Luanda, Angola — The National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) film “Kwando” will premiere at an in-person event in Luanda, Angola on May 10.
Directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Kaya Ensor, “Kwando” is the follow-up to NGOWP’s 2018 award-winning film, “Into the Okavango.” The Portuguese-language film offers a timely look at the importance of protecting the Angolan headwaters of the Okavango Delta – one of the world’s last remaining wilderness areas.
“Kwando” follows Elias Ngunga, a young Angolan fisherman who joins the NGOWP team on an expedition down the Kwando River. The Angolan side of the Okavango was once one of the biggest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, before a nearly three-decade civil war. Because of leftover landmines from the war, it had been largely unexplored before 2015. As the team navigates the fragile landscape and uncovers new scientific knowledge, Elias comes to terms with his past as a child soldier – and gains hope for the environmental future of his homeland.
“To protect the Okavango Delta – its wildlife, its people, and its ancient cultures – we must start with its source rivers in Angola. We are honored to share this uniquely Angolan story with local communities and the world,” said Kerllen Costa, Okavango Wilderness Project country director for Angola. “Our expedition team’s research showed these ecosystems are healthy and full of biodiversity, and Kaya Ensor’s visionary storytelling brings that to life. ‘Kwando’ is also a story of human ingenuity and cultural pride, and we hope viewers are inspired by Elias’ determination to preserve this natural paradise in Angola.”
In addition to airing in Angola, “Kwando” was named an official selection for Italy’s annual Riviera International Film Festival and will be screened before an international audience on May 12 and 13. “Kwando” was also selected for the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland.
“Kwando” is part of the larger conservation initiative of the NGOWP, in partnership with the Wild Bird Trust, to secure permanent protection for the greater Okavango Basin through collecting multi-year baseline scientific data, storytelling, and community engagement.