Sunday, April 23, 2017

National Geographic and Kathryn Bigelow Presents VR Short, "The Protectors"

National Geographic Documentary Films Announces Release of First-Ever Virtual Reality Short from Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow and Two-Time Emmy Nominee Imraan Ismail

Filmed Deep in the Congo, The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes Immerses Viewers in the Dangerous Reality of Those Who Risk Their Lives to Protect Elephants From Poachers

Produced by HERE BE DRAGONS, The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Arcade starting April 21, followed by a May 1 release on Within

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Garamba National Park. In 1980, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site, unmatched in its biodiversity. Today, it’s ground zero in the fight to save the largest population of elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rangers are the last line of defense in a race against extinction at the hands of poachers slaughtering elephants for their ivory tusks.

    “National Geographic has been protecting the planet for 129 years and inspiring others to do the same through text, photos, videos and, increasingly, VR”

National Geographic Documentary Films takes viewers to the front lines of Garamba alongside the rangers who face constant danger and even death while protecting elephants from heavily militarized and incentivized poachers. Shot entirely in virtual reality and directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) with two-time Emmy nominee and VR creator Imraan Ismail, The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes will premiere at Tribeca Immersive’s Virtual Arcade beginning April 21, 2017. Following its Tribeca run, the film will be released exclusively on Within, the premiere distributor of VR content, on May 1, 2017 and on YouTube and Facebook360 starting May 8, 2017. For more information, visit

“National Geographic has been protecting the planet for 129 years and inspiring others to do the same through text, photos, videos and, increasingly, VR,” said Rachel Webber, executive vice president of digital product for National Geographic. “The Protectors transports audiences to the heart of the ivory conflict, witnessing the battle between destruction and preservation firsthand.”

“The world’s park rangers are truly unsung heroes, serving as the last line of defense between endangered wildlife and extinction — for lions, rhinos, pangolins, etc., and, of course, elephants,” said director Kathryn Bigelow.

“With the help of National Geographic and African Parks, The Protectors offers an opportunity to get to know the brave Rangers of Garamba National Park in the DRC, where poaching elephants for their ivory tusks is rampant. Their job is a deadly race against time, fraught with danger, and without them the elephants’ extinction is all but certain. Every day they put their lives at risk to protect our planet’s wildlife — but they cannot do it alone. Both the elephants and rangers need your help.”

Garamba National Park has been managed by African Parks, a conservation nonprofit organization in collaboration with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, since 2005. To learn more about supporting Garamba’s rangers visit, where 100 percent of the funding goes directly to manage the parks and support the rangers.

“The Protectors is a very important film that not only shines a light on the rangers, creating empathy for those who risk their lives day in and day out,” said Andrea Heydlauff, chief marketing officer of African Parks, “it provides people with a call to action to join the fight in securing a future for Africa’s elephants. It’s conservation media at its best.”

The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes is produced for National Geographic by HERE BE DRAGONS, along with Annapurna Pictures and African Parks. For HERE BE DRAGONS, executive producers are Annie Hanlon, Patrick Milling-Smith, Samantha Storr, Matthew Budman, Sammy Scher and Priya Swaminathan. For National Geographic Channel, Matt Renner is vice president, production and Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production.

About National Geographic Documentary Films:
National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 171 countries and 45 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Co-founded by producer Patrick Milling-Smith and director Chris Milk, HERE BE DRAGONS is a specialized experience studio that comprises the world’s leading creative innovators in virtual and augmented reality. The HERE BE DRAGONS collective utilizes custom-built tools and technology to craft and curate original immersive experiences. Its creative team and production talent are industry leaders in short-form commercials, music videos, feature film, theater, design, photography and fine arts, with a proven track record in creating stories that inspire and truly resonate, collectively earning them numerous Emmys, Cannes Lions, Grand Prixes, Palm d’Ors, AICP, D&AD, One Show, ADC, Tony, Webby Awards and a Grammy.

About Annapurna Pictures:
Annapurna Pictures, founded by Megan Ellison, focuses on creating sophisticated, high-quality content that is critically and commercially conscious while still appealing to a diverse audience. By upholding Ellison’s vision to put filmmakers and artists first and preserve their authentic creative voices no matter the genre or medium, in five years the company has garnered a total of 32 Academy Award nominations for their projects, including “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Joy,” “The Master,” “Foxcatcher” and “The Grandmaster.” Ellison is also one of only four honorees ever to receive two Best Picture nominations in the same year, with “Her” and “American Hustle,” both earning nods in 2014. Currently, Annapurna is in postproduction on Kathryn Bigelow’s “Untitled Detroit Project,” which it will release as its first distribution title on August 4, 2017. The company is also in production on Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled new period film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and is developing the film adaptation of Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” to be directed by Richard Linklater. Annapurna’s most recent projects include Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women,” which was nominated for two Golden Globes and earned Mills a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award nomination, as well as “Sausage Party,” “Wiener-Dog” and “Everybody Wants Some,” with “The Bad Batch” set for release by Neon in 2017. Bigelow also directed and partnered with Annapurna on the animated short “Last Days,” about illegal elephant poaching and the ivory trade.

About African Parks:
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force in Africa, over 850 rangers are on staff, and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries covering six 6 million hectares: Malawi, Zambia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad. For more information, please visit, or; follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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