IDFA 2022 – part 2 –

Coincidence or not, there are quite a few documentaries at IDFA about the relationship between humans and animals. This relationship may include exploitation of the animal by humans, but also a symbiotic relationship, such as with pets.

wild cat by director and producer pair Trevor Beck Frost and Melissa Lesch is a poignant and inspiring account of the relationship between humans and animals. Harry is a former British veteran from Afghanistan trying to find meaning in life in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. He has been seriously traumatized by the war. He joins a rescue organization, led by biologist Samantha, who tries to save feline predators.

The two find an ocelot kitten that was captured by illegal loggers. The goal is to prepare the young predator Keanu for a return to nature. In the film, it is said that this often fails. The film traces the loving relationship between Harry and the ocelot. The ex-soldier struggles with his demons, fueled by PTTS, and tortures himself with mutilation and suicidal behavior. Filmmakers Trevor Beck Frost and Melissa Lesch came close to the subject. They lived with Harry and Samantha, who incidentally became partners.

The relationship between Harry and Samantha is somewhat sketchy. Harry enters an emotional process of letting go, the predator must soon start its life in the wild. While both have an intimate relationship, Keanu is affectionate with Harry, almost like a house cat. All sorts of ethical questions are thus raised. If a wild animal almost becomes a pet, how can it become wild again? Because then the predator is no longer afraid of man, while man is the wild animal’s great enemy in the rainforest.

Wildcat is a compelling combination of human drama, with Harry, and the overwhelming nature of the Amazon. The scenes with Keanu are always amazing, has creation ever created a more beautiful creature than the ocelot? The lithe spotted body and the animal’s large expressive eyes are unforgettable. Fortunately, the documentary has a certain rawness and lacks the syrupy sentimentality of comparable nature documentaries.

The Spanish documentary is inspiring The Last Delpino King by Luis Ansorena Hervé and Ernest Riera certainly not. It is a depressing look at the fate of dolphins in dolphinariums. José Luis Barbero has been the king of dolphin trainers for thirty years. Until 2015, a 90-second video posted by animal activists appeared on the Internet. In this, the trainer mistreats his dolphins. Shocking. The creators have turned it into an exciting thriller, little by little the coach’s past is revealed, he is a more than demanding man. And terrorizes his subordinates. Then it is a small step to do it with your beloved dolphins. It’s not that simple, José is a complex man.

The video in question is shown dozens of times in the documentary. Is it fake? Has it been tampered with? The discussion evokes memories of the infamous Zapruder film, where the murder of John. F Kennedy in 1963 is shown. The endless analysis of such videos always raises new questions. There are many abuses in the approximately three hundred dolphinariums in the world. The episode where people from the dolphinarium go to collect captive dolphins in Cuba is gruesome. On the plane in boxes. Dolphins are a lucrative trade.

It is hard to understand that this highly intelligent mammal is treated so badly by humans. It is a perverse ethic. Some human-animal relationships need to be reconsidered. Dolphins belong in the ocean, not in glorified swimming pools. José Luis Barbero also mysteriously disappeared during the commotion.

Both Wildcat and The Last Dolphin King are popular at IDFA, they were bought by Netflix.

Ulrich van Tongeren

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