South Africa’s groundbreaking Rhino film, STROOP, beats out the US and European contenders to take top prize at leading Wildlife Film Festival.
Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s groundbreaking film, “STROOP – journey into the rhino horn war” has taken one of the world’s top wildlife prizes, “Best of Festival” at the International Wildlife Film Festival in the United States over the weekend. The local film was up against big budget blue chip films from the likes of National Geographic, the BBC, PBS and Netflix that usually dominate the nature filmmaking landscape, so it was a surprise win for the local filmmakers.
“STROOP’s reception worldwide continues to amaze us! We had hoped the international community would take notice of our heartbreaking rhino issue here in South Africa, but they’ve reacted hugely to the film, and this is now our 17th win since the release just a few months ago!” says a delighted Bonné de Bod, one of the filmmakers of STROOP.
Susan Scott, director of the film adds, “the IWFF is known for looking at all aspects of wildlife filmmaking, and we actually thought STROOP might stand a chance to get selected last year… in fact, we wanted to World Premiere there and were aiming for it in our edit, but we just could not get STROOP finished in time! So it’s surreal for us that the film is being honoured this year by the prestigious festival that we were just hoping to get selected for! Incredible achievement for the film and once again this puts our rhinos firmly into the international spotlight.”
The theme at this year’s International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana, USA was ‘adaptation’.
The focus was set on humans and animals struggling to adapt to a changing climate as well as filmmakers who spend years on a story and find new ways to reach audiences.
“The trend of embracing the responsibility of showing those kinds of stories is pretty real,” said festival director, Carrie Richer who went on to add, “it’s the longest standing wildlife film festival in the country, and it celebrates wildlife… the environment and people’s relationship to wildlife through film.”
Over 300 films were submitted from all over the world of which 70 films were selected for 36 countries this year, and South Africa’s STROOP was ultimately selected the ‘Best of Festival’. The film also won the ‘Best Independent or Feature Film’ category.
The International Wildlife Film Festival is attended by over 12,000 people and involves top wildlife filmmakers, producers, scientists and conservation leaders. The week-long festival is a juried event that recognises scientific accuracy, artistic appeal and technical excellence of films submitted from around the world.
Past IWFF ‘Best of Festival’ winner “Chasing Coral”, went on to be shortlisted for an Academy Award after its win here in 2017.
Judges from the International Wildlife Film Festival stated after the double win that, “even if you think you already understand the rhino poaching crisis, STROOP must be seen. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. The access is unprecedented. The filmmakers are endearing and courageous. It will stay with you long after you finish watching.”
STROOP was an independent undertaking by the two South Africans who self-funded and crowdfunded through the public and later received post-production grants to help them finish the film. Upon world premiering at the San Francisco Green Film Festival last September, the film has been officially selected for nearly 25 film festivals and has been picked up by the international distribution firm, Journeyman Pictures based out of London. These two awards at the IWFF are the films’ sixteenth and seventeenth respectively.
Winning 17 awards and officially selected for nearly 25 film festivals, this acclaimed film takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride between Africa and Asia. These first-time filmmakers embed themselves on the front-lines of the rhino poaching crisis where they are given exclusive access to the war unfolding. Carving out six months for the project, the two women quickly find themselves immersed in a world far larger and more dangerous than they had imagined, only emerging from their odyssey four years later.
The filmmakers are also in talks with local broadcasters and hope to have the film on South African television soon.