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Following China Ivory Ban, Netflix Docu ‘The Ivory Game’ Made Official Selection At Beijing International Film Festival

Deadline logo Deadline 1/14/2017 Ross A. Lincoln
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As if to make it real, Netflix’s documentary The Ivory Game has been selected as an official selection at the state-run 2017 Beijing International Film Festival, just over two weeks after China’s vow to ban the ivory trade by the end of 2017.

“On December 30, we received the amazing and historic news, that China will ban ivory. It was this single most important act that may save the elephants,” said directors Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson. “We have now received word that ‘The Ivory Game’ has been invited to screen at the Beijing Film Festival. After 4 years of production, we had little faith that the Chinese people would ever get to see this film (by legal means at least) so we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

The international ivory trade was banned in 1989, when at the time an estimated one million elephants lived in the wild in Africa. Since then the population of wild elephants has dwindled to fewer than half that number, a decline attributed to the ivory trade, which got worse after the ban due to it permitting the continued trade of ivory from elephants hunted before the ban went into effect. This made old ivory tremendously more valuable, leading to poachers becoming very adept at disguising new ivory as old ivory, and willing to kill to protect their interest in the business. The trade boomed, for example in the United States, which only banned selling of old ivory in 2016, and in China, which became the world’s largest market for ivory.

The Ivory Game tracks the underworld of ivory trading, comprising interviews with intelligence operatives, undercover activists, frontline rangers and conservationists in order to advocate for banning the trade in all forms of ivory. It’s been shortlisted by the Academy and is one of 15 films in contention for a documentary nomination for the 2017 Oscars. The film is also a 2016 winner of the international WWF Golden Panda Award, presented at the Wildscreen Festival in Great Britain.


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