If you go to the cinema this weekend and see a race-against-time tale about saving a lush natural paradise from the rapacious greed of an oil-drilling company, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into an advance showing of the Avatar sequel.
However, Draw The Line lacks James Cameron’s budget and CGI special effects, because it doesn’t need them. The short film is the true story of Africa’s oldest national park – at risk of becoming Africa’s newest oilfield.
Stephen Poliakoff has turned his hand from drama to documentary to team up with WWF and Odeon Cinemas to highlight the plight of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Voiced by Anna Friel, and shot by award-winning filmmaker Adrian Steirn, Draw The Line is a sweeping three-minute tour of the park, which is home to Africa’s most iconic animals, including chimpanzees, elephants and hippopotamuses.
The park also houses a handful of one of the world’s rarest species – the mountain gorilla. There are only 880 mountain gorillas left alive in the world, and 200 of them live in Virunga. Their precious habitat could soon be destroyed.
Virunga has survived the conflicts that have marred the war-torn DRC, sheltering refugees from the Rwandan genocide, and even seeing war within the park’s own borders in 2008, but it may not survive the industrial threat from oil company SOCO.
Draw The Line will transport you to a world of rainforests, snowy mountaintops and live volcanoes that could soon be lost. As the park is not safe to visit – the Foreign Office advises against all travel to the DRC – this film may be your only chance to catch a glimpse of Virunga before it’s too late.
Anna Friel is supporting WWF’s campaign to protect Virunga National Park from oil exploration. To show your support, go towwf.org.uk/virunga