Summary Of Our Film:
Who are we?
We (Keith & Colleen Begg) have spent the past 22 years working to protect and conserve wild places and wild carnivores in Africa through research, conservation programs and wildlife documentaries. In 2003, we arrived in the Niassa Reserve in Northern Mozambique to continue our work on honey badgers and complete the first surveys of Niassa's carnivores.
In 2005 we started the Niassa Lion Project in partnership with Niassa's Mozambican management authority, with the goal of promoting co-existence between lions and people. Our vision is a place where lions and other large carnivores continue to thrive with the full participation and support of Niassa’s local communities.
We both came from traditional research and conservation backgrounds but over the past ten years this spectacular place has captured our hearts and challenged all our preconceived ideas about conservation. Nothing could have prepared us for the complexities of conserving carnivores in this wilderness.
What is the film about?
This film is about our journey to gain a deeper understanding of the community in which we live and work, so that we may become more effective conservationists. The belief in the spirit world greatly influences how people think and act in Niassa. It seems to be connected to just about everything... from man-eating lions to Africa's continuing elephant poaching crisis.
Our neighbours, the local Cyao people both revere and struggle against wildlife on a daily basis. They face the universal challenges of all people living so close to nature. To help them cope they regularly call on the help of their ancestors. These spirits, called “Majini” influence so many aspects of their lives. The spirits live in the highest mountains, largest trees and deepest pools, but may also be embodied within animals like lions, baboons, crocodiles and other creatures. Some of these same animals raid their crops and even threaten their lives.
Central to our experiences has been an old shaman called MweNandi who dives into the sacred pool called CheMambo to commune with the spirits. This pool, is protected by baboons and crocodiles who are believed to be the ancestors of an old chief. Tons of food are painstakingly gathered and then offered to these ancestors, despite the fact that baboons are considered crop raiding pests back in the village fields. It took us four years to gradually win MweNandi’s confidence... but eventually MweNandi and the spirits granted us permission to document for the first time some of Niassa’s most sacred and intimate ceremonies. All the plants and animals at CheMambo are considered to be sacred, this a place of reverence, music and hope. Pilgrims from different religions travel from all over Africa to visit the pool during the dry season.
Where is this film based?
Niassa National Reserve is considered one of the “Last of the Wild” places on earth. It is the largest protected area in Mozambique and one of the most important wilderness areas in Africa. The protected area covers more than 16,000 square miles (42,000 square kilometres) and supports more than 1000 lions and 14,000 elephants. It is also home to more than 35,000 people living in remote villages inside the protected area.
Why do we need help?
To date we have entirely self-funded the production of this film. We now have a rough cut but we don't have the resources to complete the final edits, music, narration and mix. We need your help to bring this 50 minute documentary film to life. Sadly MweNandi died last year and we owe it to him and the communities who gave us such priviledged access to make a local language version that can be distributed in Niassa.
Life in Niassa is changing fast and threats to its wildlife continue to increase, but these ancient spiritual beliefs remain strong and relevant. We believe they need to be respected in this struggle to save a spectacular wilderness, its lions and other wildlife.
This is the role of our film. Please support us and share this link with your friends.
What we need from you?
All funds raised will go towards finishing this final phase of “post production”, followed by distribution in the first quarter of 2014. The film is being edited by Ronette van der Walt. Ronette is both highly experienced and highly regarded as a documentary editor and has worked with us for the past 8 years, including our previous film “Badger Quest”. Ronette starts work on the “fine cut” in July 2013 and will coordinate the completion of the script, narration, music and final mix by December 2013 while we are both in Niassa.
Where will your money go?
Final editing $ 4,600
Script writing $ 1,000
Narration $ 1,600
Music $ 1,500
Sound mix $ 1,800
Portuguese version $ 1,500
Distribution $ 2,000
Total: $ 14,000
Should any additional funds be raised over and above our target they will be used for expanding distribution of the film in Mozambique and to international film festivals and wildlife conferences.
What will you get from us?
Contributors will receive film downloads, copies of the DVD, a choice of signed fine art prints and acknowledgement in the film credits dependent on the size of individual contributions.
Special thanks to the following people for their expertise & support during the past 6 years of production:
Faan van Tonder (Veranlise Air)
Kathryn Pasternak (Pasternak Media)
Tink Minster (The Camera Platform )
Joe Kennedy (Table Mountain Films)
David & Carol Hughes
Where can you find more information on our work?