NEWF: Peter’s Takeaways from an Excellent Week in Durban

The 2nd addition of the Nature, Environment & Wildlife Film Congress was definitely a peak experience among the scores of conferences that I have attended over five decades.

Africa!

In Durban, we felt Africa’s resurgence. Big time.

  • Amazing, youthful talent.
  • Exciting projects.
  • Eagerness to learn from industry veterans including Off The Fence, Earth Touch, Scorpion TV, Wild Bear and others.
  • The Africans shared ideas across multiple cultures and disciplines.
    • This spirit took me back to the ‘Seventies when Australians tossed away decades of our “Cringe” before British and American cultures.
    • Or to New York in 1980 as the “Indie Film” movement went “Off-Hollywood”.
  • SABC is back: Thando Shozi-Malanga was a force throughout the event.
  • NFVF led by Acting CEO Shadrack Bokaba, KZN Film Commission and other local buyers and funders were an engaging presence.

Mandela

  • Mandela’s 100th birthday was celebrated as NEWF opened.
  • His fearlessness inspires us to overcome even our most brutal personal and collective histories.

Science Meets Filmmaking

  • It was one of the highest-rated panels when four scientists shared their challenges and progress.
  • From left, Phindile Xulu, Tembisa Jordaan, Samukelisiwe Mnguni, Luwi Nguluka with moderator Yolanda Mogatusi.

Poaching & Extinctions

  • WildTrust is South Africa’s largest conservation organization and a lead sponsor of NEWF.
  • CEO Andrew Venter and Paula Kahumbu, CEO of Kenya’s Wildlife Direct sparked days of intense conversation about anti-poaching strategies.
  • Dr Venter later led several guests to witness an unforgettable rhino de-horning operation.
  • NEWF highlighted the energy, intellect and organization required to reverse our era of extinctions.

Anesthetized Rhino calf preparing to be painlessly de-horned,
Somkhanda Game Reserve, KZN. Hosts: Wildlands Trust  

Expose the Buyers!

  • There are two sides to the illegal trade in animal parts that kills rhinos and other creatures:
    • Supply Side
      African poachers, middlemen and corrupt officials.
    • Buy Side
      Chinese and Vietnamese dealers in rhino horn and other products, their consumers, and the governments that protect this giant market.
  • Kenya-based documentary producer Karl Ammann has invested years on his compelling investigation of the Buyers.
  • He is determined to expose how China hosts and tolerates this disgusting trade.
  • In his panel with South Africa’s award-winning investigative journalist Julie Laurenz, Ammann argued that Beijing can be shamed by a Western campaign into suppressing the trade.
  • I am in 100% agreement.
    • We need to continue to make great films about anti-poaching and conservation measures,
    • AND balance that effort by relentlessly exposing the Chinese ruling party’s culture of tolerance of the trade.
  • I’ll be sharing much more about exposing the BUY Side in future posts. Contact me if you have ideas.

N.E.W. Pitch Finalists

  • Yolanda Mogatusi led a terrific all-day strategic workshop for the finalists in the N.E.W. Pitch Competition.
  • That’s Yolanda in the white sweater to my right. And on my left, our fellow pitch coach, Nat Geo Society‘s story-teller Dustin Renwick.
  • Finalists were: Londiwe Shange from KZN with “Toxic Relations” about life in the South Durban basin; Myles Arendse from Western Cape with “The Eco Brick” which will help us re-evaluate our relationship with trash; Jessica Singh from KZN with “Epic Encounters” looking at saving Africa’s deadliest snakes; Liana Hassim from KZN with “Vida” a homeless woman representing Mother Earth and the challenges she faces; Surprise Matlaila from Limpopo with “Silent Victims” looking at the poaching of African vultures; Tessa Barlin from Western Cape with “Becoming One” a story about Lucky Mahlatsi Rapitsi who empowers rural children through nature and wildlife photography; Emily Cross from KZN with “Part of the Pack” about the African Wild Dog; Tumo Maokisa from Botswana with “When We Worked Away” about sustainable organic farming; and Brian Khawula from KZN with“Umelusi” about lessons learned from a rural cattle herder.

N.E.W. Pitch winners, judges and NEWF founders.   

Funders

  • Funders of NEWF2 were led by NFVF, with KZN Dept of Economic Development& Tourism and Environment Affairs (EDTEA), the Ethekweni Municipality and North West Parks Board.

Thanks!

  • That’s Noel Kok and his partner Pragna Parsotam-Kok, founders of the runaway hit NEWF: Nature, Environment & Wildlife Film Congress. 
  • Many thanks for inviting me to join the band.

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