The anxiously awaited screening of the exposé Blood Lions – Bred for the Bullet, at the Masque Theatre, on Thursday March 31, was met with gasps of horror and expressions of anger.
The theatre had an excellent turnout of patrons who were committed to learning the uncomfortable truth about the canned lion industry. It was raw, emotive and shocking.
But it did not leave one paralysed with the idea that nothing could be done. Quite the opposite, the documentary deeply fuels the desire to act, to stand up and demand that this deceitful and macabre industry be shut down.
And that is precisely what the team who put the movie together was hoping for.
The documentary is evenly balanced with information and insight.
Director and script writer, Bruce Young, joined author, poet, activist, psychiatrist and Marina da Gama resident, Ian McCallum – who is featured in the documentary – on stage after the screening, to answer questions from the audience, and to share information about what has happened since the first screening last year.
Mr Young said that while our own government showed little interest, international outrage is rising.
There have been 50 screenings (worldwide) of this documentary and the Discovery Channel has bought it and screened it across 185 countries and territories – it has also had enormous exposure on social media and the team who put it together have been hugely gratified by the response, Mr Young said.
He said that comedienne Ellen de Generes, who alone has 48 million Twitter followers, American singer Mylie Cyrus and British comedian Ricky Gervais have spoken about this documentary to their followers.
“This movie you saw tonight is in an international conversation,” he said.
“Ultimately the South African government and the South African tourist board, who have resisted acknowledging that this is a problem for us, and that it is damaging our country’s reputation, will eventually hear us,” Mr Young said.
Mr McCallum said that after seeing Blood Lions, the Professional Hunter’s Association voted 60 to 40 percent against canned hunting, “ which is an encouraging part of the momentum”, he said.
”Our film came out at exactly the right time, just when the world was horrified about the shooting of Cecil the lion, and has given seasoned rational and balanced information about and around the situation, so that viewers could make up their own minds,” Mr Young said.
“Our hope was that it would encourage viewers not just to feel but to think, and lastly to act,” Mr Young said.
Woolworths has had a reusable bag made for sale which includes a copy of the Blood Lions DVD.
“What you can do is raise awareness of this – educate those who do not know. You can also choose not to support any programmes that encourage petting of lion cubs, or walking with lions, as no lion bred in captivity can be successfully released into the wild,” Mr McCallum said.
Ian Michler, the storyteller and environmental journalist who presents the information, is personally taking it to Washington to have it screened there.
For more information visit www.bloodlions.org