2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: TROPHY

trophyTROPHY
Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau explore the complex intersections between wildlife conservation and big game hunting.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Special Program:
The New Climate

Sundance Program Description:

Endangered African species like elephants, rhinos, and lions march closer to extinction each year. Their devastating decline is fueled by a global desire to consume and collect these majestic animals. TROPHY investigates the powerhouse businesses of big game hunting, breeding, and wildlife conservation. Through the eyes of impassioned individuals who drive these industries, filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau grapple with the complex consequences of imposing economic value on animals. What are the ethical implications of treating animals as commodities? Does breeding, farming, and hunting offer some of the few remaining options to conserve these species before it’s too late?

Shaul Schwarz (NARCO CULTURA, 2013 Sundance Film Festival) has never been a filmmaker who sees the world in black and white. Embracing the gray areas that make for a multifaceted assessment of big game hunting and the industries that support it, TROPHY will spark fierce debate as it digs deeper to examine the state of our planet and the conscience of humanity.

Some Background:
Director/Cinematographer:

  • Shaul Schwarz
    Past Sundance docs:

    NARCO CULTURA

    Schwarz is a photojournalist who made his filmmaking debut at Sundance before going on to work on projects for Discovery, History, CNN, and Time Magazine.

Co-Director/Cinematographer:

  • Christina Clusiau
    This marks Clusiau’s Sundance debut. She is a co-founder of Schwarz’s production company, Reel Peak Films, and has shot his most recent projects.

Producers:

  • Lauren Haber
    Past Sundance docs:

    NARCO CULTURA (associate producer)

    As an executive at Parts & Labor, Haber also previously brought several notable narrative projects to Sundance, including THE WITCH (2015), which she co-produced.

  • Julia Nottingham
    Previous Sundance docs:

    ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (2016)

    Nottingham is the documentary head of London’s Pulse Films.

Associate Producer:

  • Luke Boelitz
    This is the first Sundance credit for Reel Peak’s Boelitz.

Co-Producer:

  • Alex Scharfman
    Scharfman previously produced Sundance narrative alumni via Parts & Labor, including KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (2012), but this marks his first doc credit at the festival.

Executive Producers:

Co-Executive Producers:

  • Jenny Raskin
    Past Sundance docs:

    NOTES ON BLINDNESS
    AUDRIE & DAISY
    SEMBENE!
    HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD
    CENSORED VOICES
    CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM
    WEB JUNKIE (2014)
    THE CRASH REEL (2013, co-producer)

    Impact Partners VP Raskin also executive produced fellow 2017 Sundance US Documentary Competition titles DINA, STEP, and UNREST.

  • Influence Films’ Cristina Ljungberg
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT
    THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK (2007, producer)

Editors:

  • Halil Efrat
    Efrat previously cut Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize winner SWEET MUD (2007), but this is his first documentary at the festival.

  • Jay A Sterrenberg
    Past Sundance docs:

    NARCO CULTURA

    Co-founder of the Meerkat Media Collective, Sterrenberg also cut the Academy Award nominated short doc REDEMPTION.

Consulting Editors:

  • Joe Bini
    Past Sundance docs:

    SEPIDEH (2014,editing consultant)
    MANHUNT (2013)
    THE TILLMAN STORY (2010)
    ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED (2008, Documentary Editing Award winner)
    GRIZZLY MAN (2005)

  • Maya Hawke
    Past Sundance docs:

    MANHUNT (associate editor)
    GRIZZLY MAN (assistant editor)
    WE SOLD OUR SOULS FOR ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (2001, assistant editor)

    The husband and wife editors have worked on many of Werner Herzog’s past films.

Why You Should Watch:
Schwarz and Clusiau train their cameras on a number of stakeholders, from breeders to trophy hunters, as they parse the unexpected connections between those who would save wild animals and those who wish to shoot them for their personal collections. Positioned as part of this year’s thematic strand, The New Climate, the film is a thought-provoking look at seemingly counterintuitive strategies to protect the natural world.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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