An epic six year film making journey will culminate with the premiere of To Skin a Cat at the Durban International Film Festival. This groundbreaking documentary follows leopard conservationist Tristan Dickerson (Panthera’s Furs For Life Leopard Program Manager) on his mission to halt the alarming decline in leopard populations.
In the last three decades the four million strong Shembe Church have adopted the leopard furs into their ceremonial costume resulting in huge demand. As he attempts to find a workable solution, Dickerson explores the cultural significance of the leopard skin to the Zulu and the Shembe, and realizes that the solution may lie in a collaborative approach.
In consultation with the Shembe he soon embarks on a mission to design and create the perfect fake alternative to real leopard skin. His epic journey leads him across the world as he attempts topioneer a design process fraught with technical difficulties and setbacks. With insights from cultural leaders, politicians, conservationists and scientists, To Skin a Cat is a film which looks at an ‘out the box’ attempt at solving a complex problem.
The film is the brain child of directors Colwyn Thomas and Greg Lomas who began following Dickerson in 2010. Along the way they teamed up with producers Jacobus van Heerden and Russel Hlongwane, while receiving support from a range of private backers as well as the NFVF, Panthera and the Peace Parks Foundation (Furs For Life Leopard Program), Durban Film Office and Earth Touch. Speaking about the film van Heerden says, “We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received and we hope that the film will make everyone proud and have a massive impact on conservation and the way in which it is approached.”
The premiere of the film will be screened at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatreon Saturday the 18th of June at 20:00. The film makers and leopard researcher Tristan Dickerson will be in attendance for a Q & A session after the film.
Tickets are available for the premiere at Elizabeth Sneddon for R25.00 per ticket via Computicket.