[Oscar Madness] Virunga (2014)


Director: Orlando von Einsiedel

Screenplay: Orlando von Einsiedel

90 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary (Awards Not Yet Announced)


Virunga will be one of the best short documentaries of the year. They just need to chop off the middle half hour. Seriously.

Mountain gorillas are reaching the end of their existence. If not for a brave group of people, they would be today. Virunga tells their story. The Congo’s civil war has reached Virunga National Park. In May 2012, we see these people, an ex-child soldier, a mountain gorilla caregiver, and a conservationist, among others, defend the park from armed militia seeking to take it over.


Virunga gives us a great introduction to these people and why they care so much. It also gives us a finale that is intriguing, tragic, deeply moving, and wholly unsettling, but it definitely drags in its second act. I felt like the film unhinged from its path and took too many detours here and there, not a bad thing, but by that point, I was far too invested in the main path. Virunga is still a worthy piece of film, but as far as Best Documentary, I’m not completely convinced.



-Kyle A. Goethe

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