Our new film draws into sharp focus the sheer horror of rhino poaching and its threat to the species.
Tipping Point is in the line of socially conscious films such as Syriana (2005, dir. Stephen Gaghan), Blood Diamond (2006, dir. Edward Zwick) and The Big Short (2015, dir. Adam McKay), all of which successfully married themes of contemporary injustice with powerful storytelling – broaching topics of the oil industry, child soldiers and the sub-prime mortgage industry respectively.
PROJECT TITLE: Tipping Point
LOGLINE: In an unscrupulous world where rhino horn is prized above gold, a veterinarian, a poacher, a documentary maker and an undercover cop all commit unrelated crimes to protect themselves and their families – setting their lives on an unavoidable collision course.
GENRE: Thriller / Drama
BUDGET: USD $2,1 million / R28 million
PRODUCTION: 5 weeks, South Africa
SHOOT DATE: 2018
WRITER: Gerhard Pretorius
DIRECTORS: Meg Rickards & Bert Haitsma
PRODUCERS: Paul Egan & Kim Williams
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Boondogle Films
SALES AGENT: TBC
TARGET AUDIENCE: Ages 16 to 34, international & local
STRUCTURE: South African production / treaty co-production
David, a South African veterinarian, is hell-bent on avenging his pregnant wife’s rape and murder.
Preacher, a destitute Zimbabwean, joins a poaching team to save his son from a renegade uncle.
Robin, a foreign documentary maker, grieving her activist brother who died in a helicopter crash, transgresses every journalistic code to get to the truth of what happened.
Quinn, an undercover cop and anti-poaching trainer, penetrates the intimate workings of a poaching syndicate: by joining its ranks.
These four characters’ lives intersect in the dusty town of Musina, on South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe, the nexus of the secretive rhino horn trade.
Each of them – in desperation – breaks the rules in some way, until their fates chillingly collide head-on.
Not only will Tipping Point be gripping entertainment, we also believe in the power of our film to raise awareness of the rhino poaching crisis.
When the film Philadelphia (dir. Jonathan Demme) came out in 1993, the decision to cast the wholesome Tom Hanks as a homosexual man dying of an Aids-related illness did more to confront homophobia and destigmatise HIV/Aids than any number of government programmes.
Key to the fight against rhino poaching is reducing demand for horn. Over previous decades, intensive international pressure led to a marked decline in rhino poaching and trade. By the mid-1990s, virtually all major consuming countries had trade bans in place, with the result that losses in South Africa between 1990 and 2005 dropped to an average of 14 rhinos a year.
However, since 2005, the killings have surged, reaching a staggering 1175 animals in 2015. This is largely due to growing demand from Vietnam, now the largest market for rhino horn.
Despite various initiatives to compel Vietnam to improve law enforcement and curtail consumption, the slaughter of rhinos continues unabated. The growth of demand in Vietnam is relatively recent, and appears to be linked directly with increasing levels of disposable income. This of course raises the possibility of growing demand in other burgeoning economies.
On the supply side, global inequality is brought into sharp relief. The majority of poaching incidents in South Africa take place in the Kruger-Limpopo National Parks, on the border with Mozambique, where, according to the World Bank, over half the population lives in poverty. It is hardly surprising that Mozambican nationals are estimated to be involved in 80 to 90 percent of rhino poaching incidents in the parks. Mozambican police and military have also been implicated in the poaching.
Clearly poaching requires a rapid global response, and sustained pressure on governments of lands where poaching and trade continue to flourish. Our team has a track record of making films that explore issues in a subtle yet emotive way. 1994: the bloody miracle has been used extensively to ignite dialogue around democracy and the complexity of reconciliation; while Tess candidly explores women and child abuse.
Our new film draws into sharp focus the sheer horror of rhino poaching and its threat to the species. Given film’s power to transcend borders and to inform popular cultural attitudes, we are confident that Tipping Point will help raise awareness of the crisis and inspire action to tackle it.