Autlook Filmsales, one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, has acquired “Black Mambas,” ahead of its world premiere on March 30 at CPH:DOX documentary film festival in the F:ACT competition section. Lena Karbe’s debut feature follows the first all-female anti-poaching unit at Greater Kruger Park in South Africa. Variety has the trailer exclusively.
Autlook CEO Salma Abdalla said the film “is a very contemporary narrative on conservation and the power structures. The local anti-poaching female unit, run by white male leaders, are displaying the slow process of de-colonialism within the microcosms at the popular Greater Kruger Park.”
Formed ostensibly to protect the “Big 5” game animals in the park – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and African buffalo – the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit is the brain child of Craig Spencer of Transfrontier Africa NPC, who “used the momentum of the rhino poaching crisis in 2013 as an opportunity to amplify his personal goals of education, tourism and economic-development within the conservation trade,” according to a statement.
Patrolling the park borders without guns, the Black Mambas face more than poachers as they “navigate the country’s embedded post-colonialism and must champion their own empowerment and liberation in a racial present.”
Karbe filmed “Black Mambas” over two COVID-pandemic years, taking the opportunity to follow the three Black Mambas during a time of crisis that sharpened already existing conflicts and dire economic situations.
“The reserves of Greater Kruger are unaffordable to most locals,” explains Karbe about the disparate cultures colliding in the park. “Unlike Kruger National Park, Greater Kruger caters specifically to rich, white tourists. These privately owned reserves, open for sport hunting as well as luxury tours, border the national park and are crucial for Kruger because they become the entry point for poachers – some of whom are starving locals who will never benefit from the conservation-tourism economy.”
CPH:DOX has also organized a “Conversation With…” event on March 30 to immediately follow the screening. Mary C. Namagambe, founder of She for She, and Thandi Allin Dyani, head of partnerships at Girls Are Awesome, will be in conversation with Karbe about empowerment, feminism and women in Africa.