Hurt Locker Director Kathryn Bigelow is Making a VR Documentary on the Illegal Ivory Trade

by Jamie Feltham • August 1st, 2016

A few weeks back, we listed some of our favorite film directors that we wanted to see make VR movies, thinking they probably never would. As it turns out, one of them is already working with the tech.

The National Geographic Channel recently announced The Protectors, a short VR documentary co-produced by none other than Kathryn Bigelow, the acclaimed director behind the likes of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Revealed as part of World Ranger Day yesterday, the piece explores the lives of rangers working to protect African elephants from ivory poachers. Bigelow has teamed up with VR filmmaker Imraan Esmail, Here Be Dragons (formerly known as Vrse.works), and production house Annapurna Pictures to make the piece.

The Protectors will be 12 minutes long, aiming to shine a light on the illegal ivory trade that takes the lives of over 30,000 African elephants ever year. It will offer viewers the chance to watch a day in the life of the rangers that fight to defend these animals in a bid to raise awareness and help abolish the use of ivory in the future.

Bigelow herself said the following of the piece:

“I can’t stress enough how we still need to do so much more to fight the devastating effects of the global illegal ivory trade and I made this film to shine a light on the heroic park rangers who are our front line in this battle. The VR technology is a perfect way to take you into their day-to-day lives and highlight their passion and commitment to the vitally important work they do.”

It’s not yet clear when we’ll be able to get a look at the piece for ourselves, nor what headsets we’ll watch it on, but this is certainly one of the more intriguing VR movies on the horizon. As we discovered at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest, VR can be an immensely powerful tool in the documentary genre and do great work in drawing people’s attention to topics they might not have previously thought about. Let’s hope The Protectors proves to be another great example of this.

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