Filmmaker and Clarks Green native, Johnny Braz said he hadn’t planned to fall in love with the animals at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary to the degree he did.
“Before doing the film I wasn’t focused as much on the plight of animals like I am now. Another beautiful accident?” said Braz, who collaborated with sanctuary founder and director, Indra Lahiri on a documentary, “Peace, Love & Animals.”
The film received rave reviews at its 2011 premiere in Scranton, and most recently, at the International Animal Rights Conference 2013 in Luxembourg on Sept. 13, a global platform for people active in animal rights. The film screening was followed by a discussion led by Lahiri and Braz on ways in which art can be harnessed for social change.
Indraloka Animal Sanctuary is, according to the Lahiri and the ASPCA, Pennsylvania’s only all-species and farm animal sanctuary.
Lahiri and Braz, who run the sanctuary together, use writing and filmmaking, respectively, to spread their message regarding animal welfare and animal rights’ issues, and were invited to present at the conference based on the international following of their blog, indralokaanimalsanctuary.wordpress.com.
In the last 12 months, their blog has been enjoyed by readers from more than 70 countries on every continent. She writes the stories and he takes the photos and makes the films.
“We collaborate routinely, providing comments, feedback, and editing support on each other’s work,” Lahiri said.
According to Braz, “Peace, Love & Animals” was initially conceived to raise awareness about the sanctuary and “to show people what life is like for (farm) animals that are living out their lives in peace.”
“It’s not a traditional documentary in the sense that it is more of a ‘day in the life’ piece. Audiences seem to really connect to the animals and are fascinated by their lives at a sanctuary after living… abusive lives (most, not all) before.”
Braz’s ultimate goal for the documentary is for the viewers to realize the equality of all animals, and all living things.
Lahiri noted the films and stories are currently being translated into Portuguese, German, French and Spanish. The film is already scheduled to be screened in several Brazilian cities, and the blog stories will now be a featured on an Australian radio show. Additionally, due to a renewed interest and requests from the public, she said they plan to re-release “Peace, Love & Animals” locally again some time soon.
Lizz Robinson, Indraloka’s weekly volunteer feeder for the past four years and one of the volunteer voices on the film, said she was privileged to see the film’s initial debut before it was released to the public.
“I believe the film’s message is one of compassion for all living creatures and for one another,” said Robinson. “Everyone associated with the sanctuary houses this compassion and readily shares it not only with the animals but with each other as well - that is what makes this place so special. It is truly heaven on Earth.”
To learn more about Indraloka Sanctuary, Mehoopany, visit their blog and Facebook page: facebook.com/IndralokaSanctuary?fref=ts.