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Maximum Tolerated Dose intersects art, activism, and compassion

Maximum Tolerated Dose is an artistic and compassionate masterpiece
Maximum Tolerated Dose is an artistic and compassionate masterpiece
Photo courtesy of Karol Orzechowski, used with permission

In spite of endless sums of funding that provides animal research with the finest advanced technology, animal experimentation has always been and always will continue to be doomed to failure. The exorbitant amount of blood-money wastefully dedicated to animal experimentation includes expenditure on the industry’s most unreliable tool - the victims themselves, the animals.

Abolishing animal experimentation, and all infringements on animal’s right to life, requires a global social response. The true cost of animal experimentation extends deep into the global psyche.

The psychology of the animal experimentation industry reveals the emotional costs to humans. While modern day researchers continue to believe they are contributing to the advancement of society, they continue to perpetuate the fallacy that animal experimentation is scientifically viable, the notion that animals are only valuable to humans when used for the benefit of humans, as well as substantiating and sustaining exploitation and speciesism.

Constructed to specifically sway public opinion, these perceptions trickle down into our everyday lives. From advertising, to education, to animal law, the animal exploitation industry pulls the strings of the world economy and deceives consumers with a false sense of humane treatment and protection.

On the other hand, there are the champions of animal rights: the liberators, the rescuers, and the activists. Within this culture of compassion, it is highly significant that former animal industry workers transitioned to advocates for change.

In Maximum Tolerated Dose, the first feature-length documentary by Decipher Films, Producer, Director, and Editor Karol Orzechowski skillfully creates a Hitchkockian suspense without using eye-closing and traumatizing footage that stuns the audience into a state of unbearable shock. Orzechowski orchestrates enigmatic music and riveting photography with a carefully chosen cast of former animal experimentation personnel, authors, and undercover investigators.

Maximum Tolerated Dose is a compassionate and compelling composition. The documentary artistically presents the profound and evolving relationship between humans and animals with immense sensitivity. Likewise, Maximum Tolerated Dose is the result of Karol Orzechowski’s confluence of personal events and experiences.

“I started caring about photography because of punk rock,” Orzechowski says. “Photographers like Glen E. Friedman and Shawn Scallen showed me that you could capture the fury and feeling of a sweaty hardcore show in a 35mm frame.”

Punk rock also prompted Orzechowski to care about animals. “Propagandhi, and to a lesser extent others like Napalm Death, wrote songs that made me interrogate my oppressive relationship with other animals and asked me if I thought it was possible to consider someone else. It was.”

“It wasn’t until 2005, when I joined the Animal Voices radio program with host Lauren Corman, that I really got schooled on animal issues,” Orzechowski says. “Animal Voices was and continues to be a unique presence in the Animal Advocacy media field.”

Animal Voices mixes activism and academia in an uncompromising approach to the issues intersecting animal rights, feminism, anti-racism, human rights, environmentalism, and the many other social justice issues that overlap and intertwine. As Orzechowski’s first real exposure to animal activism, he states, “Being a part of the Animal Voices program was definitely the most formative aspect of my animal activism.”

In both undergraduate and master’s programs, Orzechowski studied the intersection of nationalism and animal practices. Orzechowski’s undergraduate thesis focused on the Atlantic seal hunt and his master’s thesis addressed Canadian rodeo culture.

With the Animal Voices program as a base, Orzechowski began to incorporate his artistic practice of photography into his animal work. After a few years of more experimental work under the moniker of Decipher Films, Orzechowski began making short films on animal issues in 2009.

“Over the next three years,” Orzechowski says, “I made a wide range of shorts on animal issues, working with folks like Igualdad Animal and Jo-Anne McArthur very closely. That experience of shooting animal-related subjects was invaluable to developing my skills on screen.”

Priceless, indeed. As opposed to the scientific purpose of using animals in a calculated system of selection and systemization to help humans, Orzechowski’s poetic documentary verifies the sanctity of all animal life and our equal, reciprocal, and enlightening kinship with animals.

Destroying life for the sake of inaccurate answers to human problems is not the answer. However, animal experimentation continues across the globe and it’s not going to stop unless we do something.

Click here to watch Maximum Tolerated Dose online. The Deluxe Edition is an affordable $8.50 and the Economy Edition is $5. Subtitles are available in Polish, German, Russian, Finnish, and Italian.

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