Virunga : A Documentary by Orlando von Einsiedel

                                  Virunga – Official Trailer 2014 from Grain Media on Vimeo

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Baby gorilla with caretaker

Virunga, a documentary made on the Virunga National Park in Congo defines the beautiful relationship between humans and gorillas. The Park is the only surviving natural habitat to around 800 mountain gorillas. These beautiful beasts have become victims of hunting and poaching and many are mercilessly killed each year. Their children are often left orphaned and have to fend for themselves in this world. However, the Virunga National Park houses a Gorilla orphanage within its boundaries. The caretakers of this orphanage consider the animals to be their family; and come what may stands beside them through thick or thin. They act as parents to the gorillas, so that they do not feel lonely or abandoned in this world.However, due to the recent discovery of oil in Lake Edward, the boundaries of this park are being threatened. This would mean that the gorillas and all other wild animals that peacefully live in this park would be prone to environmental hazards and other illegal activities like poaching.

Furthermore, the M23 rebels are threatening Congo into a revolution. Though this would not directly affect the park, but one never knows the mindset of rebels and thus the park authorities secretly prepare for defence. This would also mean panic, havoc and mass evacuation of the people in the nearby cities. The aggressiveness of this political situation was beautifully investigated by a freelance undercover and investigative journalist.

Interestingly, the documentary was to be made to promote tourism in Congo. Gorilla Tourism is one of the most important methods of earning revenue in this region. But the political outbreaks in the city could not be ignored as well and thus, the documentary went on to cover politics and environment both. In fact, the director suitably blends both the circumstances to highlight how political unrests affect wildlife and its disastrous consequences on nature and mankind.

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A Still from the movie

I would personally recommend everyone to watch the movie. Its cinematography enthralled me for the entire duration of the movie (100 minutes). The beautifully captured landscape of the Virunga National Park embeds itself in our minds as a never-to-be-forgotten photograph. The rangers, who play the most important part in protecting the park, lead a life, not less than the army. Their lives are threatened all the time to be killed by political groups or poacher groups. Above all, the gorillas themselves win over the audience with their large expressive black eyes and their helplessness towards the cruelty of mankind.

On the other hand, being a journalism student, the tactics of the investigative journalist was of special interest to me. However brave the journalist was, as an audience one still felt sceptical of her ways and feared for her life and safety. To be honest, it is not easy being an undercover journalist and certainly not in an area torn apart by political unrest.

Virunga has received innumerable nominations at prestigious awards including the Academy Awards and the BAFTA. It is also the recipient of the Peabody Award and the feature documentary Award at the DOXA among many others.

Virunga_National_Park_GorillaThis documentary is an eye opener to the greed of mankind. This greed knows no bounds. It has lost the rationale of right and wrong. Man does not think twice before harming nature; the very planet they live in. Virunga is a documentary of only one national Park, but there are innumerable national parks and wildlife sanctuaries spread across the world who are experiencing the same fate. It is a call for mankind to realise their mistakes and take a step back. For if the world is not protected now, there might not be a world left in the future.

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