AN AWARD-WINNING animal rights campaigner and film director is returning to Oxford, the city that inspired him to take up the cause.

Tim Phillips, director of the critically acclaimed film Lion Ark, will be attending a screening of his movie at the Ultimate Picture Palace, off Cowley Road, followed by a Q&A session.

Mr Phillips, originally from Shipton-under-Wychwood, West Oxfordshire, said he was inspired to get involved in animal rights after seeing The Animals Film in 1981 at the Phoenix Picturehouse in Walton Street.

He added: “At the time I was living in Oxford, just off the Iffley Road.

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“I was working at the NatWest bank in Witney, and went to go and see the film.

“Within two weeks I had quit my job at the bank and started working with animal rights groups in Oxford.”

During the screening of the The Animals Film, which depicts animal testing and cruelty to animals in farming and other fields, Mr Phillips met Tony Pattinson, the cameraman and editor of his film Lion Ark.

“Everything changed on that night at the cinema,” Mr Phillips said.

After leaving his job at NatWest, Mr Phillips bought a camera and started documenting animal cruelty across Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:

  • He is helped by his wife Jan Creamer 

He said: “The first pictures that got national coverage were of a fox farm near Chipping Norton.

“Shortly after that fox farms were banned.”

During his time in Oxford, Mr Phillips established Oxford Animal Rights in 1982, and the campaigning magazine Turning Point in 1985.

He added: “I worked a lot with Oxford students, campaigning the University and against two fur traders that were in Oxford – they have now shut.

“I think the people of Oxford were always receptive to our message.

“I hope that my film will inspire people like The Animals Film inspired me.”

The film Lion Ark documents the struggle of Animal Defenders International (ADI) in their bid to rescue 25 lions from eight illegal circuses across Bolivia, successfully airlifting them to the USA.

Mr Phillips co-founded the group ADI with wife Jan Creamer, the producer of the film.

The 53-year-old director said that the most surprising response to the film was in Bolivia.

Oxford Mail:

  • Jan Creamer, actress Jorja Fox and Tim Phillips

“We produced a Spanish-language version of the film and the reception has been incredible.

“We had several ministers come to viewings, and they now want the film to be screened in schools.”

The film has already been screened in Glasgow, Cardiff and London and Mr Phillips says that crowds have been incredibly receptive.

  • Lion Ark will be screened at the Ultimate Picture Palace on Tuesday, November 25, at 6.30pm, followed by a Q&A session with Tim Phillips


  • Lion Ark is Tim Phillips’ first feature film after campaigning on animal protection issues for 30 years. 
  • His videos and photos have exposed animal suffering and he has worked as a scriptwriter, director and editor. 
  • Mr Phillips has received awards for his animal protection documentaries, adverts and training videos and has also helped to draft animal protection legislation. 
  • The film has been a hit with the critics. “Lion Ark proceeds with refreshing unpredictability,” said The New York Times, while Reel Talk said: “Lion Ark is the feel-good movie of the year!” 


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