CAMDEN, Maine — Tess Gerritsen is well-known for her novels, but over the last few years, she's added filmmaker to her resume. The New York Times bestselling author teamed up with her filmmaker son, Josh Gerritsen, to explore what for most people is considered a commonplace animal: the pig.
The mother and son duo spent two years traveling the world in search of the simple question of why the pig is so hated by some cultures and so revered by others.
In "Magnificent Beast," the Maine-based filmmakers went on a journey all over the U.S., England, and even to the pyramids of Eygpt. They spoke to archeologists, chefs, theologists, farmers, and scholars. They were invited into the homes of pig pet owners, of which there are many in the U.S., and they even went hunting for wild boar.
"They are both our friend and our food source and our enemy and it's this multifaceted thing about this particular animal that made a really good subject," said Tess.
The film is a balance of perspectives of those who love pigs so much they share their bedrooms with hogs and those that despise swine and the destruction they can cause.
"What's interesting about feral swine is I would argue that they're one of the most successful invasive species in the history of the world," said Josh. Currently, there are 35 states in the union that have feral hogs. They can be dangerous and wreak havoc for farmers. Luckily, Maine is not one of them.
"Magnificent Beast" is a leap in a new direction for the mother and son duo. They had previously made a horror film called "Island Zero."
The film explores many different opinions about pigs and possible theories about why their meat is shunned by Muslims and Jews. One thing the film makes clear: pigs are smart, sentient creatures.
"What I came away with is how much they are like us in good ways and bad which makes them interesting companions but formidable foes," said Tess.
"Magnificent Beasts" will continue to be shown at film festivals and libraries across the state this summer. It will be available to stream later this year.
Josh Gerritsen, who is also a selectman in Lincolnville, is currently working on his second documentary about a Maine company called GO LAB. Tess has a novel coming out in July called "Choose Me" and another one being released next year.