Press release by STROOP
Acclaimed South African documentary, STROOP – Journey into the Rhino Horn War, continues its winning streak on the film festival circuit internationally. The film had its world premiere at the San Francisco Green Film Festival last September and picked up a further 10 awards during the rest of 2018, among them ‘Best Documentary’ at the prestigious San Diego International Film Festival. The start of 2019 sees STROOP winning four further awards at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards with the ceremony taking place at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on March 23. This week also sees an announcement from The Impact DOC Awards on the film winning the Award of Excellence for a Feature Documentary. The competition states that the exceptional storyline made it worthy of a further Special Mention from the Competition Jury. The Impact DOC Awards are given out annually to films making a difference in the critical issues of our times.
In more exciting news, STROOP has been officially selected for The Earth Day Film Festival, the Green Mountain Film Festival, the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and the Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand (where it has also been nominated for Best Documentary). The film also screened on opening night at the Guwahati International Documentary Film Festival in India at the end of January. In a further nod to honour the film, STROOP is one of only five documentaries invited to have its Italian premiere at the Riviera International Film Festival in May. The international jury, which determines the prize for best documentary feature film out of the five in competition, will comprise various film, culture and art personalities and will be announced at press conference in Milan next month. As part of this achievement, STROOP will be translated by the festival into Italian, furthering the exposure of South Africa’s rhino poaching crisis around the world.
The film has now been officially selected for 20 international film festivals and has collected a total of 15 awards.
Despite this phenomenal worldwide critical acclaim however, STROOP has been unable to get local cinema distribution, prompting the Associated Press to report on the issue which was picked up by the New York Times, the Washington Post and other leading newspapers around the globe. Undeterred, the filmmakers began self-distributing STROOP by hiring cinemas around the country and by promoting the local screenings on social media and in local press. The film subsequently played to packed cinema houses.
“It was quite incredible! We kept being told that no-one would come to see a documentary in our cinemas, let alone a documentary about rhino poaching, but the support has been overwhelming!”, says Bonné de Bod, one of the filmmakers of STROOP.
“We thought we’d put on one screening in Joburg and one in Cape Town,” adds STROOP director Susan Scott, “and both of them sold out pretty quickly… Cape Town in under 48-hours!
“So once we had a screening paid for by the public, we could then hire another cinema and then another one and then that’s how come we have been able to take it around the country to Joburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Hoedspruit, White River and now Bloemfontein – this coming weekend – for our last cinema screening.”
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The international support of the film continues, with Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand on their digital platforms this week. A delighted de Bod says, “this is our first film, and everyone tells us how the film industry is different to two years ago, to five years ago, to ten years ago… but that doesn’t frighten us!
“Because all of this is new to us, we’ve been pushing these new boundaries to get our important story seen around the world. The fact that these big tech giant studios believe in the film and will be making it available for anyone to see at any time, is exactly what we set out to do when we started making STROOP all those years ago! Now it really can be seen by millions… getting our rhino story everywhere!”
The film recently screened in Hong Kong on the public broadcaster RTHK, and also formed part of a judiciary workshop on tackling wildlife trafficking through the port of Hong Kong. Locally, STROOP is also having an effect in the enforcement sector, after having being screened to the South African Police Service trainees undergoing specialised training on wildlife crime.
Keeping their sights firmly on local awareness, Scott and de Bod have started on their community and school roll-out of the film, working with Africa Geographic and the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Foundation to get the film seen in areas without access to cinemas.
The film is also releasing digitally through its website: www.stroop-film.com