«Yes, I believe that we can and we must try!» Interview with Sergey Yastrzhembskiy, director of the film «Ivory. A Crime Story»
Why did you decide to make this documentary?
Two years ago, my eyes were opened to the illegal ivory trade while travelling in Africa.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing and immediately began researching this film. I could not imagine then the nightmare I would discover - for a normal person,
it is difficult to understand that one elephant is killed every fifteen minutes in Africa.
In your opinion, what is the reason for the killings?
The documentary will reveal many of the factors that are causing this problem – from poachers,
traffickers to consumers. The essence of the problem is based on three main factors:
- widespread poverty in Africa (it encourages new poachers to get involved in this criminal business),
- the all-pervading corruption all along the trading chain,
- and the rising number of irresponsible middle class in Asia, in particular in China, that is creating a significant increase in demand for ivory products.
We mustn’t forget, however, that large quantities of ivory also reach Europe, South America and the States.
A lot of countries are involved in this illegal trade?
Yes, the tentacles of the illegal trade spread over the globe. For me the trade is like a river delta, it quickly circumnavigates any obstacles laid in its path.
I have already shot in more than 29 countries, including:
· In Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zambia, CAR, Chad, Senegal, Gabon, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Togo, Benin and Angola.
· In Europe and America: USA, Italy, France, UK, Russia, Israel and Vatican.
· In Asia: China, Hong Kong, India, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Sri Lanka.
What footage do you have from these countries?
Some of the footage is dangerous undercover investigations; other footage reveals stories of hope – the people who are fighting the illegal ivory trade.
Do you think we can stop this trade?
Yes, I believe that we can and we must try! Alone, I do not have the answer to this question,
but together we will achieve our goal.
If we do not stop poachers and the illegal ivory trade now, in the lifetime of our children - that is,
within 20 years - there will be no wild elephants left in Africa.
It is necessary to use all means available to us - articles, photo exhibitions, social media, films - to "wake up" as many people as possible to the issue by showing them that any delay in elephant conservation equals a new death.
I am a documentary maker, so my personal tool is cinema.
Help me finish this film and show it around the world to spread the word and create support for the cause at public and political levels.
I would also like to add that I have encountered incredible NGOs and individuals fighting the battle against the horrific trade.
For this reason, we will donate a portion of this crowdfunding campaign and a portion of our box office receipts
to these NGOs to bring direct action to the countries directly concerned.