I can never get enough stories about women changing the world, and the documentary “Our Gorongosa” showcases Dominique Gonçalves, a young elephant ecologist who is making her mark on her home country of Africa. After 95% of Gorongosa’s wildlife population was lost during a civil war and a new restoration project was put into place, Gonçalves saw a disconnect with the local residents and began to promote a coexistence between animals and the human residents.
By bringing community development, health care, agriculture support, and education to surrounding communities, Gorongosa is redefining the identity and purpose of this national park. It’s an incredible undertaking that has been successful, and the film showcases the efforts of so many to better the lives of everyone and everything.
The inspiring story is told in Gonçalves’ own words, with her providing voice-over narration as well as on-camera interviews. It’s powerful and inspiring to see some of the women for whom she’s assisted in creating opportunities, from new mothers and school-aged girls, to some of Gorongosa’s first female park rangers.
It’s commendable how far Gorongosa has come with just the simple notion of the importance of explaining how important animals are to their own survival. As Gonçalves puts it, a mother with a hungry child won’t care or understand why elephants should be protected, so it’s crucial to get to the root of the problem by taking care of the people who live around the wildlife.
Director James Byrne works with an abundance gorgeous shots of the African savannah, breathtaking in their natural beauty. Byrne conveys Gonçalves’ appreciation and admiration for the animals with her close-up shots of graceful lions and families of elephants. The visuals are inspiring too, especially the scenes with female park rangers who are beaming with pride for their role in setting a positive example for young girls, to the touching end montage of young girls stating what they want to be when they grow up. There’s a sense of hope for the future, and it left me misty-eyed.
“Our Gorongosa” is uplifting and should inspire future generations of women to take steps to improve their own communities, no matter where in the world they may be. It’s a beautiful documentary inside and out.
By: Louisa Moore