Filmmaker Q&A with Orlando Von Einsiedel of VIRUNGA
Africa’s oldest national park containing the last natural habitat for endangered mountain gorillas exists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As civil unrest grows within the DRC, a British oil company pursues efforts to drill in this UNESCO world heritage site. A small number of park rangers and a determined journalist fight to secure the park’s borders from poachers and businessmen alike. VIRUNGA shockingly exposes blatant corruption, highlighting the political and environmental crisis in the Congo.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself.
Orlando von Einisiedel is just a scruffy filmmaker from south London.
2. What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?
I was drawn by the bravery of the Virunga National Park’s rangers. After 20 years of conflict I was amazed at the optimism they held for the region and how they would risk they lives on a daily basis to protect the park. Every single one of them was willing to lay down their lives to protect a place they see as one of the best hopes eastern Congo has to drive sustainable development and lasting peace.
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
I wasn’t banking on a new civil war starting only a few weeks after arriving in Democratic Republic of the Congo or to spend two years investigating illegal oil exploration taking place in the Virunga National Park.
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
Having the honour of being able to film with the rangers of Virunga National Park through thick and thin.
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
To tell the stories of inspirational people, to bring power to account and spend time in beautiful parts of our fragile planet.
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theatre?
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Mohammed in James Longley’s IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
MAN ON WIRE
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
THE ACT OF KILLING
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
Sadly, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL probably has a pretty strong claim to this title…
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
We’ve been pretty humbled by how the film has been received and touched by the support from people all around the world who’ve rallied to get behind our team and the Virunga National Park. This project has always been about a lot more than just a film. For us, the film is one tool in a toolbox to try and help protect one of the key resources eastern Congo has to change the region for the better, especially in the face of illegal oil exploration by a Western company motivated by profit.
13. What song do you love this summer?
“1er Gaou” by Magic System
Thursday, June 19, 9:00 p.m.
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Friday, June 20, 9:15 p.m.
(click HERE to buy tickets)