(KGET) — Award-winning filmmaker Kerry David was so deeply moved to draw attention to the massive scope of wildlife trafficking and poaching going on in the world she and her crew faced incredibly dangerous situations to collect the footage for “Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War.”
David’s documentary has been featured in numerous competitions including the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival and the San Diego International Film Festival. It will get a global audience through the new streaming service Wondrium from The Teaching Company, the nation’s leading developer and streaming service marketer of premium-quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment. The service launches Tuesday.
The film features a group of women in Africa and Asia who are trying to prevent and reverse the trafficking and poaching of animals that produces illegal revenues of more than $20 billion every year. Only drugs, guns and human trafficking produce more illegal gains.
“I feel it is a huge disservice we are doing to our wildlife,” David says. “Because wildlife suffers only because of humans, I value and cherish wildlife more. I feel like that is why I want to be a voice for wildlife.
“Before this film I was not a specialist in wildlife management in any way. I have just always been an advocate for animals. Seeing the devastation that we are putting on these animals, you can’t help but decide to do this for the rest of your life. It changed me in so many ways.”
David stresses that the thing most people overlook is that there is a serious link between humans and nature. When one species goes extinct – as in the case of elephants being slaughtered for their tusks – it has a major impact on all other species.
Some of the women featured in the documentary include: Trang Nguyen, a Vietnamese wildlife conservationist; Petronel Nieuwoudt, founder of the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary; and Hong Hoang, a pioneer in environmental protection. David was determined to shine a bright light on the intelligence, empathy, strength and stamina that keeps the women fighting to save the wildlife. The film shows that the task seems insurmountable but that has not slowed their efforts.
Collecting the interviews often put David and her crew in danger as they would often be taken to undisclosed locations to do the interviews. This was a way of protecting the women being interviewed who have been constant targets for those who don’t want the poaching to stop.
There was never a doubt in David’s mind this was an important film to make. But, she constantly worried about the safety of her crew, the interview subjects and herself.
“There were things you could not plan for like driving into a riot,” David says. “One of the reasons I decided to make this film is that I knew there would be women who were working in this world and I wanted to amplify their voices.
“It was just something I had to do. I couldn’t say no despite knowing there would be danger. There wasn’t so much danger that I wouldn’t do it.”
David’s biggest regret is not being able to tell more of the stories of the heroic women willing to talk about their battles.
“I couldn’t include all of their stories and so I felt like a serial killer because of all these women who didn’t make the cut,” David says. “I felt like this film, more than any other film that I’ve been involved with, I really bore the weight of being the conduit for these women and to amplify their voices.”
David’s career before becoming a documentary filmmaker includes three years as the executive assistant to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on their various projects before she started her own production company in 2001. Her feature film credits include the “Agent Cody Banks” while her documentary credits include “Making Miles: The Miles Davis Story.”
Wondrium launches in June as an ad-free, subscription video-on-demand service that will include more than 7,500 hours of streaming video including award-winning, international documentaries such as “Breaking the Silence.” The service also includes independent films, docuseries, short-form series, featurettes, courses and tutorials.
The Great Courses titles will remain available to members along with materials from existing partners A&E Television Networks, Scientific American, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and The Culinary Institute of America.
“We are passionate lifelong learners and believe that nothing compares to the feeling of satisfaction and excitement that comes with learning something new. Now, we’re expanding that notion even further beyond the format factor we are best known for and diversifying our content offering to include a wider variety of resources, formats and experiences,” Paul Suijk, President & CEO of The Teaching Company, says.
Wondrium will be available across mobile, web and connected TV platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, and Android. The cost for The Great Courses Plus is $20 a month but reduced to $15 per month for the quarterly plan. The annual plan is $12.50 per month.
For more on Wondrium, go to wondrium.com