Of all the celebrities who flocked to the Tribeca Film Festival over the weekend, one in particular left the room particularly breathless. During the premiere of Kathryn Bigelow’s virtual reality short The Protectors: Walk in the Rangers’ Shoes, Hillary Clinton took the stage as the surprise guest of the post-screening panel.
Once the audience regained its composure, Clinton spoke passionately about the work she’s done to save elephants from brutal poachers in Africa. The film chronicles the plight of a group of park rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park, who are “outmanned and outgunned” in their fight against poachers, according to the film’s co-director, Imraan Ismail.
Clinton explained that the slaughter of elephants first came to her attention when she was secretary of state, and detailed her efforts to upend the illegal ivory market while she was a member of the government, and through her philanthropy. “We’ve got to bust this market so it can’t come back,“ she said.
Both Clinton and Bigelow weren’t shy about drawing links between elephant poaching and terrorism. "It became clear to everyone that this was not just a terrible crisis when it came to the elephant population, it was a trade, a trafficking that was funding a lot of bad folks, a lot of bad actors,” Clinton explained. “It was being used to take ivory and sell it in order to buy more weapons, and support the kind of terroristic activity that these and other groups were engaged in.”
Clinton also cited the March of Science that unfolded all over the country on Saturday, adding that “part of science is understanding the intricate relationships that we share with all those on this planet and particularly large mammals like elephants, who have a role to play both in reality and in our imaginations.“
You can watch Kathryn Bigelow’s The Protectors when it premieres May 1 on the VR app Within, and then on Facebook and YouTube the following week.