Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s release of “The Protectors: Walk in the Rangers’ Shoes” at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday was a festival highlight. But those who came to see the short film were surprised by an unannounced panelist – Hillary Clinton.
Attending to discuss the poaching referenced in Bigelow’s eight-minute virtual-reality film about park rangers working to save elephants in Garamba National Park, Clinton told the delighted audience that as secretary of state and later through the Clinton Global Initiative, she’d worked to save elephants.
Voicing disgust for the ivory trade, Clinton said, “We’ve got to bust this market so it can’t come back”.
Clinton said when she was secretary of state, she noted “the horrific slaughter of elephants” by poachers who illegally harvest their ivory tusks, killing the animals in the process. She said, “It became clear to everyone that this was not just a terrible crisis when it came to the elephant population, it was a trade, a trafficking that was funding a lot of bad folks, a lot of bad actors”.
Bigelow says there is “an intersection between poaching and terrorism, which led me to this project”.
“They’re outmanned and outgunned and they’re putting themselves in the line of fire,” co-director Imraan Ismail, said of the rangers.
Clinton joined three other panelists to be interviewed by Bigelow after the audience experienced the film.
Before their arrival, the audience was given virtual reality headsets and were able to get a 360 degree look at “what it’s like to be one of the 200 rangers fighting well-armed poachers in the park the size of Delaware,” according to the Associate Press.
With the headset, the viewer experiences searching for poachers from a ground and air perspective.
Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, AP reports one “wrenching scene” showing the rangers’ discovery of an elephant carcass, “slaughtered” for it’s tusks.
When Clinton spoke, she said ivory was being sold “in order to buy more weapons, and support the kind of terroristic activity that these and other groups were engaged in.”
Although she said that China had the highest demand for illegal ivory, the United States comes second.
“So China is going to be a key player but we are, too,” she told the audience.
The event was held on Earth Day. Referencing protest marches throughout the U.S. on Saturday, Clinton said the participants support science. “And part of science is understanding the intricate relationships that we share with all those on this planet and particularly large mammals like elephants, who have a role to play both in reality and in our imaginations,” she said.
Calling Bigelow’s film “so critical”, she said through it people will be able to think about taking action.
For those questioning what they can do to help, Clinton advises, “Stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. And part of that is protecting these rangers, who are up against some of the most ruthless killers anywhere on the planet right now, and doing the very best they can.”
Clinton has been seen around New York a lot in the last few weeks, attending Broadway shows and accepting speaking engagements. She also accepted an award from LGBT community group The Center this week, using the opportunity to blast Trump.
As for the film, National Geographic will release Bigelow’s short on May 1. Virtual reality app Within, YouTube and Facebook360 will carry it the following week.
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