City Paper is not for tourists
A small population of endangered mountain gorillas lives in Virunga National Park, a 3,000-square-mile protected area in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park rangers work to protect the gorillas, hippos, elephants, and other creatures that have begun to repopulate the area since civil war began in the mid-1990s. Unlike park rangers in the U.S., however, the Virunga staff (even those who care for orphaned baby gorillas) carry machine guns for fighting off rebel forces or poachers. Orlando van Einsiedel’s documentary follows three rangers and a French journalist as they attempt to expose an international oil company’s misdeeds on the protected land. The film provides plenty of squee moments (did I mention the baby gorillas?) but this isn’t a feel-good Disney nature doc. When rebel forces take control of the park, the rangers and 60,000 other displaced people must flee, and this powerful film quickly changes from a debate over renewable resources to a matter of life and death.