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"Powerful" ★★★ - Video Librarian | RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | DISRUPTOR INNOVATOR AWARD - Tribeca Film FestivalEnvironmental Studies • Wildlife Conservation • International Studies • Photojournalism • Anthropology
Date of Completion: 2017 | Run Time: 91 minutes | Language: English, French, Czech, Lingala, Vietnamese with English subtitles | Captions: Available with Streaming | Includes: Transcript | Director: Kate Brooks
THE LAST ANIMALS is a story about an extraordinary group of people who go to incredible lengths to save the planet’s last animals. The documentary follows the conservationists, scientists, and activists battling poachers and criminal networks to protect elephants and rhinos. From Africa’s front lines to behind the scenes of Asian markets to the United States, the film takes an intense look at the global response to this slaughter and the desperate measures to genetically rescue the Northern White rhinos who are on the edge of extinction.
University of Michigan African Studies Center | Bilal Butt, Associate Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability
"The Last Animals serves as an important pedagogical tool, along with the Michigan Sustainability Cases, to thinking more critically about the contextual terrain surrounding wildlife conservation efforts in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The documentary leaves us thinking more about the racialized nature of conservation in Africa today and about the question, for whom rhino and elephant are The Last Animals."
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Christopher Lewis, American University Library
"The film is compelling nevertheless and the narration style is effective. Though there are other films on these topics, there are none that capture the last days of the Northern White Rhinos so comprehensively. Recommended for all public and academic libraries."
Video Librarian ★★★
"A powerful documentary, this is recommended."
"With over 40,000 elephants disappearing each year, and the total Northern White Rhino population numbering five, the fear of extinction described here is justified. This eye-opening program explores the role of the ivory trade in the decimation of rhinos and elephants by poachers, terrorists, and criminal networks. Filmmakers move from markets in Vietnam to a rhino orphanage in Kenya to a zoo in San Diego to interview the scientists, animal advocates, politicians, and military officials trying to stop the killings. Interviews are captioned in English. By collecting DNA from animals in Africa and comparing it to that in confiscated ivory tusks, scientists are able to track and intercept shipments. Advocates try to pass 'No Ivory' bans to limit the demand of the product with limited results, and Congolese soldiers risk their lives to protect the remaining rhinos and elephants. The slaughter of the animals is difficult to watch, but the urgency of the message is compelling."
"An urgent and beautifully shot film about the world’s largest land mammals and the people fighting to prevent their extinction ... 'The Last Animals' is an ode to the 'unsung heroes' who every day risk, and frequently lose, their lives protecting animals."
WildAid | John Baker, Chief Program Officer
“I have seen a bunch of these films and from a filmmaking point of view, The Last Animals is the best of the bunch. I like how [Brooks] connected, at the beginning of the film, the buying of products in northern Vietnam and then followed the thread all the way back, featuring the rangers in Garamba and the rhino efforts in Ol Pejeta [Conservancy in Kenya], getting the whole story of the northern white rhino and then going into the demand side and the fact that there was progress being made in Asia on reducing demand.”
Screen Daily | Fionnuala Halligan, Chief Film Critic
"What distinguishes The Last Animals from other films on the subject ... is the raw urgency of Brooks’ direct conflict reportage: she is a war correspondent who lets us understand that what is happening here is nothing short of an all-out battle. This investigative mission, coupled with her painterly eye, elevates this doc – for the most part – into something filmic, often elegiac, and hopefully galvanising."
Jezebel | Ellie Shechet
"The Last Animals is an ambitious, agonizing documentary that weaves the plight of the dwindling Northern Whites into the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade and its connection to international trafficking organizations and armed groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army and the SPLA."
The Seattle Times
"University of Washington research professor Samuel K. Wasser provides key commentary for 'The Last Animals,' a frightening, nearly hopeless doomsday documentary about the extinction of elephants and rhinos that once thrived in Africa. Writer-director Kate Brooks focuses on the damage done by poaching, both officially approved and otherwise, with some of the profits financing terrorist groups. Testimonials cover a wide range, including England’s Prince William who helps to bring it all into perspective."
Bozeman Doc Series Review | Jason Burlage
"An evocative, informative and hard-hitting film, The Last Animals is a dense mixture of observational and, at times, undercover footage, interviews, informational graphics, and news clips. The film packs a great deal into its one hour and thirty-two minutes. Brooks’ background in photography and war zones is evident in the beautiful and often visceral on-the-ground cinematography in Africa. We follow rangers, biologists, scientists and researchers as they do all they can to keep the remaining elephants and Northern White rhinos alive."
New Statesman | India Bourke
"Brooks' film is a brutally direct examination of the rise of the modern poaching crisis, from the international poaching and trafficking syndicates who run the illegal trade, to the park rangers who risk their lives to stop them."
Disruptor Innovator Award | Tribeca Film Festival
Panda Impact Award | Wildscreen Festival
Best International Feature | Northwest Fest
Best Documentary Feature | San Diego International Film Festival
Best Feature Documentary | Waimea Ocean Film Festival
Best Documentary | Anchorage International Film Festival
Top 4 Audience Choice Awards | Hot Docs
Grierson Awards Shortlist | British Documentary Awards
Special Grand Jury Nominee | Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival
Environmental Award Nominee Special Mention | Sheffield Doc Fest
U.S. Embassy London
Department of Justice, Wildlife Trafficking Forum
Hong Kong University
Royal Geographic Society
The Explorers Club
Yale Environmental Film Festival
U.S. Embassy Nairobi
D.C. Environmental Film Festival: Opening Film
Regents Street Cinema: EarthDay
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH KATE BROOKS
Director of THE LAST ANIMALS
Kate Brooks is an international photojournalist and filmmaker who has chronicled conflict and human rights for the past two decades. Her photographs have been extensively published in TIME, Newsweek, Smithsonian and The New Yorker and exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. In 2010, Brooks' love for filmmaking was sparked while working as a cinematographer on the documentary The Boxing Girls of Kabul. Her introspective collection of essays and photographs, In the Light of Darkness: A Photographer’s Journey After 9/11, was selected as one of the best photography books of 2011. In 2012-13, Kate was a Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. There she researched the global wildlife trafficking crisis before embarking on directing her first film THE LAST ANIMALS. The documentary premiered at Tribeca Film Festival on Earth Day 2017 and was awarded a Disruptor Award, alongside those who sacrificed their lives protecting Garamba National Park. The film has been widely recognized for its ability to disrupt the status quo on policy and change hearts and minds, later winning the Terra Mater Factual Studios Impact Award in consideration with Blue Planet II. Brooks' drive and passion for conservation comes from the fundamental belief that time is running out and that we are at a critical moment in natural history. From her perspective “despite of all the human destruction on the planet, there is still a natural order and it is necessary for us to do everything we can to protect that while we can.” Kate also founded The Last Animals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that was established in California to raise awareness about wildlife trafficking and to support conservation efforts with a particular focus on rangers, their families and local communities in ecosystems plagued by conflict and insecurity.