Friday, February 10, 2023

Black Mambas (2023) Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2023

Black Mambas is the name of the all-female anti-poaching unit in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. We follow the women over the course of year as they train and go out into the field.

I liked this film. Its a very good change of pace from the typical conservation/anti poaching docs we see. Focusing more on the women then on long sequences of them out in the bush, the film gives us a clear look at who the women are and what they are trying to achieve. It also makes clear the economic reasoning behind the poaching. There is a very telling  moment where one of the women talks about hoping that more local women get the chance  to do what they are doing so that they won't feel the need to poach.

The film also goes the extra mile in a number of places. Instead just dealing women, we get to see that that their success brought in more women, this time white women which leaves one wondering bringing in outsiders will change the success rate. Additionally the film ends near perfectly. In a powerful moment that made me misty, one of the women takes her child into the reserve and shows them a zebra for the first time and in that moment you realize, above all else what the women are fighting for.


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