The Ghosts in Our Machine: A Film by Liz Marshall

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on October 31, 2013


This Halloween, let’s reflect on real ghosts: the billions of animals exploited for food, fur, and in laboratories, and the hidden suffering they endure. Liz Marshall’s new documentary, The Ghosts in Our Machine, brings to light the haunting way the “machine” of our modern world transforms these sentient beings into mere specters. The Ghosts in Our Machine is a rallying cry for animal advocates and questions the legal status of animals as property. ALDF is thrilled to be a campaign partner supporting the film, which opens in the U.S. in New York City on November 8, and in Los Angeles on November 15th.

Marshall’s film chronicles activist Jo-Anne McArthur’s photographic documentation of animals held captive for food and in other industries around the globe. As she demonstrates in the film, the machine of the animal industry includes smaller farms and large industrial facilities, supposedly-“humanely” raised animals and animals skinned alive in fur farms. Fur farms and factory farms are growing, not decreasing. More marine theme parks and zoos are opening, not closing.

When animals become a cog in the machine, they become ghosts; their exploitation relegated to the shadow of our lives, and their abuse taken for granted. So the question becomes, how do we get the story out about industrialized animal cruelty, to audiences who don’t want to hear, or see, or know? After witnessing so much harrowing cruelty, McArthur says “I feel like I’m a war photographer and I’m photographing history.” ALDF spoke with the film’s director, Liz Marshall, recently about her film and the virtual war on animals.


What led you to focus on the wider global perspective on factory farming?

I wanted The Ghosts in Our Machine to have a global and timeless quality. Hopefully, the “timeless” part will change eventually and the industrial complex will collapse, and we won’t have this voracious system that has reduced billions of animals, annually, to mere products for our use.

Why do we value companion animals but not the billions bred and used annually by industry?

Through marketing and socialization, we choose to not “see” the ghosts, or we are just unaware. The ghosts are the invisible animals used within the machine of our modern world; they are often hidden from our view. So even if our eyes are already open, we need to work at keeping them open—that is part of bearing witness and being conscious, for them. Animals have been divided into three parts: companion animals, wildlife, and the ones we don’t like to think of—the ghosts in our machine.

What are some of the worst industries for the animals considered “ghosts”?

Factory farming that uses animals for food or fur. Animals farmed for food in industrialized farms. Animals used for biomedical research, bred and used for entertainment within circuses and marine theme parks… because it really is all about the bottom line—business and profit. The animals are commodities; they are not treated as sentient creatures.


So profit overrides our value of sentient creatures, not just in our hearts, but in the eyes of the law?

Indeed. Laws need to change, worldwide, to reflect a new paradigm.

How would you like to see consumers get more involved with bringing the ghostly world of animal suffering out of the darkness?

What I love about this issue is that it’s empowering. The Ghosts in Our Machine is not a “doom and gloom” film; our hope is that after people view the film they will reflect inwardly about their own daily consumer choices. All consumers can reduce their animal footprint, which means that we can look at ingredients differently, and we can make more compassionate choices. For more information, visit the NYC Facebook page and the LA Facebook page for the film.

Tell us your ghost-free journey: what are you doing to bring attention to animal exploitation?

8 thoughts on “The Ghosts in Our Machine: A Film by Liz Marshall

  1. gill kilroy says:

    I sign just about every petition, often with my own comments on man’s inhumanity to the animal species. Did a letter to African leader only yesterday re what they are doing to Lions there!! I contribute when i can as I cannot afford much, and I share a lot of these on my Facebook page.

  2. Marcelina Romero says:

    If you know family, friends, neighbors, co-workers & strangers are doing things that you know Are Wrong, SPEAK UP FOR THE VOICELESS BEFORE ITS TOO LATE! Imagine how Upset & DISGUSTED your going to be with YOURSELF if something HORRIFIC happens & you did NOTHING to Help! 

  3. Hank m says:

    Excellent! Can’t wait to see this film when it hits the sf bay area

  4. Hank Miller says:

    Really looking forward to viewing this film when it hits the SF Bay Area. Any dates forthcoming? thanks!

  5. Tamie Baccoli says:

    Thank you for your insight into the daily horrors so many animals face and for presenting it to the public in a documentary format. What humans overlook because of selfishness and greed is appalling. Good job of bringing the plight of so many helpless souls to light.

  6. Belle says:

    Thank you Liz, you are an angel on this earth and so is Joanne MacArthur. I haven’t seen the film yet and look forward to it, as painful as I imagine it will be. You guys are on the front lines in this atrocious war and we support and appreciate all you are doing.

  7. Diane Hershfield says:

    I speak up whenever and wherever I can for animals, no matter what. Signing petitions, sharing everything on Twitter and Facebook, talking with friends and coworkers, giving out literature, etc. I’ll give money whenever I can, which isn’t much, but if I can spare it, it goes to some organization that needs it for their animals. It’s your actions that define who you are, not words.

  8. very nice and good work, keep it up, am very impressed with your work, only the experts can do such a great work.
    Used Cars in Middle East

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.