Milking the Rhino Directed by: Richard E. Simpson Cast: James Ole Kinyaga, Ian Craig, Kinanjui Lesenderia Running Time: 1 hr 25 min Rating: Unrated
32nd Portland International Film Festival Country: US English?: Various languages and English with subtitles.
Plot: Simpson follows tribes in Kenya and Namibia as they move toward wildlife conservancy.
Who’s It For? Anyone interested in modern Africa. Lovers of PBS docs.
Milking the Rhino follows the path of conservation efforts in Africa. In Il Ngwesi, with the village constructed they now run a small resort. They use the profits as communal funds for the good of the entire tribe. Because tourists want to see a certain type of Africa, namely exotic wild animals running around, the village protects these animals. This is shown as a model for conservation throughout Africa. The filmmakers posit that for Africans to embrace conservation, it needs to be in the hands of and for the benefit of the indigenous people.
The point of the film's fine, but the presentation isn't great. Rhino feels like a National Geographic film with slightly better production values. It's good, it's informative, but I don't get the excitement I get from other documentaries at the festival. Everything feels so structured, there isn't room for spontaneity, or anything that doesn't fit in with the filmmaker's plans. I like my docs to have a little bit of a flying by the seat of the pants feel. They're about real life and should reflect it. Finding things that aren't expected is what makes them interesting.
Final Score: 6/10