Virunga chronicles the battle being fought in the beautiful Virunga National Park in Congo, where a British oil corporation is putting in peril the lives of the world’s last mountain gorillas. The gorillas are defended only by a group of brave rangers, led by Prince Emmanuel de Merode, who dedicate their whole lives to defending the cause. Shot with urgency by first time feature filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, few other films last year felt as alive as this, as it combined thriller elements with an important call to action. It's available on Netflix.
The film continues earning mentions in non-fiction categories this awards season. First it was shortlisted among the documentary films that made it to the last round before Oscar nominations are announced, and now it has also earned a Producers Guild of America award nomination. We spoke to one of its producers, Joanna Natasegara, about working in the jungle, the role of a producer and why it’s essential for us to help Virunga National Park.
JOSE: How did you get involved in the project?
JOANNA NATASEGARA: Originally Orlando had been working on the film for about a year with Emmanuel, and based on their discussions they realized that their ambitions around the objectives of the film, meant they had to bring someone on board who could make sure all their goals could be achieved and I have a history of working in social impact films, so we were introduced at an event in the UK, and at the time we talked about it and Orlando realized he wanted me to be the producer, because the scale of the film meant he needed an extra pair of hands.
JOSE: I’m sure this was one of those projects that made you go “I have to do this”...