“This film is an endeavor to consider cows. To move us closer to them. To see both their beauty and the challenge of their lives. Not in a romantic way but in a real way. It’s a film about one dairy cow’s reality and acknowledging her great service to us. When I look at Luma, our cow, I see the whole world in her.” (Andrea Arnold, director of “Cow.”) During the Q&A, Andrea Arnold did say that Luma, the cow protagonist was suffering from mastitis at the end of the film.

In 2009 Arnold’s film “Fish Tank” won a Special Grand Jury prize and a Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. Andrea Arnold—who directed her first feature film at the age of 45—also worked on “Big Little Lies.” Virtually all of her Season 2 work on  the television series Big Little Lies was extensively re-shot and re-edited by Jean-Marc Vallee, against her wishes, supposedly for “visual continuity.” When asked about this at Cannes, where “Cow” was shown, she refused to speak to that topic.

The film sticks to the point-of-view of one cow (Luma) and her daughter. Arnold, the director, called Luma “a particularly beautiful cow” and  said that she felt that the cow realized she was being seen.

There is no narrative or dialogue. All you hear is the music playing in the background as the dairy farm workers care for the cows.There is human perspective in the film, but the documentary is  focused on the cow.
The farm that let the crew film is shown breeding the cows, delivering the calves, feeding the cows, milking the cows,  trimming the cows’ hooves, etc.

The cows are essentially prisoners.

You definitely empathize with the cow. At the end of the film, the cow ends up the way most cows end up who are raised for public consumption. I felt I should become a vegetarian, but I don’t like vegetables much and was raised in the Midwest, where beef is practically a religion.

Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”) filmed “Cow” for 4 years and conceived of the project 7 years prior. In 2005 Arnold’s film “Wasp” won the Oscar for Best Short Film, live action.

I saw “Cow” in Chicago at the 57th Chicago International Film Festival on a big screen. Watching “Cow” on a big screen is disorienting because the camera work is very herky-jerky. I walked out feeling dizzy and sad.

Arnold said she wanted viewers to have their own different experiences. “I don’t want to say to you what you should come out with. I’m offering the film to you and you take away whatever you take away.”  She described the goal of making the documentary as: “To show consciousness of a non-human animal.”

“Cow” will be released in January of 2022.