An intrepid park ranger and his team protect an endangered population of mountain gorillas in the Congo from poachers, rebel militia and British oil exploration company SOCO International.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Rangers at the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo have long risked their lives to protect the park’s rare mountain gorillas from poachers. Now they face a new, multi-pronged peril: following the discovery of oil at the World Heritage Site in 2010 the Congolese government has authorised exploration by London-based SOCO. The decision is being protested against by the World Wildlife Fund, and prompted UNESCO to list the park as ‘in danger’. British director Orlando von Einsiedel’s startling film should prove an effective instrument in their campaigns, not least by exposing the dangerous game being played by the opposition. Contextualising their tactics within the long history of colonialist destabilisation in the Congo, he draws on hidden-camera evidence to attest to SOCO’s furtive promotion of a rebel advance on the park. Meanwhile, Belgian park director, Emmanuel de Merode, French journalist Melanie Gouby and chief gorilla keeper Andre Baume circle the wagons as the violence closes in. “An exhilarating balance of politics, ecology, market forces and utter corruption... Virunga is first-rate, both in its gimlet-eyed storytelling and visual elegance.” — John Anderson, Indiewire
Proudly Sponsored by Māori Television