Sisters in the Wilderness – documentary film
“A journey into wilderness is an intense experience where one can expect to undergo a personal transformation. It can enhance personal growth and build leadership; and it is also a soulful experience that has the capacity to heal…” says project’s creator and producer, Ronit Shapiro, whose experience in the iMfolozi wilderness and a meeting with the late Dr. Ian Player, South Africa’s legendary conservationist, inspired her to make this film.
Ronit, who attends the Durban FilmMart, this week, will share her personal journey and the vision for the Sisters of the Wilderness project at a Breakfast Indaba on July 18th at The Pavilion Hotel in Durban.
The five young women who, last month, experienced true wilderness for the first time in their lives, on a wilderness trail in iMfolozi, will also attend the Indaba and share their experience. “…because of the [wilderness] trail, I found myself again…” said one of the women, “I am free…” she wrote in a poem whilst in the wilderness. “I am moving forward with my life…” says another participant.
The director and cinematographer, Karin Salter, followed the women in the wilderness with her camera, day and night. The women came face to face with rhino, elephant, hyenas, buffalo and crocodiles. They heard the lions roar at night whilst on their solitary night watch and they had to deal with their fears. “They bravely faced great physical and emotional challenges. As an observer, being part of our small crew, these five young women were an inspiration for me. I see them evolving to become role models for other young people.” says, Ronit, the project creator.
The women, who were deeply moved by the plight of the rhino, wrote a prayer for its protection. “I was brought to tears listening to the young women singing the rhino prayer. They developed an intimate and intuitive understating of nature and a genuine care for the rhino and other animals, which they came to meet for the first time in their lives, on the wilderness trail.”
The film’s location, the iMfolozi Wilderness in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, is home to one of the biggest rhino population in Africa. “I chose this location to highlight the plight of the rhino whose numbers keep plummeting due to the illegal hunting for its highly-valued horn; and the threat to this unique wilderness area and the surrounding rural communities from intensive mining. This is a place which has so much potential to enrich us but at the same time it is greatly vulnerable and threatened by man’s greed and his forces of destruction.” says, Shapiro.
The project, beyond the film, has a long-term social impact vision which aims to re-connect global audiences with nature. The global impact plan includes the development of a multi-platform immersive audience engagement experience which will combine an interactive website, app, virtual reality and a multi-media art installation. “In the light of the growing disconnection between man and nature; and the deteriorating state of the planet, we would like, through the film and the social impact program, to revive nature in our imagination, to re-ignite the wonderment and reverence that we once felt towards the natural world; and to remind us that we are nature and nature is us.”
Ronit is working closely with organisations and schools in South Africa and the UK, in areas related to the wellness of people and the environment. She plans to roll out, in 2018, a program of interactive community engagements and screenings of the film.
The film’s post-production preparations start this month with the film completion due by the end of the year. “We now raise the funding for the post-production and the social impact program. We would love to talk to individuals, organisations and businesses with an interest and passion for wild nature, the plight of the rhino, empowerment and leadership development of young people, especially women.”
The Sisters of the Wilderness Breakfast Indaba takes place on Tuesday, July 18th at the Pavilion Hotel, Durban.
09:00 Breakfast and meeting members of the crew and cast
09:45 Presentation – Ronit Shapiro, Project Creator and Producer
Address: The Pavilion Hotel, 15 K E Masinga Rd, North Beach, Durban
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