The Agony of Activism: Life According to Ohad Movie Review
You might already know that veganism has gained ground rapidly in Israel over the last few years. This has been thanks in a large part to the work of Gary Yourofsky. The result is a new generation of activists, including Ohad Cohen, the subject of the documentary film Life According to Ohad.
But Life According to Ohad is not just a movie about veganism. It’s about understanding who we are, our place in the universe and our understanding of ourselves.
See My Video Review of Life According to Ohad:
The film itself is beautifully done, with numerous subtle but artful touches. At the beginning of the film, there’s a poignant moment when Ohad and his friends are saving chicks from a dumpster. One of them shouts to the others “there’s light over here!” We’re reminded that hope still exists, despite the overwhelming darkness.
Life According to Ohad doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of being an activist. Ohad’s activism makes it difficult for him to remain close to his family. But it also makes him so busy that it’s not easy for him to meet others, either.
What is “a good person”?
When you meet Ohad’s parents, it’s not hard to see where he gets his strong personality from. His mother spends much of the time crying while her husband and son fight together about animal rights. Both father and son want to live honourable lives. They just don’t agree on what that means.
For Ohad’s father, a good person is someone who obeys the law. Ohad sees things very differently. For him, it’s about doing the right thing as he sees it.
Part of this divide is generational. Previous generations weren’t encouraged to discover the truth for themselves, whereas today many people realize that it’s important to question what we’ve been taught. Still, many people choose to avoid making these choices, and rely on society to decide for them.
How do we relate to our families?
Early in the film, Ohad reflects on the fact that he’s always in a dilemma between his family and his other world. I think this is the dilemma of every activist, but also of every human being. We all have parts of ourselves our families don’t understand. And eventually we have to discover who we are.
One night while dining in his parents’ home, Ohad is discussing veganism, and he brings up how concepts of superior and inferior races leads inexorably to atrocities.
Emotional tensions rise quickly. Had pleads with his father that what we do to animals is an eternal holocaust. His father rejects his argument – but not by arguing with whether that’s true. Instead, he tells Ohad this is “a world where your ideas cannot exist.”
Fortunately, Ohad and his family work very hard to restore their relationship, but it’s a battle for everyone.
The importance of connecting with others and finding community
Ohad’s friends clearly play a vital role in his life. The movie really demonstrates how critical being part of a community is for activists. The work Ohad does is emotionally draining, and could leave anyone with a pretty grim view of humanity.
Part of the way through the film, Ohad starts dating a young woman who is also interested in activism, and it’s amazing to see the change it makes in his life. I think more than anything, it shows our deep to share our beliefs with those closest to us.
I was privileged to have the opportunity to see this film, thanks to director Eri Daniel Erlich. It’s truly a beautiful film, and will go down as one of my favourites, not just about veganism, but in general. This film is definitely intended for mature audiences (there are some scenes both of violence towards animals and humans), so I wouldn’t recommend it for younger viewers.
You can rent Life According to Ohad here: http://www.ohad-doc.com/