Stepping under the blue lights of the entrance, a rising excitement that just a corridor away would be the preview of Racing Extinction; Discovery Network’s biggest global event.
This was a special one for me, having worked on the school resources that supplement the event as part of my role as a sub editor at Discovery Education — plus, it would bring together two of my biggest passions: my job and my campaign work for Born Free Foundation.
Coincidently, one of the first people I bumped into at the top of a staircase adjorned with beautiful photographs of endangered species (complemented by their population facts and figures for us all to reflect upon); was Born Free’s Policy Advisor (and head of the Badger Trust) Dom Dyer: a face I have come to be familiar with thanks to demonstrations against Taji Cove, fox hunting, canned lion hunting, and most recently; the Lion Aid event in memory of Cecil the lion.
A deep breath and on through the double doors to the main buzz of the evening; a room of invited guests, Discovery employees and various animal activists, charities and campaigners. There among the crowd stood my dear friend Will Travers (below), whose presence made arriving at such a prestigious event alone slightly less daunting. I’ve said it before, but the close-nit camaraderie among Born Free’s founders, patrons and supporters really is second to none.
With little time to spare (my ill-prepared decision to walk to the venue from Baker Street Station — a near-on half an hour walk as it turn out — had seen to that); it was on to the main event. The screening of this highly-anticipated, four-years-in-the-making docufilm by director Louie Psihoyos whose work includes the Academy Award Winning documentary The Cove, which I’ve previously written about here.
I hadn’t realised before arrival, that journalist and Born Free supporter Kate Silverton would be hosting the event, which immediately took me back to last year’s Wild Night at the Movies: hosted by a then very pregnant Kate Silverton: this was the event that my subsequent blog post about had earned me an invitation to meet Will Travers for the first time — a serendipitous detail to this evening indeed!
I don’t know how to possibly put into words the power of the film that Louie Psihoyos has created. It’s a must watch… a must act upon… call to arms kind of film.
I almost feel like we have a duty as part of the human race — or more accurately still, as part of planet Earth — to hear the message that this movie speaks.
With a bigger budget and a cable network’s backing behind him, former National Geographic journalist Psihoyos has taken all the dramatic journalistic investigating; emotional narrative and strong, intelligent ethos of The Cove and mixed in some brilliant visionary talent (in the form of well-documented Empire State Building illuminator and Obscura Digital Founder,Travis Threlkel, and eco-warrior Race Car Driver Leilani Münter) to create something pretty spectacular.
For those interested in joining in the Global Premiere of the film, save the date: 2nd December, where Discovery Channel will be screening the documentary across the globe in a special worldwide event!
After watching the film (which received a standing ovation from its audience), the night concluded with a special panel discussion with a panel that included director Louie Psihoyos himself, and Born Free Patron Dr Brian May.
The resounding sentiments from this segment of the evening were Psihoyos’ promotion of the statement: It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness; taken directly from the film, and Brian May’s admission that Racing Extinction had done more than ignite a candle: it had flipped a switch within him.
“The message of hope is what’s important here” May concluded — and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.
All present fundraising champions and ‘wildlife royalty’ made their #Startwith1thing pledge during the course of the evening, including former Springwatch favourite Bill Oddie (who I had the pleasure of meeting at an Angels for the Innocent fundraiser earlier in the year) — and I’ve already made mine (see below).
What will yours be? If we all start with 1 thing, we could be the candles that light up the darkness!