Liguria, Italy May 10, 2022— The National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) film, Kwando, was named an official selection for the 6th annual Riviera International Film Festival (RIFF) being held from May 10-15 in Sestri Levante, Liguria, Italy. The film, which will be screened on May 12 and 13, will be one of only ten documentaries screened at RIFF, an international competition dedicated to highlighting the work of directors under the age of 35 tackling social and environmental subjects.
The much-anticipated follow-up to NGOWP’s award-winning film Into the Okavango, Kwando is a Portuguese language story of a young Angolan fisherman named Elias Ngunga. Haunted by his past as a child soldier and unsure of his future, Elias joins a team of international scientists to explore one of Angola’s least scientifically understood rivers. The journey uncovers in Elias a growing interest in birds and a transcendent hope that his homeland can have a future rooted in protecting its magnificent natural wonders and unique landscape for generations to come.
Kwando serves as 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.
The film was nominated by Argentine actress, film producer and activist, Mia Maestro, who said:
“Kwando is a beautiful film where one can witness the pristine lands of the much unseen Okavango Zambezi Water Tower. A personal story of an Angolan young man striving to become a steward of his land as he joins the Okavango Wilderness Project in protecting his own heritage while discovering the rich ecosystem filled with new species to science that could bring Angola the hope for a green and climate-forward economy. A gorgeous film by Kaya Ensor to understand the work of one of the most important expeditions happening in the world these days.”
In response to their selection, the team made the following remarks:
Kaya Ensor, Director of Kwando
“We made this film for Angola – to inspire people to care about their wild spaces like the Okavango River Basin and to protect it. Having our film selected for the Riviera Film Festival not only recognizes all the hard work that went into making this film, but also the importance of Elias’ story and the work of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project.”
Steve Boyes, National Geographic Explorer and Okavango Wilderness Project Team Leader
“The Cuando and Kembo Rivers are two of the most beautiful, wild rivers remaining in Africa. Crystal clear at their sources and supporting an abundance of life downstream. This film, Kwando, was produced in Portuguese and focused on Angolan explorers to inspire local people to care about these incredibly wild and important rivers in what was known as the ‘Terra do fim do Mundo,’ the ‘Land at the End of the Earth.’
This remote part of Angola is keystone to the future of Africa’s elephants and the Kavango-Zambezi, the world’s largest trans-boundary conservation area – an area that crosses national borders; in this case, encompassing five nations. There are not many places left on Earth that are as wild and pristine.”
Since 2015, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project has been surveying and collecting scientific data on the Okavango River system and working with local communities; NGOs; and the governments of Angola, Namibia, and Botswana to secure permanent, sustainable protection for the greater Okavango River Basin.