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The Batwa tribe were evicted from Ugandan forests as gorillas faced extinction. Our film explores their culture and eco-tourism today. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on March 12, 2014.

The Batwa tribe were evicted from Ugandan forests as gorillas faced extinction. Our film explores their culture and eco-tourism today.

About this project

(Footage and music provided by:, Volcano Safaris and Alex Wolfe. Copyright ©2012 The Kellermann Foundation. Used with permission).

UPDATE: Thank you so much for helping us hit the £5k mark and making sure our project will be funded!!

But... please don't stop now! Any additional pledges will help us make our film even better and you can be a part of it. Our main aim was simply to raise enough money to make the film - working to a very tight budget and time-frame to make the best possible documentary we could. Anything over and above £5k will allow us to reach a larger audience and dream a little bigger. If we can raise £2,000 beyond our target, here's what we will spend the extra money on:

Post-production: professional sound editing and grading will allow us to make a film suitable for TV and multi-platform viewing. This is an expensive process but can make a big difference in improving how the film communicates a sense of place and engages the audience.

Marketing and Distribution: In order to reach the widest audience possible, we need a marketing budget to promote the film to festivals and other distribution partners.

All funds raised will go towards helping tell the Batwa's story in the best possible way and to the biggest audience we can. Please help us if you can!

All of the Rewards will continue to be given to each of our Backers!

What is the Batwa Project?

The Batwa Project will be a short documentary film about the mountain gorillas of Southern Uganda and the ancient Batwa tribe who lived in the forest for thousands of years.

A guided tour to see endangered Mountain Gorillas is one of THE most iconic wildlife experiences on the planet. Gorilla tourism is big business. It accounts for more than 50% of the wildlife tourism revenue in Uganda where roughly half the remaining 880 global Mountain Gorillas are based. Sharing these Ugandan forests with the Gorillas were a tribe of ancient pygmies, known as the ‘Batwa’ people. 

In 1992, life for the Batwa people changed forever. National Parks and a World Heritage Site were created to protect the Gorillas. The Batwa people were evicted from the forests without compensation. Since then, Gorilla numbers have been steadily rising but life outside their spiritual home has been a struggle for the Batwa.

The film will explore the Batwa’s relationship with the gorillas - one they have developed over thousands of years of close contact. We intend to investigate issues surrounding their exclusion from the conservation process, and also identify the efforts now being made to redress the balance between this community and global eco-tourism.

We intend to travel to Uganda to live with and film the Batwa and Gorilla Tourism communities. We aim to uncover the story of how this ancient tribe of people have adapted to losing their indigenous home.

Why are we on Kickstarter?

We believe that the story about the Batwa should be told and we need your help to make the documentary and share a little known but inextricably-linked side to gorilla conservation.

The Guardian newspaper will be distributing our film on their website and we are also considering distributing it via various film festivals. However, the Guardian does not have a big budget for documentary filmmaking and we therefore need your help to raise funds to make this project happen!

We are hoping to raise £5,000 which will go towards:

  • Equipment hire - we need high quality audio equipment suitable for work within an equatorial rainforest. We also need to supplement our camera gear with adequate lenses for wildlife filming. - £500
  • Interpreters and translation - £750
  • Local guides/logistics and support - £2000 (Government imposed permits to access the National Parks are £400 per person).
  • Travel - Flights for the crew = £2100

Funding from our Kickstarter campaign will allow us to make sure the story of the Batwa is told and shared with people across the world.


In return for backing us and joining our project we are giving away some very special rewards. Such as; 
  • sharing insider news, 
  • high quality prints, posters, photo Books and large framed photos of the best images from our trip. 
  • Shiny DVDs and digital downloads of our film. 
  • Personal workshops and presentations from our team to share all we’ve learnt during this documentary film project. (For our international backers at this level we'll be sharing a comprehensive E-book of all we've learnt and can offer online workshops and presentations).

How can you help?

Fund the film and become a part of the project! You will be helping to make a unique film and by sharing the story of the Batwa you will help to ensure that they are given a voice and become a partner in gorilla conservation, rather than a victim.

