The film has attracted star power, with actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio signing on as executive producer. The film was shot by a very brave group of people in what is a dangerous area. The same is true of exploiting the minerals in the park. Ex-Child Soldier Wins Goldman Environmental Prize For Protecting Virunga Park And Its Gorillas : Goats and Soda Rodrigue Katembo has quite a resume: child soldier, park ranger, undercover … War breaks out frequently, violence is commonplace, corruption is rampant. Along with journalist Melanie Gouby, von Einsiedel's Virunga goes undercover to reveal the negligent motives of British oil company SOCO International. Many people live in extreme poverty, so poaching wild animals is not merely a good business deal, it may be the difference between starving and surviving. This Ex-Child Soldier Went Undercover To Save The Gorillas . | They are my life." The disasters that specifically loom are two different groups, the M23 and SOCO International. By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel did not expect a civil war to break out when he arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 to profile Virunga National Park's plans for tourism and economic development. It is the first national park ever established on the continent of Africa, and it was designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations in 1979. Often, films nominated for the Best Full-Length Documentary Oscar are exceptionally brave films where the filmmakers went to insane lengths to tell important stories. Perhaps even more serious, many people have an economic incentive to plunder the national parks. Wow. I saw this movie at the Docville festival in Leuven, Belgium. External Reviews I wept during the film out of frustration but also out of an enormous respect for the film makers, rangers and everyone involved. This salient ant-war, anti-business exploration, pro-conservation documentary touched me and made me feel something special. Local park warden Rodrigue Mugaruka also goes undercover to expose corruption, and park ranger Andre Bauma takes care of orphaned mountain gorillas. London-based SOCO International sent a team to DRC to convince locals that oil exploration would help the economy. I assumed that being nominated for an Oscar would mean that it would be a compelling and absorbing documentary offering something new. By Craig Hatkoff . Virunga is about a park in the Congo, but the situation is similar in many African countries. “Rarely do you see the whole lay of the land so clearly laid out, and so directly played out,” Ruffalo said. I had postponed watching this documentary several times until I finally took the time to sit down and give it a go. It seems hardly surprising in the case of M23, as they are a paramilitary organisation who can hardly be expected to be concerned with such things but it is the more legitimate big business SOCO who seem more worrying if anything. Recommended 100% one of the best documentaries! Soco International News Headlines. I lived in DRC for five years, but mainly stuck to Kinshasa. As a documentary, Virunga is interesting, eye-opening and concerning but not necessarily novel nor especially comprehensive. It is the home to a plethora of wonderful animals and vegetation but as is so often the way, it has several serious problems that threaten it. “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo, who actively campaigns against hydraulic fracking and is vocal on water and conservation issues, has also put his weight behind the film. A group of brave individuals risk their lives to save the last of the world's mountain gorillas; in the midst of renewed civil war and a scramble for Congo's natural resources. When hostilities broke out between government forces and the M23 rebel group and a British mining company entered the park to drill for oil, Einsiedel broadened the scope of his documentary, transforming it into a feature-like, suspenseful thriller. "In Virunga National Park, we had that process playing out on a micro level." “There’s a famous phrase in Congo, that it’s the world’s richest country with the poorest people, with foreign forces taking stuff and the result being bad for Congolese people,” von Einsiedel said. All of its excitement feels so perfectly timed and formed that it comes off as orchestrated. One of the most incredible moving important documentaries I've ever seen, if you have Netflix and haven't watched this, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? The film also follows French journalist Melanie Gouby, who goes undercover to record SOCO employees speaking of the company’s intentions. An upsetting and exciting documentary with marked contrasts, What I thought this would be vs an uncomfortable and tense journey through age old human greed story, Beautiful and brave film spoilt by historical inaccuracies, The sadly never ending story of corporate greed and destruction, Difficult to watch but absolutely fascinating. SOCO released a statement included in the film denying much of what was shown. This year, one such brave nominated documentary is "Virunga"--and once again, the folks who made this movie could have easily gotten killed to bring us this important story. Both M23 and SOCO invade the park in their own ways and neither seems very interested in the laws that have been set up to protect the flora and fauna that exist there, far less the people who live there. “I saw the story as a metaphor for the rebirth of the entire region,” he said. stuff usually goes. Explore VIRUNGA COFFEE LAUNCHES! the film states that other countries in Africa were run by European Governments, but that Congo was the only one run by companies. Extremely well made Netflix documentary, very instructive and of course offers a lot of beautiful scenery. And it also makes it indisputable that what they are doing is right for such a beautiful park. - André Bauma, Virunga National Park. Virunga is a feat in filmmaking because it works spectacularly on various levels. Check out Red-Barracuda's 8/10 review of "Virunga" Oscars Best Picture Winners Best Picture Winners Golden Globes Emmys STARmeter Awards San Diego Comic-Con New York Comic-Con Sundance Film Festival Toronto Int'l Film Festival Awards Central Festival Central All Events But at 14, he was forced i “We’re seeing this uptick in the severity of the storms, severity of droughts, severity of the temperature rising, so now it’s become tangible, it’s affecting people’s lives,” he said. ... 