“Virunga” is a powerful film about a high stakes battle in Africa over Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site threatened by oil speculators, violent poachers and armed militia. The world premiere was held at Chelsea Bow Tie Cinemas in New York City Thursday evening during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
Among those attending were filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, executive producer Howard G. Buffett, producer Joanna Natasegara, and actor/environmentalist Mark Ruffalo.
The film documents the ongoing battle to preserve the park and the lives it supports. As with all environmental issues, the fight is to save valuable natural resources and habitat which, if destroyed, can never be replaced. It’s a battle of life and death.
The Virunga crisis is symbolized by its most vulnerable inhabitants – the last of the mountain gorilla population. Their protector is park director Emmanuel de Merode, a Belgian royal, who leads a team of Congolese rangers against the growing forces attempting to control the park and its assets.
Tragically, de Merode was unable to attend the screening as he is hospitalized, in serious condition, after being shot Tuesday while touring the park. The attack on de Merode was intentional.
Additional screenings of “Virunga” during the Tribeca Film Festival offer audiences awareness of the heated struggle and indirectly solicit support for the cause through charitable organizations, most notably the World Wildlife Fund.
Hot on the festival circuit, “Virunga” screens next in Toronto during the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
The Tribeca Film Festival continues until April 27.
See you at the movies.