To say thank you for your support we have a range of fantastic rewards so that you can feel a part of the project.

Tell everyone you know!

Please spread the word and tell everyone you know about our Kickstarter campaign. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and with friends, family and colleagues. Thank you so much for your support!

The team behind the project

We have assembled a fantastic team with a variety of skills to work together and create this documentary.

Director Rupert Shanks is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker who works in the Scottish Highlands. He makes travel videos and has worked for the Guardian, CNN and the Sunday Times. Check out his website to find out more:

Jocie Cox is a London based filmmaker and editor. She travels to shoot music and festival events across the globe.

Producer Rory Maclean works for Channel4 Television.

Rory Trust worked as a journalist for the Press Association, Evening Standard and News International. He now works as a lawyer in Bristol.

Want to know more about the Batwa?

We have developed links with some fantastic organisations who we are working with on this project. Many of these work closely with the Batwa. 

 The United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda is a Batwa-directed, community-based organisation which works to improve land rights, education, sustainable livelihoods, and healthcare for local Batwa communities. The UOBDU is supported by the Forest People's Programme, supporting Forest People's rights. - Scott Kellerman founded the Batwa Development Programme and the Bwindi Community Hospital which was initially created to improve the local Batwa community's healthcare.

The Gorilla Organisation is a leader in community-based conservation and is at the forefront of saving the remaining Gorillas from extinction.

The Volcano Safaris Partnership Trust is a non-profit organisation which aims to create long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities. They have extensive experience of working with Batwa communities.

Instinct Safaris - is a tour company working in South Uganda which has a commitment to community-based tourism and employs people from within local Batwa communities while also leading initiatives to improve education and skills training.

What happens if we don’t hit the target?

If we don’t hit the £5,000 target by 12 March 2014, then you will not be charged a penny. That's just the way Kickstarter works, it's all or nothing!

Risks and challenges

We are travelling and filming in remote parts of Uganda and the situation can change rapidly. For this reason we have built up a local network of fantastic contacts and relationships with many people out there.

The crew have a great deal of experience making short adventure travel films, television and video documentaries in some very challenging environments. The Guardian's commitment to distribution has given us some amazing access to people who are keen to be involved. However, we need the funds to make the project a reality!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge £1 or more

    2 backers

    Thank you! We will send you a personalised thank you email from the team and keep you updated with regular news of the project.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge £5 or more

    11 backers

    You're a good sort aren't you! For £5 we will send you a personalised thank you from the team, regular email updates on progress and a first glimpse of scenes from the shoot which will be emailed exclusively to backers.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge £25 or more

    40 backers

    You've got some good karma coming your way! You will also be getting a personalised postcard saying thank you from the team in Uganda! Plus a digital download of the film, online thank you, latest updates and pictures by email.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £50 or more

    25 backers All gone!

    "Early Bird Special!" The first 25 amazing backers at this level will be invited to the screening in London and/or Bristol, including the VIP reception. Plus! - A high quality poster from the trip to Uganda, digital download of the film, online thank you, updates and pictures.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £100 or more

    8 backers

    Wow! Thank you. For those at this level you will receive a thank you in the film credits, DVD/download copy of the film, invitation to the screening with VIP reception, an A4 print, updates and pictures.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £250 or more

    7 backers

    You are a big part of this project! Thank you so much. You are also an Associate Producer in the film's credits and will receive a high quality Panoramic print of your choice from stills taken in Uganda, A bound photo book of our best images from the trip, VIP invitation to screening in London and/or Bristol with chance to meet the project team, updates and exclusive pictures

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge £500 or more

    2 backers

    You've got a heart like a Lion! The team will give a personal presentation to your colleagues or friends about the project, including top tips and lessons learned from filming in the jungle, funding, producing and distributing a documentary. You will also be an Executive Producer in the credits, receive a high quality framed print of your choice from stills taken in Uganda, VIP invitation to screening in London and/or Bristol, updates and exclusive pictures.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (21 days)