'Virunga' Director Orlando von Einsiedel on Why 'Avatar' Was a Huge Inspiration ... about undercover work. It's a very murky situation where big money walks all over an impoverished nation and disregards a natural space that they can see no value in in their pursuit of financial profit. "Consider this: Only 880 Mountain Gorillas Remain in the World.". Awards An immensely moving and thought provoking documentary about a subject that I would understand not many know about, Oscar nominated, Leonardo DiCaprio produced Virunga is a must see film for not only fans of documentary films but the general public and is an incredible examination of the human spirit and those dedicated to making the world a better place. To do so they are fearlessly defying the greed driven manipulations of certain western corporates seeking enrichment by trying to control other people's resources. It starts off great, really passionate and gripping about the injustices in its titular location. This is also not true. We watch some films for entertainment. To its credit, it is beautifully shot, though it often feels like an extract of Planet Earth rather than having its own identity. But that's exactly what happened Didn't take much long for them to introduce not one but two super villains - M23 and SOCO. I loved this documentary. King Leopold convinced the other European Powers to grant him the Congo which he would 'run for the benefit of its people'. Starting with an introduction to the history of turmoils in Congo this documentary tells the dramatic story of those who are trying to exploit and suck out everything from the country focusing on the Virunga National Park. Last year, one film was made in the midst of a revolution and the filmmakers could have easily been killed filming the democracy movement. Editing by Eric Kelsey and David Gregorio. The Long Afterlife Of Our Work In Virunga. This a film festival with just documentaries. On its website, the company says it is no longer operating in DRC and never intended to drill in the protected mountain gorilla habitat. Its pretty intense and left me with goosebumps almost crying while watching it. With this scene, Virunga is transformed into an adventure and even a combat zone story, even as it also becomes an undercover investigation into … Netflix seems to be reliably getting their documentaries nominated for Oscars as of late, and with its intriguing topic Virunga looked like a film with a lot of potential. This movie is gorgeously shot and wonderfully paced. Then it moves onto something else, then something else, and more, and it keeps going until the connection between all these things feel all the more tenuous. | Its a very cinematic documentary with breathtakingly beautiful scenery of nature and wildlife combined with scenes of brutal violence and sadness. I've had the chance to speak with Orlando von Einsiedel afterwards and it's one of the conversations that will stay with me forever. It effortlessly brings us in and causes us to care for the workers of this national park and their deep mission to preserve it at all costs. I started to watch this thinking it's the heroes, park rangers vs the villains, poachers. A huge number of species live here, including the last mountain gorillas, but the preservation of nature in this area isn’t a priority for everyone. But Belgium’s Prince Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park, is adamant that mining for oil will destroy the region’s rich nature and wildlife, and corruption would prevent locals from sharing in the profits. FAQ Courtesy Goldman International Prize. But we sort of persevered, and it took a long time. Rodrigue Katembo has quite a resume: child soldier, park ranger, undercover agent, friend of gorillas and elephants, and now Goldman Environmental Prize winner. By editor ... A mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park. In fact he ran it entirely for his own financial benefit and this probably resulted in the death of 10 million Congolese (see 'King Leopold's Ghost' by Adam Hochschild). the rangers) even give their lives to protect this. “Within a week, it was a full-on civil war. Rodrigue Katembo has quite a resume: child soldier, park ranger, undercover agent, friend of gorillas and elephants. Virunga is a well intentioned documentary that will hopefully garner attention for the clashes occurring in the Congo. Another film featured the filmmakers confronting folks who'd committed genocide decades ago and actually got them to talk about their hideous crimes. No, stop watching that other show (again! What amazing lengths the filmmakers went to bring us this story. The son of Protestant farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rodrigue Katembo dreamed of one day becoming a pastor. We watch some films for the emotional effect. A dramatic and compelling documentary about a national park, the pursuit of oil, civil war and the last wild mountain gorillas, Beautiful and hard-hitting documentary about the battle to save Africa's oldest National Park, Great Documentary highlighting an important cause, Pro-conservation park rangers battle an oil company and warring political factions in this excellent, disturbing documentary. Virunga does a good job of showing the grave difficulties facing conservationists in Africa. They do not care about the cost in human lives, human development, or the destruction of other species like the mountain gorillas. This is not correct. | It is a documentary that everyone should see. It's one of those movies that should be compulsory at school education, ... and a movie everyone should have in their collection! Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Orlando von Einsiedel - 2014 - The vast Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is internationally renowned for its biodiversity. Patrice Lumumba made himself unpopular with the Belgian Govt with his speech at the Independence ceremony. British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel did not expect a civil war to break out when he arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 to profile Virunga National Park's plans for … The pictures of the Park are beautiful and the those of the gorillas are captivating. But that’s exactly what happened as he filmed his first feature-length documentary. We discover in fact that they have been involved in a bribery campaign, utilising M23 as enforcers. Virunga lays out all that in an unflinching way. I had to choose between several movies and I'll never going to regret one second the choice I've made. And then I learned about the park’s very serious concerns about this illegal oil exploration, so the story U-turned really quickly.”. Created with Sketch. And now, he is a Goldman Environmental Prize winner. Gouby and Katembo’s undercover efforts to capture behind-the-scenes chicanery suddenly give Virunga the immediacy of an All the President’s Men-style investigative procedural, complete with jaw-dropping hidden-camera footage of officials being bribed and contempt for the Congolese masses being expressed by SOCO employees. About undercover work its a very cinematic documentary with breathtakingly beautiful scenery released a included. Do not care about the cost in human lives, human development, or destruction. Our resources but even more importantly how other people ( e.g needed more time in park. For future generations, stop watching that other show ( again the National parks denying much what... 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