Freeland Film Festival Announce Opening Film


This summer’s Freeland Film Festival announced today that its opening night film will be “The Last Animal” by Director Kate Brooks. Already starting to attract Oscar attention, this is an extraordinary first feature film by a world-renowned war-photographer and a major coup for this debut film festival.

Picturesque Green Lake, beloved by locals and out-of-towners alike for its sparkling, lakeside setting plays first-time host to the June festival. Its iconic Thrasher Opera House has been announced as the venue for the opening night film on June 15.

In her film “The Last Animals,” photographer turned filmmaker Kate Brooks traces the deadly trade of illegally poached rhino horn and elephant ivory across four continents, traveling from protected areas in Africa to wildlife markets in Asia and North America in order to illustrate the complex web of global consumer demand, transnational criminal syndicates and the local conflicts and political problems that contribute to the current poaching epidemic. Along the way, Brooks also meets with investigators, scientists, zookeepers and rangers engaged in an all-too-often life threatening struggle to preserve the last remaining elephants and rhinos.

“It was a remarkable film to receive,” said Evelyn Galster, director of the film festival and director of the U.S office of the Freeland Foundation. “The theme of this festival is the issue of conservation. The purpose of the festival is to raise awareness of conservation issues and we hoped that some of the films we showcase would make a meaningful contribution to how we understand and communicate this issue, but “The Last Animal” exceeded our wildest expectations. It is the wisest, most insightful and complete telling of the issue that I’ve ever experienced. And utterly compelling too.”

“I’m honored and delighted for “The Last Animals” to have been selected as the opening night film of the Freeland Film Festival,” said Kate. “I care deeply about the urgency and importance of conservation of our natural heritage and could not imagine a better forum to debut this film. My personal drive and passion for this project comes from the fundamental belief that time is running out and that we are at a critical moment in natural history. It will be a privilege to share this film alongside so many talented filmmakers and storytellers at this festival.”

Ms. Brooks has chronicled conflict and human rights issues as a photographer for nearly two decades, first working as photographer in Russia documenting child abuse in state orphanages. The resulting photographs were published worldwide and used by the Human Rights Watch to campaign for orphans’ rights.

Kate then covered the post 9/11 decade through to the beginning of the Arab Spring; she is widely known for her extensive work across the Middle East and in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kate's photographs are regularly published in magazines, such as TIME, Newsweek, The New Yorker and Smithsonian. She also exhibits her work in museums and galleries across the globe.

In 2010 Kate was as a contributing cinematographer on the multiple award-winning documentary The Boxing Girls of Kabul. Her introspective collection of essays and photos In the Light of Darkness: A Photographer’s Journey After 9/11 was selected by PDN as one of 2011’s best photography books. Kate was then awarded a 2012-13 Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. There she began researching wildlife trafficking and the pan African poaching epidemic for the documentary film The Last Animals.

From 2006 to 2015, the population of African elephants is estimated to have declined by around 110,000, a loss of 64% in one decade. The situation is no better for the continent’s rhinos: demand for their horns as decorative items and in traditional medicine has caused more than 7,100 to have been poached in the last decade, a loss of 95% this century, and being killed at an estimated rate of one every seven hours.


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For further information, please contact Freeland’s Evelyn Galster: | 920-229-2156.