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Art

VR film 'My Africa' narrated by star Lupita Nyong'o wins award

The film, narrated by award-winning film star
The film, narrated by award-winning film star Lupita Nyong'o, is among the winners of the annual Jackson Hole Science Media Awards that showcase the world’s most effective science storytellers and stories. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A virtual reality film "My Africa" highlighting how a community in Samburu County, is leading the conservation of threatened wildlife in an area with a dark history of poaching has won a global award.

The film, narrated by award-winning film star Lupita Nyong'o, is among the winners of the annual Jackson Hole Science Media Awards that showcase the world’s most effective science storytellers and stories.

The nine minute film emerged top in the Virtual Reality/360° Storytelling category for “effectively using 360 technology and resources to advance an appreciation or understanding of a scientific discipline, discovery or principle.”

More than 500 film entries from around the world competed for 22 categories with over 100 international judges choosing the winners.

The winning films were announced last week in Boston, USA in the presence of 300 scientists, producers, filmmakers, writers and technology innovators to honour and explore cutting-edge technologies and approaches in science media.

The film which was commissioned by Global environmental organization Conservation International which supports community-led wildlife conservation in Northern Kenya —is available in 7 languages including English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Samburu, Spanish and Swahili. In April this year, it was shortlisted for screening at the Tribeca Film Festival in the US.

In stunning virtual reality, the film transports viewers to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Samburu County, where local community members who rescue and nurture injured and orphaned baby elephants before returning them to the wild after gaining strength.

The sanctuary, which is inside the 394,000-hectare wildlife-rich Namunyak Community Conservancy also supports local employment, education and security.

At the centre of the film is Naltwasha Leripe, a young woman from the Samburu community who lets in into the community's daily life, tending livestock, digging "singing" wells deep into dry riverbanks and rescuing an orphaned baby elephant.

The conservation efforts in the community-owned conservancy are a polar opposite to the history of untrammelled poaching in the remote area that had decimated wildlife populations.

But in a dramatic change, the community has become staunch allies of the wildlife seeing them as invaluable assets and profiting from the proceeds that come from ecotourism.

"My Africa" was produced for Conservation International by Passion Planet in association with Vision3 while distribution support was provided by glassy baby. It was directed by David Allen

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