Liz Marshall, Director of “The Ghosts In Our Machine”

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Liz Marshall—an award-winning filmmaker whose latest project is directing the acclaimed documentary “The Ghosts In Our Machine,” which chiefly examines the work and life of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur—discusses the meaning behind the film’s titular ghosts. Opening NightShe also explains the rationale behind making a full-length documentary about McArthur as she photographs an array of abused and exploited (and happy!) animals, and the attendant issues raised, rather than simple shooting a doc focused directly on those animals and issues; Marshall notes the magnified large_i214UXhjNSS12IIwRqc0zqjw0f5cinematic power here in documenting the documenter, as it were, feeling this gambit would amplify McArthur’s work and the awareness it engenders. Marshall recounts how, before starting the project, she had limited familiarity with many of the animal welfare issues exposed and explored in “The Ghosts In Our Machine,” which likely accounts for the way the film projects a sense of discovery, of learning, as it unspools. She also addresses the three scenes in the movie during which McArthur is engaged in the happy work of photographing cows and other animals at Farm Sanctuary, an ongoing experience that’s clearly restorative for her. Marshall adds, at the end of the conversation, a brief anecdote about receiving Radiohead’s permission to use their song “Give Up The Ghost,” over which the film’s end credits roll. (www.theghostsinourmachine.com, www.facebook.com/TheGhostsInOurMachine www.lizmars.com)

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Debra Starr of The Animal Network, a nonprofit organization in Manatee County, discussing their so-called “Love Posts”—an ongoing art project through which people can salute their pets, past and present, and support Animal Network’s efforts in the process. (www.animalnetworkinc.com, www.facebook.com/pages/Animal-Network-Inc/210619118961629)

COMEDY CORNER: Robert Schimmel’s “Swimming With A Dolphin” (portion)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” They Might Be Giants’ “CowTown,” Radiohead’s  “Give Up The Ghost,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The Everly Brothers’  “Bird Dog”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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