Announcer: Please, before we start anything, give a big hand to Pacific Sun, who is responsible for letting Lion Ark be here today. The film is co-presented by Animal Defenders International, which had, obviously you’ll see, an integral part in the creation of Lion Ark. We’re very happy to have this film, it’s a powerful film, it’s an exciting film. It’s going to subvert a lot of your expectations about both seeing a documentary and about some of the assumptions we had growing up or seeing in our culture. I think it’s going to be a really successful event today. Please give a warm welcome to an ambassador for Animal Defenders International, and also the associate producer, Jorja Fox.
Jorja Fox: Thank you. Thank you very much. Good afternoon everyone, [Light laughter] and welcome to the North American premiere of Lion Ark. Very exciting day for us. On behalf of the filmmakers, Tim Phillips and Jan Creamer, we want to humbly thank the Mill Valley Film Festival for having us at this incredible event. And we also want to thank you very much for coming out to see the movie.
Being a part of Lion Ark has been an epic adventure for me, and today is no exception. I’m thrilled to get to watch all of you watch the movie. It’s very fitting for Lion Ark that we’re premiering here, as it’s the first place the first group of lions landed from Bolivia, back in the spring of 2010. Those four lions are living in the PAWS Sanctuary, near [Gulf(?)], California. Moving lions on airplanes is kind of a strange and rare thing. And the city of San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport and the surrounding areas were so very kind to us and welcomed us with a very serene calm and gracious resolve. We’re very grateful for that. Lion Ark‘s biggest stars, the main stars of the movie, lions, of course couldn’t be here today. They’re tired from their life in show business. But many of the key human players are here. They’ve traveled far and wide, from the United Kingdom to South America.
We are having a Q&A immediately after the film, and I very much hope you’ll stick around for questions and comments, and to hear from this amazing and diverse group of people who are all experts in their fields. We’re also having a party tonight, a bit of a fundraiser for the next chapter of Lion Ark. We cordially invite all of you to come. It’s going to be at Bungalow 44 at six o’clock. You can see anyone in the black Lion Ark t-shirts with clipboards for tickets, and tickets will also be available at the door if we don’t sell out. Tickets are $70. As I mentioned, it’s a fundraiser. You’ll get drinks and appetizers, and a chance to mingle with the filmmakers and the rescue team. We hope to see all of you there.
Lastly, and I’ll be brief, I just want to talk about the film makers. Jane Creamer and Tim Phillips for a minute. Jan and Tim have been working absolutely tirelessly for over thirty years for the betterment of wild and domesticated animals alike, across the globe. They run an organization called Animal Defenders International. This wonderful film that you’re about to see highlights just one of their campaigns. Needless to say, they lead very exciting lives. From bustling cities to the most barren and remote landscapes, Jan and Tim have a knack for making friends and allies wherever they go. They’re bridge builders, of a sort. Metaphoric bridge building is a very rare skill, a very special skill. I think it’s a skill that’s sorely lacking in most fields in the landscape today. And I think that it is the Golden Key to finding solutions for our planets’ issues.
Animal Defenders International works from private support. They depend on private support for the work that they do. If you feel inspired by this film, and I think you will, please offer up your own support, be it a donation, spreading the world, or volunteering, or all of the above. It’s ADI’s greatest hope — sorry, forgot to change my page [Jorja laughs at herself] — It’s ADI’s greatest hope to give as many animals as possible, out in the world, a happy ending.
Ladies and gentlemen, Lion Ark. Thank you.
[Asked how they got involved]
Jorja Fox: I think I was lucky I grew up in a very small town in Florida. My grandmother was very influential in my life. She was a rabid environmentalist, and kind of a modern thinker on a lot of levels, and I took after her quite a bit. I think I also — it was also the ’80s, and it was music videos and it was new media and there were a couple kids in my school, eccentric kids in my school, who were vegetarians and would talk about that stuff. It kind of opened a door for me to learn as much as I could. I had a lot to do with books at that time too. I think it’s amazing, in the few short years since the ’80s, how far some of these ideas have come. I really do think we’re reaching a tipping point with animals and entertainment and circuses and zoos. There’s better options. There’s PAWS and the Wild Animal Sanctuary and I think we’re starting to get those ideas, and I think we’re going to see some really positive changes over the next ten, fifteen, years. Maybe we’ll be thinking that’s really a thing of the past, it’s really not that cool to see an animal in a cage do a trick, like roll a ball or whatever. There’s far cool things they can do.
[How do they get all these animals in circuses?]
Jorja Fox: You (Jan Creamer) kind of just said what I was going to say. Most of it, especially in the United States, all comes from breeding programs. The animals are here. It’s actually very difficult now to get them across International borders. People do it, sometimes for the right reasons, and sometimes not. I think there’s a whole bunch of animals up at PAWS that started out in somebody’s basement. They bought it on a black market, it was a pet for a time, and then it got too big, too strong, and they had to figure out what to do with it.
Jorja Fox: You know, I love the film so much. And I’ve really only seen it finished twice, so today was my second time. I was moved a little more than I wanted to be, ‘cause I was in this public theater with a lot of people. I wanted to be so very cool and calm and collected. It was a thrill and a half. It was amazing. We’re so happy to be here at the Mill Valley Festival. We want to thank everybody or having us.
Interviewer: [unintelligible question]
Jorja Fox: Yeah, I think so. Not too many people left early, so that’s always a really good sign. I do, I kind of see the film as an action/adventure piece. It is a documentary, and it’s real events, but to me there’s a lot of hair-raising, edge-of-your-seats moments, and yes, I think the audience very much stayed with us for the film.
Interviewer: [unintelligible question]
Jorja Fox: Why did I have to make it? I think I was lucky to get to be a part of the film. The events, moving the lions from Bolivia to the United States a couple years ago, I got to be a part of that move, and at the time I remember somebody saying “Oh yeah, we’re documenting this.” and we all had mics on. I was just really thrilled to get to be a part of it. It was, I think, an epic accomplishment to move 28 lions 48,000 miles to a sanctuary. I really wasn’t sure that it could be done, that it could be pulled off. Certainly there would be some hitch somewhere along the way. You know, it’s funny. For a movie that’s so exciting, so much of the work that went into the actual move was so slow, and meticulous and methodical, including securing these laws on traveling circuses throughout the world. It’s very tedious work. It was a miracle that it all came together.
Interviewer: [unintelligible question]
Jorja Fox: It’s Northern California, I love this part of the country, I come here often. I think that Mill Valley is a very peaceful place, it’s a place that’s very connected with the nature surrounding it. There’s water everywhere, it’s in the foothills and the redwoods. There’s amazing surfing and sailing. So particularly, not only for this film, Lion Ark, I think it’s a perfect match in terms of content in a place, but also for me as a person who’s a surfer and an outdoor person, it’s always good to be up here. I love the food here. I love the wine, I love the coffee. It’s a really great place to visit, and I’m sure a great place to live.