February 19, 2011

Notes From BIFF 2011: The Last Lions. ~ René Cousineau

The stars of Dereck and Beverly Joubert’s The Last Lions

“Lions are emblematic of what is happening to wild nature all over the world—wild nature is crashing.”

~ Vance Martin of the Wild Foundation

It is predicted that lions will be extinct in the wild within 20 years. Their population has declined 96% in the last 50 years, and they have no protection under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species. I didn’t know this before today. I’m starting to feel like I didn’t know a lot of things before attending this festival.

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t entirely enthused about going to this film today. It’s not that I don’t care about wildlife, or that I even know anything about the state of the Wild Kingdom in this day and age. I won’t claim to be a better and more informed person than I really am. Simply put, nature documentaries are not my cup of tea, unless it involves a lot of baby animals sneezing (which this film has but… it isn’t the central angle).

So, again, I wasn’t jazzed. And for a good portion of the film, probably throughout the whole middle section, I still wasn’t jazzed. And that isn’t to say you won’t be jazzed if you see it. Some people know how to love and appreciate this medium more than I ever will, but it’s just a tough sell for me.

Or it was at least, until the film reached it’s amazing climax and I finally got past my whole nature-documentary-stigma-issues and realized that The Last Lions is actually an extremely successful drama. It almost kind of resembles a live-action Lion King in many ways. There’s hope, despair, action, tenderness, revenge, honor… in reality it’s quite fascinating. And I really came around at the end there, to the point where I was in tears—alone between two empty chairs, looking around to see if anyone else was sobbing silently like an idiot, but really just exposing my over-sensitivity to the poor souls in my section of the theater. Damn.

Anyway, I guess what I’m meaning to say is that, yes, I still think nature documentaries can generally be pretty boring. Most of them follow the same format and I tend to feel like if I’ve seen one I’ve seen them all. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film quite like The Last Lions. And I’m thanking my lazy, judgmental ass for getting out of bed this morning to go see it for the benefit of the elephant readers. But really, the pleasure was all mine.

To learn more about what you can do to support this cause, visit www.causeanuproar.org. You can also text “lions” to 50555 to donate $10.

René Cousineau was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, CO. She currently lives in Boulder and is a student of fiction writing and Russian literature. She spends her time reading, cleaning, hiking, dancing, and slinging cupcakes at a local bakery/coffee shop.

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