We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
When dealing with tigers it’s expected that they will be at the forefront of any film. We wanted to do something different. We wanted to show the personal story of those people who are at the forefront of protecting this magnificent species. They are often the forgotten heroes. They do their work out of passion and commitment.
In the case of Singye, we found one of only 2 female rangers in Bhutan who was leading a group of 30 men in the forests of Royal Manus National Park. She regularly leaves her home and family to spend weeks in the park – facing threats from not only poachers but also heavily armed militants. She had the obvious respect of her whole team. She was at once kind and generous but as tough as nails if she needed to be. Her passion for tigers even though she has never actually seen one in the wild before.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
The film was released to coincide with WWF’s network push to raise awareness of the plight of tigers across the 13 different tiger range states. WWF aims to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022. We hope to see this film having impact in a number of ways – it should act as a tool for WWF to push home the message to governments that tigers need greater protection from the numerous threats they face. It also has the parallel purpose of demonstrating the dedication of those individuals whose job it is to protect tigers. We hope that by showing this passion and commitment more people will be inspired to put pressure on their policy makers at home to ramp up tiger conservation.
the park, the challenges of actually filming sequences became apparent as movement through the park involved daily treks through the forest accompanied by armed guards at all times – not only from the threat of poachers and militants but also of course, from tigers. On one infamous occasion we also found out we had accidentally crossed over into India and were confronted by an elite unit of the Indian army – quite a surprise on both sides!
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on big cats?
Big cats are by their vary nature exotic and beautiful but this has also meant they are incredibly vulnerable in today’s modern world. Habitat destruction and encroachment, alongside the threat of poaching has driven big cats, especially the tiger, to the brink. Mega fauna like tigers are not only impressive species in themselves but also emblematic of the wdier state of nature – if they are under threat, then often their environment and other species that live there are also under threat.
By focusing on big cats and the rangers that protect them we hoped to shine a brighter light on the issues surrounding tigers and increase pressure on policy makers to ensure that they get the protection they deserve.