Full Review: DO DONKEYS ACT? (Canada/Ireland/UK/USA 2017) ***

Do Donkeys Act? Poster
Donkeys inhabit and communicate with each other – and the filmmakers – in a Sanctuary.


David RedmonAshley Sabin


Willem Dafoe

It has to happen eventually – a documentary on donkeys from the donkey’s point of view.


One might complain as the poetic prose narrative voiced by actor Willem Dafoe.  It might seem really silly, but after a while, one might accept the directors’ decision and play along with this somewhat funny poetic play.  Sample proses:  “These donkeys have a wind of curiosity on their side.”  “When donkeys walk to a dead end… They have several ways in but no way out.”  Dafoe is the ideal choice as the narrator of such sayings/


The film begins with words on the screen saying how other animals communicate without words but with song or rhythm.  It then goes to say that still others communicate by gestures in the shadows – whatever that means.  So, DO DONKEYS ACT? invites the audience to “step into their shade and to listen closely” as the audience attune to a series of dramatic performances in which one can eavesdrop on donkeys speaking amongst themselves.


The film elicits the audience’s pity of donkeys.  The film is quick to point out that these donkeys are often abused and neglected.  One was stabbed many times be teens playing stab the donkey with a knife while another is blind.  One was shown in neglect with long curved nails ingrown due to its hoofs.  The nails are removed by cutting using clippers.  Still, the directors show that these are still beautiful creatures with their thick manes and loud and distinct braying.  Hee-haw, hee-haw!!! 

     Among the film’s highlights are:


the donkey at the dentist (a live dental experience like an alien encounter;)


a beautiful and moving sight of donkeys freely running around in the open after a long winter confinement


the birth of a new foal


the feeding of a foal


Directors  David Redmon and Ashley Sabin have worked before on films like GIRL MODEL and KINGDOM OF ANIMALS as well as several other documentaries.  DO DONKEYS ACT? clearly shows assured work, quirky though it may seem, but still thoroughly entertaining.


Though it might seem trivial to learn more about donkeys, curiosity eventually has its day in this occasionally fascinating portrayal of the neglected animal who is still part of God’s animal Kingdom.  Everything you wanted to know that happens inside a donkey sanctuary. The film was shot in several docket sanctuaries in the U.K., U.S., Ireland and Canada including the one in Guelph, Ontario.


The film played to rave reviews at the Hit Docs Festival this year in Toronto.


Trailer: https://vimeo.com/200043031



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