By Anjelica Oswald
Virunga National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Africa’s oldest national park — is home to the world’s last mountain gorillas. Director Orlando von Einsiedel presents the troubling and dangerous situation the park rangers face as they try to protect the endangered wildlife from poachers and militant rebels in Virunga, a Netflix documentary. Additionally, the film explores the environmental threat posed by the oil industry, particularly the oil exploration done by the British company SOCO International. (In June, SOCO International announced that they would cease operations.)
Though the filming of the documentary took place in 2011 and 2012, Leonardo DiCaprio teamed up with Netflix as an executive producer on the film, which was released simultaneously on Netflix and in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 7. He recently told The Hollywood Reporter that he wants to help bring attention to stories concerning the environment and said, “For me, (Virunga) is something that is going to launch a whole network of stories around the world that need to be told.”
The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (awards will be given Feb. 21) and could be one of the 15 documentaries to land on the Academy’s documentary feature short-list, which will be announced in December.
Here are eight documentaries about the animal world that have been nominated for best documentary (in chronological order):