Lion Spy is a challenging film to say the least. Journalist and filmmaker Rogue Robin deserves an award for conceiving and carrying out a most dangerous undercover mission – to expose the practice and faces behind the heinous act of animal trophy hunting in Africa. The footage is extremely graphic – could be argued, needlessly so – for any animal lovers contemplating seeing this film, be warned. It will churn your stomach and leave a weighty sadness long afterwards.
In an effort to provide answers, the film contrasts statistics showing the dwindling number of wild lions and lion trophy imports, with soundbites from government officials who have pledged to act but still nothing has changed. A significant portion is given to the uncensored footage showing moneyed, mostly male hunters fulfilling an urge to kill, and a myriad of conservation organisations are identified, leaving the viewer with the idea that some are indirectly supporting trophy hunting. Only in the last 10 minutes of the film does Rogue confront one of the hunters and come clean about her motives, but falls flat when he ups and leaves the interview.
Despite its graphic nature, Lion Spy is not a hard-hitting, in-your-face documentary you may expect. As an expose it delivers. An outsider may picture trophy hunters as weather-beaten and cynical marksmen, at the very least, someone who has handled a gun before. The truth will surprise you. As a personal narrative it intrigues, portraying an African expat objectively looking at her birthplace with a palpable despair and disappointment.
Lion Spy is screening now. Check your local guides for screening times.
About Lion Spy
Rating: MA 15+
Length: 76 mins
Written and directed by Rogue Robin