The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated two conservation-themed films for Oscars.
Oscar Nomination for Documentary Feature: Virunga
Oscar von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, Grain Media
Von Einsiedel and Natasegara are the producers behind Virunga. The powerful Netflix documentary chronicles the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the community’s battle with the British oil corporation determined to access its illegal explorative concessions. The park is Africa’s oldest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and “a home to thousands of people and the last mountain gorillas.” To its protectors, it is more; Virunga’s rangers have dedicated their lives to protect the park, and they take salvation in their mission. They cannot allow its exploitation.
Through intimate, surreal cinematography, von Einsiedel witnesses a clash of greed and virtue, of love and ignorance. Virunga’s warriors brave undercover surveillance to expose army officials and security contractors of blatant corruption, providing condemnable visual evidence of a corporation acting in vigorous disregard for the park’s people and wildlife. Von Einsiedel runs alongside the people of Goma as they flee a rebel militia, he stands with Virunga’s rangers as they hold their ground, and suffers with the park’s orphaned gorillas through the thunder of warfare.
“You have to justify why you are here on this earth. Gorillas are why I am here. Gorillas are my life. So if it is about dying, then I will die for the gorillas.” – André Bauma, Gorilla Caretaker
Winner of 23 international awards, subject of over 300 articles including a cover story on The New York Times, Virunga has focused global attention to the park, contributing (with WWF UK) to the British company SOCO to publicly declare they would not drill in the Virunga National Park.
Oscar Nomination for Documentary Short Subject: White Earth
Trains, trucks and men have flooded White Earth, North Dakota. They’re there to get the natural gas out of the frozen ground. Some have brought their families with them. They live in campers with wooden sheds. The men go to work, and the rest adjust to life in White Earth.
Christian Jenson made White Earth as part of his M.F.A. in Film and Video at Stanford University. It’s an eloquent deliberation of small town America, the tides of fortune, and whether or not its better to leave the “stinky oil” in the ground, as pondered by a lonely boy who must entertain himself with the neighborhood dogs, a “native” who wonders how her White Earth will change, and an immigrant family weary of chasing stability. White Earth offers new insights into the life on the ground of a national debate.
Filmmakers for Conservation congratulates Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara of Grain Media and J. Christian Jenson for their Oscar nominations!
Stay connected for a Q&A with Joanna Natasegara about her role as Virunga’s Impact Producer