Over the last couple of years I have been very inspired by Ronit Shapiro, the London-based founder of One Nature Films. Ronit is constantly evolving her work to keep up with current needs and trends. “I am now developing a new project ‘Sisters of the Wilderness’ [which] is a documentary about inspiring young people, especially women, and re-connecting all of us to nature.” – Ronit Shapiro.
‘Sisters of the Wilderness’, which started shooting this November in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, takes a fresh and unusual look at human and nature interconnectedness and the power of the wilderness in empowering young people and developing a new type of leadership.
I want to highlight this upcoming documentary and social impact project as it aims to recount an emotional tale of a group of brave women from disadvantaged backgrounds. The story resonates with me as it is takes place close to where I grew up with the group of women traveling into the “primordial African wilderness” of iMfolozi in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Accompanied by experienced female wilderness guides, these women walk and sleep in big game country, completely surrounded by wild animals such as elephants, rhinos and lions. They hope that the wilderness experience will help develop their strength and give them fresh insights and wisdom and also make them a force for good cause in their communities.
So, why make this film?
Ronit and her team want to make a difference in two main areas:
1: Women Empowerment and Leadership Development
2: Human Interconnectedness with Nature
Women Empowerment and Leadership Development
“This is an inspirational story about women’s journeys to find their authentic self and elevate themselves beyond life trials and tribulations to a place where they can become what their soul desires and a beacon of light in their communities.
“In South Africa and other parts of the Global South women in underprivileged communities face painful challenges: poverty, lack of education & job opportunities, gender inequality and vulnerability especially in the light of high rates of sexual violence and the devastating effects of HIV.
“The film will give voice to women, unsung heroines, sisters in spirit who share a deep spiritual connection to the Earth and a common vision to make a difference and change things for the better.
“It carries a message of hope about women’s faith, perseverance and friendship and will inspire and empower women, especially young women, to set out to achieve what they believe in.
Human Interconnectedness with Nature
“This is a highly timely story in light of the growing disconnection between man and Nature, the deteriorating state of the planet, the wide-spread ongoing exploitation of people and Nature and the loss of respect to indigenous people, their cultures and wisdom.
“Growing numbers of people increasingly relate to social and environmental issues like: climate change, environmental deterioration, racial intolerance but how many of us actually internalise the learning and change our ways.
“What if we could go deeper to experience the interconnectedness between man and Nature and the oneness of humanity? Would that make a difference to the way we behave to each other and to Nature?
And with regards to location choice…”We chose the iMfolozi Wilderness, home to one of the biggest rhino populations in Africa, to highlight 1) the plight of the rhino whose numbers keep plummeting due to the illegal hunting for its highly-valued horn; and 2) to shed light on the threat that this unique area is faced with, including surrounding rural communities, concerning intensive mining”.
Above: Ronit Shapiro
“Imagine a world where people live in peace and harmony with each other and with Nature. This is my vision and I have faith that this can happen. We can do it together.” – Ronit Shapiro
I want to make Ronit’s dream a reality which is why I have included the link to the ‘Sisters of the Wilderness’ crowd-sourcing campaign. Watch the trailer below and get inspired!
(All photos taken by Ronit Shapiro)