This in-depth look into the powerhouse industries of big-game hunting, breeding and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Africa unravels the complex consequences of treating animals as commodities.


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  • ★★★★ review by Mark Dujsik on Letterboxd

    The detailed explanation of the anticipation is restated later in Trophy, although, this time, it comes from someone whose job to protect the wildlife of a national park in Africa. At times, he has to kill one of those animals, because it might be interfering with the local population or people need food. There's a process to this—an agreement based on local custom and necessity. The park official understands it, and so, when he must, he will kill an animal.

    See my full review at Mark Reviews Movies.

  • ★★★★ review by Ryan on Letterboxd

    Review on the Circle of Film Podcast:

    Credit to this film where it's due, because it's not a black and white issue. There's far more complex problems going on in Africa than I was aware of. And while this film doesn't quite get you to a point where you can feel comfortable with knowing everything you need to know, it's a far sight better than most documentaries do with their own subjects.

  • ★★★½ review by Ross Bonaime on Letterboxd

    "Trophy, at its simplest, is a film about differences in viewpoints and how one man’s passion can be another man’s horror. For example, Glass mentions that there’s a huge build up to a hunt, then after the kill, it’s like an emotional switch goes off that is overpowering for him. Later on, one of the conservationists mentions this same switch after killing an animal, which makes him sick, and questions how such a feeling could become a passion for a hunter. Trophy shows that both men are understandable in their reactions to such an incident, it’s just a matter of intent and belief that gives them such shockingly different opinions of the same moment. This film puts a face to the hunter, the poacher, and the conservationist. It’s just not always the villain or hero that one might expect."

    My full review of Trophy for Brightest Young Things here.

  • ★★★★★ review by Matt Barca on Letterboxd

    MIFF 2017 Film #68:

    I can’t think of a more polarising subject for a documentary, making it incredibly hard to watch with an open mind, but worth the internal struggle to do so.

    The desire to throttle some of the film’s subjects surged within me a few times. I did my best to fight it & absorb where they were coming from.

    Wisely, it’s observational, with no interviewer presence or voiceover. No cello is needed to heighten the emotion of events this intense.

    It must’ve been quite challenging to experience the filming & editing process to make a film that keeps people with many opposing viewpoints from switching off.

    Directors Shaul Swartz (Narco Cultura [2013]) & Christina Clusiau have deftly walked that tightrope.

    The film’s focus on South Africa’s approaches to hunter tourism, canned hunting, conservation & community safety gives us a lot of differing approaches & viewpoints to chew on.

    Zimbabwe, covered briefly, is to my knowledge taking a hands-off approach.

    Far scarier & less sustainability focus. A lot less to talk about over there.

    The film begins with an intense moment. One that shows how important context is & has us wondering what the documentary’s jumping-off point is.

    If you saw the opening in a 30-second clip on Facebook, you would likely have a different reaction.

    Context & knowledge. That's why I came to see this.

    I’ve researched the subject a little bit in the past & didn’t learn a lot of new things from this film. But the varying viewpoints chosen & the questions raised from them are worthwhile & important.

    I highly recommend it as the quickest way to immerse yourself in the current state of affairs of wildlife preservation in Africa, without being subject to an emotional plea.

    Bold filmmaking.

  • ★★★½ review by Derek on Letterboxd

    I enjoyed the cinematography and the pretty objective narrative the documentary offers, but it ran a little bit long to me, and was boring at times. I did learn a lot more walking out of the movie than I did walking in, and it does a good job of letting the audience know how nuanced trophy killing is and what it does for the economy in places like Africa. A very interesting documentary to say the least, but the middle is a bit sluggish and could be seen as repetitive.

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