A new film focuses on the issues involving hunting, conservation, and the loss of endangered species.
Shaul Schwarz's and Christina Clusiau's Trophy explores the complex heart of contemporary issues of wildlife hunting, conservation, and commodification at a time when threatened African species such as elephants, rhinos and lions march ever closer to extinction.
This provocative documentary journeys viewers across lush African forests and vast plains and into the world's largest hunters' convention in Las Vegas to meet breeders and hunters who passionately believe in wildlife conservation. A common mantra of these businesses - "if it pays, it stays" - sums up the controversial notion that if you assign monetary value to an animal, it is worth protecting.
"A bracing look at the intersection of big business and animal-rights protection. It will enrage, enlighten and confound in equal measure." - Variety
Trophy follows Philip Glass, a Texas-based sheep breeder and life-long hunter who is on a quest to collect the "Big Five" (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino). Philip is deeply connected to the land and wildlife. He meticulously prepares himself for opportunities to hunt, and considers himself a conservationist, boasting that the dollars he spends hunting in Africa go back to local communities and help preserve the animals he covets for future generations.
This is an argument echoed in the work of Chris Moore, a Zimbabwean wildlife officer whose anti-poaching campaign is partially subsidized by big-game hunters like Philip. Chris works with government authorities and communities to keep people safe from wild animals.
He also protects those animals from ruthless poachers. The great irony of Chris's work is that he goes to "extreme lengths" to protect endangered animals, only to have them killed by trophy hunters.
As Africa's most iconic animals continue to vanish in droves, can the controversial practices of hunting and breeding actually help the numbers thrive? Can assigning a value to an animal possibly help conserve it? What gives humans the right to own animals and to decide whether they live or die?
And is there any real future for a "natural" world in our rapidly developing, capitalist world? In Schwarz's and Clusiau's richly cinematic safari, anything is possible, and nothing is as you would expect.
The film opens in theaters September 2017. The traditional theatrical release will be complemented by exclusive, one-night event screenings on Sept. 26th in approximately 100 cities across the country. Local audiences can visit www.tugg.com/titles/trophy for a map of screenings or can contact [email protected] to bring TROPHY to their town.