19 user 43 critic

Virunga (2014)

Not Rated | | Documentary, War | 7 November 2014 (USA)
2:06 | Trailer
A team of brave individuals risk their lives to protect the last mountain gorillas.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Emmanuel de Merode ...
Himself (Virunga National Park)
Herself (freelance journalist)
Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo ...
Himself (Virunga National Park)
Vianney Kazarama ...
Himself (M23 rebel spokesman)


In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last of the mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers - including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a carer of orphan gorillas and a Belgian conservationist - protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo's rich natural resources. When the newly formed M23 rebel group declares war in May 2012, a new conflict threatens the lives and stability of everyone and everything they've worked so hard to protect. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gorilla | nature | national park | See All (3) »


Consider This. Only 880 Mountain Gorillas Remain in the World.


Documentary | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »


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7 November 2014 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

What amazing lengths the filmmakers went to bring us this story.
2 February 2015 | by See all my reviews

Often, films nominated for the Best Full-Length Documentary Oscar are exceptionally brave films where the filmmakers went to insane lengths to tell important stories. Last year, one film was made in the midst of a revolution and the filmmakers could have easily been killed filming the democracy movement. Another film featured the filmmakers confronting folks who'd committed genocide decades ago and actually got them to talk about their hideous crimes. This year, one such brave nominated documentary is "Virunga"--and once again, the folks who made this movie could have easily gotten killed to bring us this important story.

"Virunga" is set at a national park by this same name. It's in the Democratic Republic of Congo--a nation which was known as Zaire until recently. The park is important because it's the last habitat of the Mountain Gorilla--and there are only about 700-800 left in the wild and these creatures have just about been wiped out in recent years in nearby Rwanda. Many folks in this film truly love the animals and have dedicated their lives to protecting them. Much of the footage of these folks is quite touching. Unfortunately, the park is also in a country that's been torn apart by civil wars--a series of wars in which over 5,000,000 people have died! But it gets worse...it looks as if there are oil reserves in the park and some outside interests seem willing to do almost anything to get their hands on these oil reserves. According to the film, a company named SOCO is fueling the civil war and encourages the killing off of the gorillas. That's because some think if these gorillas could be wiped out once and for all, then there is no reason to keep this region as a national park and the oil riches could be tapped. As a result, 130 of the park's rangers have been murdered trying to protect these beautiful creatures.

The story is quite compelling but what really impressed me is how far the filmmakers went to get the story. They not only filmed the park and its rangers but filmed some very dangerous stuff as well. Various hidden camera interviews were made which confirm that many of the people working for SOCO are offering bribes and exerting pressure by bringing in mercenaries. While this British company may not be behind these actions, the film clearly shows its employees engaging in some evil and exploitive behaviors. Additionally, when the war came to the outskirts of the park, the filmmakers showed some of the action--and placing themselves in a very dangerous situation.

The bottom line is that the film is very well made and shows an amazing willingness to go as far as they need to in order to get the story out to the rest of the world. Few outside the region realize just how bad life has become there or how dire the plight is for the gorillas. Because this is the filmmakers' aim, their website is chock full of information as well as suggestions as to what you can do to help.

By the way, don't assume this problem of poaching and habitat destruction is limited to the Congo. A few months ago, I was in South Africa and it's one of the richer and more politically stable nations on the continent. While on a photo safari, I stood only inches away from the carcass of a dead rhino--killed by poachers because of some insane notion that rhino horn bestows virility on people using it in folk medicines! What a waste...

UPDATE: This film lost to "Citizen Four". I have no idea if this was a good or not, as I haven't yet seen this winning film.

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