Anyone with an interest or passion for the environment and wildlife should watch this movie. It tells the story of a group of people who are fighting hard to defend the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo.
Renowned as Africa’s oldest national park, the Virunga sits at an area that is marred with conflicts! This park was founded in 1925 by King Albert I of Belgium when the Democratic Republic of Congo was still under colonial rule. Since its inception, the park has been through a number of setbacks and some very challenging times. The area has been filled with civil conflicts, poachers who kill wild animals and now the companies that want to drill oil from the park.
There are stories of hard-working and brave rangers who have tried to protect it for centuries. Sadly, over 150 rangers have been killed in the last 15 years trying to defend their park.
Virunga National Park is home to the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas, which have been targeted by poachers and threats to their environment. The Nyiragongo Mountains, as well as the Ruwenzori Mountains, are protected within this area. Many tourists travel to the Virunga to embark on gorilla safaris in Eastern Congo. A gorilla permit sells at US$400 during the peak season and US$200 during the low season.
The film was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, and movie star Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the film’s producers.
DiCaprio said of the film: “Films like Virunga are powerful stories that are a window into the incredible cultural and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it and the people who are fighting to protect it.”
The Virunga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth. One of the key points that the film touches on is the companies (mainly SOCO) that want to use the park for its rich natural resources, at any cost. It’s a fascinating insight into both the good and the bad that humans are capable of. You have the park rangers putting their lives on the line to protect the park, and businessmen exploiting it for financial gain.
The Virunga Movie documentary has won many awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography and the Peabody Award. The film has also been nominated for BAFTA and Academy awards. Not only does this film focus on a great cause, but it’s also extremely well shot and very tense viewing. Little wonder it has received fantastic feedback from critics. The LA Times describes it as an “Urgent investigative report and unforgettable drama, “Virunga” is a work of heart-wrenching tenderness and heart-stopping suspense.” After watching the film you will no doubt want to help the park in some way.
The film really does encourage people to act and to feel passionate about the cause. It has inspired great change and raised awareness of the atrocities going on in this area. The world has taken notice and some things have improved, but the park still needs more help.
Following the pressure from the movie, SOCO International, the oil company exposed in the film, came to an agreement with the World Wildlife Fund. Jane Goodhall, a UN Messenger of Peace, described the film as “a wake-up call.”
Everyone who cares about the future of the planet must see this movie,” she said.