Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's Award Program to Ban Use of Primates in Film SubmissionsJune 29th, 2006
San Francisco, Calif. – The Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s
Award (CCRFA) program won’t be allowing for any more monkey business in
its celebrated competition for student filmmakers, according to a
statement issued yesterday by the Coca-Cola Company. After being
notified by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) that Cody and Sable,
the chimpanzee "stars" of the winning CCRFA film entry for 2006, are
currently the subjects of a lawsuit ALDF has filed against their
"trainer," Sid Yost, the world’s largest beverage company is amending
their film submission guidelines to help prevent the further
exploitation of our closest relatives on the silver screen. Their
statement to ALDF notes that "in light of the concerns you raised we
are prepared to eliminate the use of primates in any future productions
for this program...." They also state that they are committed to
limiting the use of any animals in future production submissions. The
Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award has been presented to an
outstanding film student every year since 1997, and the winner is
selected by a blue-ribbon panel of entertainment industry experts.
Why is life no stroll on the red carpet for chimpanzees like Cody and Sable? Sid "Ranger Rick" Yost has been convicted of crimes involving the possession and exhibition of animals on multiple occasions. In November 2005, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with four other plaintiffs, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Yost for violating the Endangered Species Act and the California anti-cruelty statute by subjecting the chimpanzees in his possession, including the pair who appeared in the CCRFA’s 2006 winner "The Reel Monkey," to regular beatings and abuse. Co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including primatologist Sarah Baeckler, who investigated Yost for more than a year, have witnessed him repeatedly and violently beat chimpanzees with sticks, punch them with his fists, and inflict excessive pain on them in order to force them to perform for film, television, and public appearances. The case is scheduled to be heard later this year.
"There is nothing glamorous about the behind-the-scenes cruelty that abusive men employ to force chimpanzees—who, let us keep in mind, are wild animals, not aspiring actors—to perform on command," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. "We’re delighted that the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award Program is using its unique position to encourage young filmmakers to come up with creative, innovative alternatives to using often-exploited live animals in their films."
Statement of Settlement