Kathryn Bigelow’s latest project, before her full-length move Detroit bows this August, is a VR short for National Geographic titled The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes. It’s the first project of this type for the award-winning director and to promote a conversation about the film’s subject matter she appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival for a screening of the film, during which the audience got to experience it in virtual reality along with the panelists.
The Protectors is a project “filmed deep in the Congo and shot in virtual reality to immerse viewers in the dangerous reality of those who risk their lives to protect elephants from poachers slaughtering the animals for their ivory tusks,” thereby working not only to prove how important it is to protect elephants but also to show how hard people work to save populations in Africa.
During the panel, Bigelow, who has recently focused on stories of war and unrest, said of the film that she “realized that there was an intersection between poaching and terrorism” but that rather than just putting the film together and leaving it at that she considered how to “activate the audience” and “engage the viewer with a call to action.” Seeing as poachers kill 30,000 elephants or more each year, the call to action piece of this project is more important than ever and based on the surprise panel guest, Bigelow isn’t the only high-profile woman who knows how important stopping poaching is.
Hillary Clinton, who has been filling her schedule with speaking opportunities again after some time away from the public eye, also joined the discussion. The politician spoke about the importance of making sure people know that they can make a difference but that “as critical as this problem is, there have been a lot of good effort made at a local, regional, national and now international level to try to address it.” That doesn’t mean it’s any closer to being completely solved, and this film will make it clear that it’s more crucial than ever that efforts to protect elephant populations stay vigilant and supported.