RKS 2023 Toronto Hot Docs: “Rowdy Girl”

“Rowdy Girl” examines the story of two married former cattle ranchers in Texas, Renee King-Sonnen and Tommy Sonnen, who have transitioned out of ranching and into running the “Rowdy Girl Sanctuary” in Texas for abandoned, lost and unwanted farm animals. In that story about these former ranchers we learn why they have converted to vegans primarily based on compassion for animals used in factory animal production. A system in which farmers have lost control of their land, finances and product to a concentrated food industry that has depleted the soil and destroyed the natural habitat threatening the survival of flora and fauna.

Renee lays the cards on the table saying every time you put a fork of meat into your mouth you are legitimizing hit men who slaughter animals in a cruel and barbaric way. The Sonnen’s advance the vegan party line but in a non-threatening and non-accusatorial fashion. They would rather raise consciousness through tours to their Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and their Rancher Advocacy Programme assisting animal factory farmers to transition to plant-based agriculture such as a chicken farmer they assisted to raise exotic mushrooms to avoid “normalized violence and murder of animals”. Somewhat ironically the Sonnen’s former role as cattle ranchers affords them credibility with ranchers.

The documentary is one that tells a story without proselytizing or shocking you with slaughter scenarios. It may reinforce your vegan/vegetarian views or rile you up with rants against these strange former ranchers. At least hear them out and make your decision if you are a doubter of the desirability of meat consumption. I will tip my hand by saying I have reduced my meat consumption for the last decade to almost nil based on “moral grounds”. I was in Porto Portugal in February for Wine and Travel Week. Two lunches were featured. One was surf and one was turf. I skipped the turf lunch and settled for a muffin as the smell of cooked beef permeated through the Alfandega (old custom’s house). That smell made me queasy.

You gotta love Sealy the turkey with personality!

This film has its international premiere at Toronto Hot Docs Festival on 29April and 3May and streams to devices in Canada 5-9May.

Directed and produced by Jason Goldman.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

2 thoughts on “RKS 2023 Toronto Hot Docs: “Rowdy Girl”

  1. Love it
    Great article about the “Rowdy Girl” documentary! It’s inspiring to see former cattle ranchers transition into running a sanctuary for abandoned farm animals and promoting compassion for animals in the food production industry.
    Eamon O’Keeffe


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