New virtual reality project to premiere at Tribeca

At Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Northern Kenya, Mary Lengees, one of Reteti’s first female elephant keepers, caresses Suyian, the first resident, pictured above. (© Ami Vitale)

“My Africa,” Conservation International’s (CI) third virtual reality project, has been selected to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 18-29 in New York.

The project will be released worldwide April 30, immediately following its Tribeca Film Festival run in the Virtual Arcade, April 20-28.

“My Africa” is set in Kenya, where a young Samburu woman, Naltwasha Leripe, takes viewers through her community’s daily life, tending livestock, digging “singing” wells deep into dry riverbanks and rescuing a baby elephant orphaned by a poacher’s gun. The project is narrated by Academy Award-winning (and Kenyan-raised) actress Lupita Nyong’o.

The project puts viewers up close with a thundering herd of wildebeest migrating across the Mara River, a lioness as she captures her prey, and a baby elephant in a community-led sanctuary in Northern Kenya.

The sanctuary scenes were captured at northern Kenya’s Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community. Through a partnership with Conservation InternationaI, Reteti focuses on rescuing injured and orphaned elephants and returning them to the wild when possible.


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“My Africa is about a path forward for saving the miracle that is Africa — the last place on Earth where significant numbers of the world’s largest land animals still roam,” said project Executive Producer and Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan. “If we are going to save nature in a crowded world we need to entirely rethink how we go about it.  This film shows a new way, one that unites, rather than divides, people from wildlife. Today, conservation is not about building fences but rather breaking down barriers, so that local communities benefit when nature thrives.

“My Africa” follows Conservation International’s previous virtual reality projects “Valen’s Reef” and “Under the Canopy,” which have earned more than 3 million views combined since their release.

Watch the trailer.

The project was produced with the support of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and in conjunction with Passion Pictures and Vision3. Additional support for distribution was provided by glassybaby.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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