We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
We had been researching possible story ideas and wildlife related issues for a couple of years in the Ladakh region. We were also placing camera traps trying to get evidence of some of the Top predators in the Himalayas, primarily Brown Bears, Wolves, Lynx and the Snow Leopard. In a landscape that has almost no natural borders and little to no cover for wildlife to move through it was especially intriguing when we found that the wolves and snow leopards had adapted to humans and were comfortable being around villages. The shy reclusive persona of a snow leopard didn't seem too true anymore. Being in Ladakh one quickly realises how fragile the mountains are and how difficult surviving them can be. Casual conversations with the locals would often lead to stories of how the climate has changed and how it doesn’t even snow some years. This was the trigger… a Snow Leopard with no Snow. We dove in deeper and found there were multiple issues that threaten this region and it’s wildlife.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
An amazing experience was to spend a night in a hide waiting to film a snow leopard with her cubs on a kill. At some point before dawn a pack of wolves came down, ran past the hide and fought the snow leopard off her kill. From an almost complete silence with only the sounds of snapping bones to a flurry of of angry Growls, snarling and snapping.. and then all quite again. This was the first time we had witnessed any interaction between snow leopards and wolves but unfortunately with no IR gear on location we couldn’t film it. Meeting with many villagers who feared wolves and snow leopards less and packs of Feral dogs more was both surprising and extremely worrying at the same time. Feral dogs remain a huge and largely unaddressed problem in India. The seriousness of this issue can’t be overstated and right now there don’t seem to be any solutions offered. Filming India's highest landfill was a shock. We expected it to be awful but the we were completely unprepared for the scale of the problem. Seeing disposable plastic water bottles also held a mirror to our own faces.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
We hope this film triggers some action in managing the Feral dog situation across India. There are reports of dogs killing wildlife everyday and little is being done about it. No management of garbage is another issue which is again not being dealt with across the Mountain states of India. Lack of infrastructure and political will has led to some of the highest landfills in the world. We hope the film shocks the people in power into action and really start making some hard decisions and fixing something which we shouldn’t have broken in the first place. It would be amazing if the films start conversation on these issues and actually translate them into action. It would be amazing if manufacturers of products with disposable packaging like water, aerated drinks etc stood up and took responsibility in fixing this.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on big cats?
Big Cats are a real symbol of the landscapes they live in. If a Big Cat chooses to live in a forest or on a particular mountain it reassures us that most things are right and as they should be there. We also felt that an environmental / conservation story told with the cat at the centre would hold the audiences attention and help paint the big picture.
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