STROOP- Journey Into The Rhino Horn War has another achievement to celebrate after scooping the ‘Best of Festival’ award at the International Wildlife Film Festival.
The groundbreaking South African film, STROOP – Journey Into The Rhino Horn War, has taken one of the world’s top wildlife prizes, ‘Best of Festival’ at the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) in the United States, over the weekend.
The local film was up against big budget films from the likes of National Geographic, the BBC, PBS and Netflix, which usually dominate the natural history filmmaking landscape.
So it was definitely a surprise win for filmmakers, Susan Scott and Bonné de Bod.
A delighted de Bod said, “STROOP’s reception worldwide continues to amaze us! We had hoped the international community would take notice of our heartbreaking rhino issue in South Africa but they’ve reacted hugely to the film, and this is now our 17th win since the film’s release just a few months ago.”
Scott, the director of the film,explained that the IWFF is known for looking at all aspects of wildlife filmmaking.
“We actually thought STROOP might stand a chance to get selected last year. In fact, we wanted to world premiere there and were aiming for it in our edit, but we just could not get STROOP finished in time,” she stated.
It’s surreal for them that the film is being honoured this year by the prestigious festival for which they were just hoping to get selected.
“It is an incredible achievement for the film and once again, this puts our rhinos firmly in the international spotlight,” she added.
The theme at this year’s IWFF, held in Montana, was ‘adaptation’, with the focus set on humans and animals struggling to adapt to a changing climate, as well as filmmakers, who spend years on a story and find new ways to reach audiences.
Festival director, Carrie Richer said the trend of embracing the responsibility of showing those kinds of stories is pretty real.
“It is the longest standing wildlife film festival in the country and it celebrates wildlife, the environment and people’s relationship to wildlife through film,” shared Richer.
This year saw over 300 films submitted from all over the world, of which 70 films were selected from 36 countries with STROOP ultimately selected the ‘Best of Festival’. The film also won the ‘Best Independent or Feature Film’ category.
Judges from the IWFF stated after the double win, “Even if you think you already understand the rhino poaching crisis, STROOP must be seen. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking and the access is unprecedented. The filmmakers are endearing and courageous. It will stay with you long after you finish watching.”
The International Wildlife Film Festival is attended by over 12,000 people and involves top wildlife filmmakers, producers, scientists and conservation leaders.
STROOP was an independent undertaking by Scott and de Bod, who self-funded and crowdfunded through the public and later received post-production grants to help them finish the film.
Since its world premiere at the San Francisco Green Film Festival in September last year, the film has been officially selected for 25 film festivals and has been picked up by the London-based Journeyman Pictures for international distribution.
These two latest accolades picked up at the IWFF mark the film’s sixteenth and seventeenth awards.