Michael Webber’s documentary “The Conservation Game” has scored a raft of global sales.
The film explores the largely unregulated U.S. trade in exotic animals, especially big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards and their connection to celebrity conservationists. It follows retired police officer and exotic animal expert Tim Harrison and fellow animal rights activists including attorney Carney Anne Nasser — who initiated the wildlife trafficking case against “Tiger King” Joe Exotic — and Carole and Howard Baskin (founders of Big Cat Rescue).
The film tracks Harrison as he stumbles upon a bombshell discovery while undercover at an exotic animal auction and starts an investigation to track down the whereabouts of rare and endangered big cats. As his investigation unfolds, Tim wrestles with the consequences of exposing the tightly held secrets of the exotic pet trade and ultimately confronting his childhood hero, zookeeper Jack Hanna.
The documentary, which won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Social Justice Award, has sold to broadcaster Channel 5 in the U.K., Stan in Australia, ZDF in Germany. RTL in The Netherlands, TV2 in Denmark and SVT in Sweden, with others currently under negotiation. New York-based global documentary film sales agent Cargo Film & Releasing holds worldwide rights.
The film had its world premiere in April and a theatrical release followed. Columbus Zoo, one of the film’s focus points, cut ties with some animal vendors, following allegations made in the film.
Austin Kennedy, of Cargo Film & Releasing, said: “We’re thrilled to see the excitement for the film in the international landscape. With such an important issue we’re glad the film is already creating substantial changes in American zoos. We look forward to continuing to get this eye-opening story seen around the world.”
Baskin has been working with Harrison in fighting to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act bill.