A twelve-hour hostage situation was finally ended in the Ukraine earlier today after the assailant's demands were met, which included forcing the President of the country to encourage everyone to watch a feature film with Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix. The New York Times reports that the gunman, who took thirteen hostages on a city bus in Lutsk, Ukraine, demanded that President Volodymyr Zelensky endorse the the 2005 documentary film Earthlings which Phoenix narrated. Zelensky posted a short message on Facebook, writing: , “Everybody watch the 2005 documentary ‘Earthlings,'" which he later deleted. The feature film was written and directed by Shaun Monson, who Phoenix has collaborated with on multiple occasions.
According to The Times, the assailant was identified as Maksim Krivosh, a 44-year-old former convict. Krivosh went on social media before taking his hostages to post parts of his manifesto. While on the city bus, the stand-off reportedly lasted almost twelve hours, Krivosh forced the hostages to watch the film.
Earthlings depicts the world's dependence on animals for a variety of economic purposes in cluding pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. It can be watched for free on its official website. Searches for the film on Google skyrocketed after the incident and Zelensky's "endorsement."
Those familiar with Phoenix's causes and vocal support of veganism should not be surprised by his involvement in the film, but it likely could illuminate many on how long he has been consistent in his own messaging. He's appeared on billboards for PETA and other relevant interests, even bringing it up in his victory speech at this year's Academy Awards after winning the Best Actor prize for Joker.
"I think that we've become very disconnected from the natural world, and many of us, what we're guilty of is an egocentric worldview—the belief that we're the center of the universe," Phoenix said on stage at the event. "We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then, we take her milk, that's intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal, and I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up. But human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment."
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.