2014, Movies

Virunga (2014, Orlando von Einsiedel)

This is an important film that is only slightly marred by it’s clunky approach but is nevertheless essential viewing and an important document, not just of one of the innumerable conflicts between conservation and natural resource development, but also of the bravery required to to do the “right thing” in the face of overwhelming pressure to the contrary.

The film’s attempts at semi-dramatizing the past are very, very clunky as is their use of the fake picture-taking graphic and noise which, at times, is so annoying you want to skip to the next scene. But, these are minor quibbles.

The impressive thing, the thing that makes this a great documentary, not just a good one, is the willingness of some of the people fighting for conservation to put themselves at risk by secretly filming those that are either openly or semi-secretly trying to undermine the park. (This footage includes actual bribes on camera, which is a rather rare thing.)
Yes, this is a film that takes sides, but so what? Yes, it’s a little myopic. Yes, one can raise questions about why two of the “heroes” of the film are non-African white people. But here we have a small group of people doing their best to try to take the long-term view, to make better decisions, in the face of overwhelming odds and and with virtually no support. And it’s real and it’s on tape.

9/10

  • Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel
  • Produced by Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
  • Written by Orlando von Einsiedel
  • Music by Patrick Jonsson
  • Cinematography by Franklin Dow
  • Edited by Katie Bryer, Masahiro Hirakubo, Miikka Leskinen, Peta Ridley
  • Production companies: Violet Films, Grain Media
  • Distributed by Netflix
  • Release date: 17 April 2014
  • Running time: 100 minutes
  • Countries: United Kingdom, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Languages: English, French
  • Cast:
    • André Bauma,
    • Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo,
    • Emmanuel de Merode,
    • Mélanie Gouby.

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