Poaching in the spotlight

17 September 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Yolanda Nel Storytelling is one of the most effective tools to carry important messages across and using this medium, a group of Namibians have decided to make their voices heard.
The latest locally made film, Baxu and the Giants, premieres at the Grove Ster-Kinekor on Thursday (19 September) and features some specially invited guests.
According to Kulan Ganes, personal assistant of the team, stories like this film are very important. “Rhino poaching, along with the annihilation and decimation of other species and habitats around the world, is an extremely emotional issue for many people,” she said.
Yet the public at large often know very little about it. “We decided to condense the very important issue of rhino poaching in Southern Africa into a 30 minute film – a family story seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, growing up in the village in rural Namibia. We decided to make a film that is for children and grown-ups alike. We aim to entertain audiences, while at the same time opening people’s hearts and minds to the pressing issue of wildlife crime.”
According to Kulan, storytellers have a great responsibility. “To tell great stories is to tackle difficult issues and to make audiences see another side of the story, something that people might not have considered yet. It was important for us to show what circumstances can lead to somebody becoming involved in poaching. We wanted to show the social and economic background, the lack of perspectives for the youth in parts of rural Namibia, and to make people understand how these things can happen, how a young person might find him- or herself in a situation not so different from one of our characters,” she explains.
The Legal Assistance Centre and GIZ created a budget for the film and the team was able to craft the story of Baxu and the Giants with this budget in mind. “We were able to move fast, researching, scouting locations, writing and casting at the same time,” she said. After principal production was done, they showed potential investors what they had created and that was the start of many other sponsors and in-kind donations. From the initial idea to the final film took less than nine months.
Working on the set was an enriching experience for Kulan. “As filmmakers, we learn with every film. Not only about the way the story wants to be told, we also learn things that may enrich your own life, change your view on certain issues. And we were very fortunate that we had support from many sides,” she said.
The cast includes producer Andrew Botelle (The Power Stone, Born in Etosha), director and co-writer Florian Schott (Katutura) and co-producer/co-writer Girley Jazama (The White Line). The main actors are ten-year-old Camilla Jo-Ann Daries, Wafeeq /Narimab and the late Namibian film veteran, Anna Louw.
A screening of Baxu and the Giants also takes place on 26 September at the DHPS.

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