IFP Leader attends Premiere of Documentary at Film Festival
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi attended the premiere at the Durban Film Festival (DIFF) of the documentary To Skin a Cat in which he features.
The film was screened at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the Howard College campus.
The documentary, which took six years to complete, follows conservationist Tristan Dickerson, who is manager of Panthera’s Furs for Life Leopard Programme, on his mission to halt the alarming decline in leopard populations.
The film is the brain child of Directors Colwyn Thomas and Greg Lomas, who began following Dickerson in 2010.
Said Dickerson: ‘Traditionally, only Zulu royals have been allowed to wear leopard skins. However, in the last three decades the four million strong Shembe Church adopted the leopard furs into their ceremonial costume resulting in huge demand.’
As he attempts to find a workable solution, Dickerson explores the cultural significance of the leopard skin to the Zulu and the Shembe, and realises that the solution may lie in a collaborative approach. ‘If we went in fighting, things would collapse and even more leopards would be killed. We have to offer a viable solution,’ he said.
Dickerson’s solution is to design and create the perfect imitation leopard skin. His journey leads him across the world as he tries to pioneer a design process which is fraught with technical difficulties and setbacks. With insights from cultural leaders, politicians, conservationists and scientists, To Skin a Cat provides an “out the box” attempt to solve a complex problem.
Said Buthelezi: ‘I support Mr Dickerson’s efforts to protect our leopard population and lent my name to this cause in March 2013, when his team interviewed me for the documentary. As the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation, I feel a compelling responsibility to promote knowledge that protects, preserves and promotes our natural heritage.’
A producer of the documentary, Mr Jacobus van Heerden, added: ‘We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received and hope that the film will make everyone proud while having a massive impact on conservation and the way in which it is approached.’