More than 100 film fans in Stockholm, Sweden attended a secret horror film screening for Halloween 2023, not realizing they’d be watching Dominion, the 2018 documentary exposing animal cruelty in Australian farms and slaughterhouses.
A huge buzz was generated for the mystery event. The screening sold out, with 130 people buying tickets. The Dominion secret screening took place at the Victoria Cinema in central Stockholm. Not only was the film itself secret, but the group of vegan activists behind the event made sure they were completely unknown to the audience in the buildup to the screening.
Audience react to Dominion
According to the organizers, there was a very mixed reaction to the reveal of Dominion. Some walked out of the cinema early on, while others stayed to discuss the movie with the vegan activists who organized the event.
“We were pleased with how the evening turned out, the reactions ranged from anger to sadness, but this was to be expected,” Malin, one of the activists, told Plant Based News (PBN). “Many people told us they understood why we did this even if they didn’t like what they saw.”
There were members of the audience who couldn’t watch the entirety of the Dominion screening but were happy to stay and talk to the vegan activists in the foyer afterward. Some of the attendees are said to have become visibly upset while talking about what they had witnessed in the film.
The importance of Dominion
Dominion was directed by well-known vegan activist Chris Delforce, who co-produced the film with The Farm Transparency Project. Using hidden cameras and drone footage, Delforce exposed farm animal slaughter methods such as the use of carbon dioxide to gas pigs, and the maceration of chicks. While the footage was filmed in Australia, it depicts standard practices used on farms all over the world.
The film also had celebrity backing, with Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix and acclaimed-actor Rooney Mara narrating parts of the film. They were joined in narrating the documentary by Australian popstar Sia and celebrity tattoo-artist Kat Von D. In 2019, Dominion was viewed 55,000 times in 48 hours following a series of coordinated protests across Australia.
It was made after a successful crowdfunding campaign to the public, while also being backed by the Australian animal rights organization Voiceless. Since its release, vegan activists around the world often refer to the film, encouraging people to watch the movie. On the film database IMDb, Dominion is listed under the genres ‘documentary’ and ‘horror’.
Secret screening events have increasingly grown in popularity in recent years. The concept sees a person buying a ticket to a cinema, not knowing what the film will be until it begins in the auditorium. It has been championed by companies like Secret Cinema in the UK, and cinema chain Cineworld has monthly secret screenings as part of its program.
A sell-out event
The secretive Dominion event built its buzz by displaying posters around Stockholm. This was hugely compounded when culture and tourism website Visit Stockholm began advertising the event on its website — the tourist information group’s Instagram page alone has 311,000 followers.
The vegan organizers also secured some support from Swedish plant-based milk brand Oatly and cruelty-free cosmetics company Lush, with both companies supplying gifts for the screening. These were distributed into goodie bags that were given to attendees as they left the auditorium. The bags also contained vegan sweets, information on getting started with a plant-based lifestyle, and discount vouchers for local vegan restaurants.
Tickets for the film raised 10,000 Swedish Krona for a local animal sanctuary, Åsas Hönsfristad, that rescues chickens from the egg and meat industry. Åsa Andersson, who runs the sanctuary, was delighted with the money raised, and told Plant Based News (PBN): “Rescuing one chicken will not change the world, but it will change the world for one chicken.”