SC State University’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium Presents “Milking the Rhino”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SC State University’s  I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium presents “Milking the Rhino” with producer and director, David E. Simpson. This film is a part of the Southern Arts Federation’s Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers and will take place at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 at 5:30 p.m.

Following a screening of the documentary, “Milking the Rhino”, Simpson will engage the audience in a discussion about the film and his work as a filmmaker. A reception with Simpson will follow the screening.

Milking the Rhino” documents a tale of human-wildlife coexistence in post-colonial Africa. Two of Earth's oldest cattle cultures,  The Maasai tribe of Kenya and Namibia's tribe of Himba, are in the midst of upheaval and are now vying for a piece of wildlife-tourism. Kenya and Namibia both have a history of colonial rule, one that significantly affects the country, especially tourism and conservation efforts. “Milking the Rhino” also looks at the tension between indigenous Kenyans and Namibians, and the white expatriates that control tourism in the regions. This tension is explored through historical photos and footage, revealing that indigenous people were treated as nothing more than workers on their land.

For about a century, foreign occupiers followed the American model of national parks, fencing off the animals and displacing the humans. Culling the herds was reserved for paying foreign tourists, a style of “command and control” conservation, the film’s subjects contend, that led to resentment towards wildlife, poaching and mistrust. Simpson details how colonialism disrupted the traditional African relationship of human and beast.

During the colonial period, and for many years afterward, poaching wiped out countless large numbers of wildlife, a central reason of tourism. Today, many Kenyans and Namibians are finding new ways to bring those numbers back in an effort to increase and sustain tourism. “Milking the Rhino’s” traditional panoramas, occupied by majestic lions, giraffes, elephants and other African staples, are complemented by interviews with their neighbors who raise cattle that compete for scarce grasses, and that are protected.

The award-winning “Milking the Rhino” has been featured in numerous festivals, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham, N.C.; the International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam, Jerusalem; the International Film Festival, Globians Doc Fest, Berlin, Germany; and the Boston International Film Festival, Boston, Mass., as well as many others.

“Milking the Rhino” was honored with awards for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles, Calif.; the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and the Silver Lei at Honolulu International Film Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Simpson has crafted award-winning films for 25 years. As a producer, director and editor he plies his trade in the belief that a well-told story can move viewers’ hearts and minds regarding crucial, human issues. Simpson co-produced and directed “When Billy Broke His Head”, a documentary about disability culture. This film won the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award. He recently co-produced and edited “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”, a documentary about an Auschwitz survivor’s controversial campaign of forgiveness which won the 2006 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for documentaries. Simpson also directed “Refrigerator Mothers”, a film about a generation of mothers who raised autistic children. “Refrigerator Mothers” won top honors at the Florida, Indiana and Sedona film festivals, and aired on the PBS series “P.O.V”.  Simpson later produced and directed “Halsted Street, USA”, a multi-award-winning snapshot of America through the prism of one multi-cultural street. His experimental narrative, “Dante's Dream”, a re-working of Dante’s cosmology, earned five first place festival awards.

For additional information about “Milking the Rhino” contact SC State’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium at (803)536-7174.