NARN: How did you get all of those celebrities to narrate it?
SM: It started with one, then two, then four, then eight and so on. It kept on multiplying. It took many years–not just to record, but to edit together.
Please watch Unity in theaters tomorrow!