Fighting bulls are selected for their aggressive spirit. Like racehorses bred for the track they are highly prized and their welfare is paramount. Beef cattle, on the other hand, are bred and reared purely for meat. Only a very small proportion are kept for breeding - nearly all bull calves are castrated.
In 2006 and 2007, I ran naked through the streets of Pamplona to draw attention to the suffering of bulls used in this festival. I saw for myself how cruelly people treated the bulls, and although the streets were crowded with members of the media, there was hardly any coverage of the ugly truth behind the sound bites. The 30-second snippets never show the bulls as they are whipped and goaded to get them to race out of their holding pens. Pamplona's narrow cobblestone streets are slippery and slick with spilled beer, and the bulls frequently lose their footing and fall, breaking their horns and bones and sustaining cuts and bruises, and drunken revellers hit them with sticks and rolled-up newspapers.
This is the hair-raising moment one rodeo rider came perilously close to death, after 1500lb of muscular snorting rage reared up above the professiona...
Making a film about bullfighting is a tricky thing. One cameraman turned down the job on ethical grounds. A couple of well-known Mexican musicians said "no way" to doing the score, they hated bullfighting. "It's not about the rights and wrongs of bullfighting", we said, myself and my co-director Gabriel Range. "That's disgusting and chickening out", said one friend. "Hey, I eat steak, what's the difference?", asked another cameraman, who took a job. That bullfighting is cruel is a given. But those who participate in it say it's so much more. Our film was about child bullfighters - why on earth, in this day and age, a small child would chose to put him or herself in front of a large, bellowing beast?