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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

VIRUNGA

by D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Selection

In a searing and startling documentary, director Orlando von Einsiedel gives us a narrative that exposes corruption, violence and a complicated web of intrigue and bribery.

Set in the lush and extremely beautiful protected Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we see the habitat for many of the world's the last mountain gorillas.  The country, perhaps the region's best hope for economic stability, has a long and bloody history which was weakened by the discovery of oil beneath Lake Edward and the arrival of the British petroleum company SOCO International.

The film was originally planned as a do cumentary on the dangers faced by the Park's 400 rangers.  However, when oil was discovered and a powerful rebel group sought a percentage of the oil profits, the film morphed into a film on the war between conservation and exploitation.

With a literal war raging, the director resorted to hidden cameras and assistance from French journalist Melanie Gouby to capture scenes of rebel tanks and secret bribery payoffs, which he then intersperses with views of the lush park and wildlife.  And, among the participants in the raging war are the heroes among the rangers who stand out for their dedication to the point of willingness to die to protect their charges, and the individuals seeking to uncover and expose illegal oil company activities..