'War Room' Directors Turn to Kickstarter for Animal Rights Documentary

Unlocking The Cage - H 2014

Unlocking The Cage - H 2014

The in-the-works doc "Unlocking the Cage," directed by D. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, spotlights the work of the Nonhuman Rights Project to help sentient creatures get basic human rights.

Documentarians DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus have turned to Kickstarter to fund their monkey business, but this kind is no laughing matter.

The husband-wife directors of The War Room, the Oscar-nominated documentary about Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, have turned to the funding platform to raise money for their new film Unlocking the Cage, which documents a lawyer's mission to gain legal personhood for nonhuman animals.

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With seven days remaining, the Kickstarter campaign has already raised nearly $56,000 of its $75,000 goal, which must be met by May 22. The filmmaking duo has followed Nonhuman Rights Project president Steven Wise, who has been an animal rights lawyer for 34 years.

Wise recently made international headlines when he and his organization, the Nonhuman Rights Project, filed the first lawsuits demanding rights for four chimpanzees in New York.

"It was the first time that somebody had tried to do this type of case," Hegedus told The Hollywood Reporter. "He was claiming under habeas corpus that they should be released because they are persons and they have the capacity to be persons."

Pennebaker and Hegedus have secured 75 percent of the funds they are seeking to continue documenting Wise's efforts in the courtroom.

The pair is offering many prizes, including some donated by famous friends, to their top contributors.

Composer Stephen Sondheim is offering rare signed DVD copies of Pennebaker's documentary Company, about the musical of the same name. The Coen Brothers have donated a bundle, which includes signed copies of Inside Llewyn Davis and Down the Mountain. Documentarian Michael Moore will lend his voice to record voicemails for supporters that pledge $500.

The filmmakers also got a video endorsement from Alec Baldwin, who stresses, "You're not just helping to fund a film, you're helping to fund the ongoing work of a pair of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all time."

Watch the clip below.