Animal cruelty trial, Americans’ Persian wedding in Iran chronicled in documentaries

Two new documentaries are airing this week: Tonight, PBS’ Independent Lens debuts a documentary about an American couple’s Persian wedding, while on Monday, HBO debuted Death on a Factory Farm, which re-airs frequently this month and next.

Arusi Persian Wedding is director Marjan Tehrani’s film about her American brother’s wedding in Iran. As PBS says, her brother “Alex, a photographer, and his American bride, Heather, an art gallery administrator, decide[d] to make a trip from New York City to Iran to have a Persian wedding–just as Alex’s own Iranian father and American mother did in 1968, when Iran and the U.S. were still allies.” The film explores “the mixed reactions of their parents and friends, reports of war in the Middle East, bureaucratic headaches and their own nerves.”

In Death on a Factory Farm, Tom Simon and Sarah Teale follow the trial of pig farmers in Ohio who were charged with animal cruelty as a result of some horrifying undercover footage including, as HBO says, “piglets being tossed into crates from across a room, impregnated sows held in pens that don’t allow them to move, an unhealthy piglet being slammed against a wall to euthanize it, and a sick sow being hung by a chain from a forklift until it choked to death.”

HBO notes that annually, “ten billion animals are raised for consumption in the U.S., mostly on sprawling, industrialized farms, where virtually no federal laws mandate how the animals are treated — though guidelines exist — and state laws are ineffective. As a result, animals are frequently subjected to what many consider cruel treatment and inhumane conditions in the interest of economic efficiency.” Ohio hog farmers have several videos on YouTube that serve as a response to the footage in the film, which they say is “not reflective of Ohio’s pork industry as a whole.”

Here are several segments from Death on a Factory Farm:

Arusi Persian Wedding [PBS]
Death on a Factory Farm [HBO]

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.