Kathryn Bigelow's latest film is short and not so sweet, but like everything she touches, it's required viewing.
Last Days, which is about the financial link between elephant poaching and terrorism, is just over three minutes long, but it packs a wallop. Which is exactly what's needed as we face the potential extinction of these gentle, intelligent creatures.
Instead of using footage of elephants being murdered for their tusks, Bigelow's film relies primarily on animation and harrowing footage of extremist jihadist group al-Shabaab's attacks on the Westgate Mall in Kenya. Al-Shabaab makes $600,000 per month on its illegal ivory trade. Other groups funded by poaching include the Lord's Resistance Army and Boko Haram.
Although the topic is worthy of a feature film, Bigelow chose to make a short to expedite the process, because nearly 100 elephants are killed every day, making this an urgent cause. After presenting Last Days at the New York Film Festival, Bigelow told the audience, "It would be impossible for me to sit in the cutting room and look at live footage of an animal suffering day after day. Not that it's easy to look at this necessarily, but it creates a mediated layer, and also I thought it might be a little more accessible and therefore reach a larger audience."