by filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert
Although we grew up in Africa we always had a sense that somehow we were seeing it from afar, from behind some veil, and that the real Africa, that wild place, was out there somewhere. So as soon as we could we left the city and started a life in the bush. To understand this place, this wild spirit that is Africa, we decided to try to dig down as deep as we could into the most important and driving force of the African bush: lions.
Slowly we got swept up not only in the dynamics and romance of living with lions but in that they are so much like us, with individual characters and real personalities. In fact we started to get caught up in the soap opera-like lives of big cats. The Last Lions is just one of those stories, of an individual lioness who leads an extraordinary life, as extraordinary as all our lives are actually! There are scenes we’ve been waiting for for twenty years, shots that we never even dreamed of getting when we wrote the treatment for this film, and moments that made our eyes well up with emotion, even as we were filming.
We’ve studied and filmed lions for over 28 years now and we’re constantly surprised and amazed by them, but no more so than when we researched the status of these animals we so love, and found out that since we were born their numbers have plummeted from 450,000 to around 20,000. We knew we had to make this film and we knew we needed to do it fast, not just because these may be the last lions roaming free in the wildest place on Earth, but because if we don’t get this message out, far and wide, these may well be the last lions!
We’ve had fantastic collaborators on this journey in the form of National Geographic, not only in their entertainment division but within the Society itself, where we have now founded the Big Cats Initiative to convert this media work and fund raising into real on-the-ground projects to save lions. Most of all we hope that audiences will be transported beyond that veil we were sensing as kids, into the wild places of Africa, and beyond, into the very soul of a very special lioness called Ma di Tau, the mother and protector of lions and our real main character. We think that audiences will be drawn into seeing Africa on a broad canvas the way it’s meant to be experienced, with time to get to know some of the last wild lions on Earth, on a journey that parallels ours and that has changed our lives.