Kathryn Bigelow’s newest project may not be a military-themed thriller, but it could be her most important work yet. The anti-poaching PSA Last Days is set to premiere Saturday, September 27th at the 52nd New York Film Festival, followed by a panel discussion titled “The Crisis in Elephant Poaching.” Bigelow will moderate the panel, with WildAid’s Peter Knights, Assistant District Attorney of New York County Julieta V. Lozano, award-winning journalist Peter Godwin, and Somali human rights activist K’naan Warsame participating. Tickets to the free event will be distributed one hour prior to its 6pm start time.
The PSA is one of a few anti-poaching projects to make headlines in recent years. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Tom Hardy have teamed up to produce an anti-poaching drama for Warner Bros. with Will Staples writing the screenplay. Even more recently, Angelina Jolie is lining up her next next film as a director: Africa, the biopic of paleo-archeologist Richard Leakey, who devoted his life to combating elephant and rhino poaching. Bigelow gets the first crack at it this weekend with Last Days. Hit the jump to see the first look at the PSA.
Take a look at the Last Days PSA’s first image, followed by more on Bigelow’s project and the NYFF event:
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER ANNOUNCES THE WORLD PREMIERE PRESENTATION OF KATHRYN BIGELOW’S PSA LAST DAYS, CREATED IN COLLABORATION WITH ANNAPURNA PICTURES, TO TAKE PLACE AT THE 52ND NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
The free event will include a panel, The Crisis in Elephant Poaching, moderated by Bigelow and featuring WildAid’s Peter Knights, Assistant District Attorney of New York County Julieta V. Lozano, award-winning journalist Peter Godwin, and Somali human rights activist K’naan Warsame
New York, NY (September 24, 2014) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today the world premiere of Kathryn Bigelow’s PSA Last Days followed by a panel to be presented on Saturday, September 27 at 6PM at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. Bigelow will moderate the panel, The Crisis in Elephant Poaching, with participants Peter Knights, Julieta V. Lozano, K’naan Warsame and Peter Godwin. Tickets for the event are free and will be distributed one hour prior to the start time; visit filmlinc.com/nyfff for more information.
Director of the New York Film Festival Kent Jones said, “Kathryn showed us Last Days and I was floored – in three minutes, the viewer feels the horrors of elephant poaching on a global scale and gains a clear, even vivid understanding of the economic, moral and political issues involved. A powerfully concise piece of work, and we’re proud to be hosting its world premiere and providing a forum in which this urgent issue can be illuminated.”
On the origins of the project, Kathryn Bigelow said “A year ago I had a fortuitous meeting with both Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea had just returned from Sub-Saharan Africa where poachers killed herds of elephants by cyanide poisoning. After our conversation I felt compelled to enter this space, encourage a dialogue, raise awareness. Killing for ivory by organized syndicates was now being carried out on an industrialized scale. Working with the writer, Scott Z Burns, we set out to connect the dots between ivory trinkets purchased at markets in China and elsewhere and the terrorist nightmares we see on the nightly news.”
In 1989, the international trade in ivory was banned and poaching went down. But with the rapid economic growth of consuming countries in Asia and some legal sales the slaughter of African elephants has escalated again in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, an estimated 100,000 elephants were poached for their ivory with only around 400,000 left. The coalition of independent organizations that has joined in a common effort to put an end to elephant poaching takes a three-pronged approach, calling for an end to the killings, an end to trafficking in ivory, and an end to the demand for ivory. Kathryn Bigelow’s three-minute film, made in collaboration with concept designer Samuel Michlap, head of layout Lorenzo Martinez and Duncan Studio, takes us, in reverse chronology, through every step in the blood-curdling process, and, at its most disturbing, identifies the sale of ivory as a funding source for terrorist organizations like Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabab. It will be distributed globally in partnership with WildAid, which focuses on reducing demand for endangered species products. L
ast Days will be presented twice, followed by a panel discussion moderated by the filmmaker. The event is free to the public and tickets will be available at the box office an hour prior to the start time at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street.
Peter Knights is co-founder and Executive Director of WildAid, the only organization focused on reducing demand for wildlife products. He currently leads the world’s largest endangered species demand reduction program for shark fin, ivory, and rhino horn in China, with more than 100 hundred celebrity ambassadors and over $160 million a year of donated media space and where shark fin sales have dropped 50-70% in the last two years. He is producer of “Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming” airing shortly on Animal Planet and leads ivory demand reduction programs in China, Thailand and Vietnam. He was formerly a senior investigator for the Environmental Investigation Agency. He specialized in conducting global on-site investigations and campaigned against the trade in wild birds for pets and the consumption of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicine, such as bear gallbladder, rhino horn, and tiger bone as well as ivory trade.
Julieta V. Lozano
Julieta V. Lozano has been a prosecutor in New York State for over sixteen years. She currently serves as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she handles complex white-collar criminal matters and specializes in environmental crimes. She recently conducted a large-scale investigation into multiple New York City ivory dealers, involving the seizure of nearly a ton of ivory valued at over two million dollars, and resulting in felony convictions. She previously served as Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit for the New York State Attorney General’s Office and as Assistant Secretary for the Environment under Governor Eliot Spitzer.
The New York County District Attorney’s successful prosecutions of ivory dealers provided momentum and support to a statewide effort to strengthen laws prohibiting the sale of elephant ivory. This summer, New York State enacted a bill effectively banning the sale of ivory and increasing criminal and civil penalties for the sale of ivory. The new law is dedicated in honor of Lt. John Fitzpatrick, a long-time Environmental Conservation Officer for DEC, who spearheaded investigations of illegal ivory sales, helped to institute new ivory permit procedures and raised awareness of the need to improve endangered species protections.
Peter Godwin is an award winning foreign correspondent, author, documentary-maker and screenwriter. After practicing human rights law in Zimbabwe, he became a foreign and war correspondent, and has reported from over 60 countries, including wars in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kashmir and the last years of apartheid South Africa.
K’naan Warsameis a Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter and human rights activist. K’naan spoke before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999, where he performed a spoken word piece criticizing the UN for its failed aid missions to Somalia.