SXSW 2017: Trophy
Looking at the issues of wildlife preservation and big game hunting, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau's Trophy is a complex portrait of several participants on various sides of a dangerous, deadly industry.
The film constantly plays with the viewer's perception of these figures and the intent behind their actions. Early on in the film, a crew of individuals tranquilize a rhino and saw off its horn - we later find out the man behind that event, John Hume, is a rhino breeder and is doing all he can to protect the species from poachers. Later on, a hunter travelling across Africa to capture the elusive 'big five' trophy animals (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino) talks about how it's been his life goal since a young age, and intends to honour the essence of the animals by killing them.
As barbaric as that sounds, we also get an extended human portion set within a Los Vegas convention where we see various testimonies from attendees getting overly excited about the prospects of killing big game, taking a blind eye to the corruption to the environment and the species very existence they threaten. Yet, the most disturbing element of Trophy is the sequences where the animals themselves are threatened by human interference; some exhibiting pure fright and terror at the prospect of death. It's a chilling image and its certainly accentuated by the crisp detail of the film's cinematography, with a POV perspective that makes the viewer feel like they're right in the moment of action.
Trophy is not like any other wildlife documentary you've seen before. It deals with harsh truths, about the idea of keeping certain species alive just so people can take pleasure in hunting them for their own pleasure; a skewed rendering of man vs. nature if there ever was one. The film has been picked up by The Orchard and CNN Films, so look for it later this year - it's sure to be one of the most talked about films of its kind all year.