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"I went to my supervisor at GUC and he said 'you can't be a wildlife filmmaker, your Egyptian!'" recollects 21-year old media design student Shorouk El-Zeftawy before getting on a plane to Mossel Bay in South Africa and spending a month living with lions in Ocean Campus Wildlife reserve.
The result is a stunning short documentary entitled Tau, following both the life of one teenage lion (Tau) and his "fight for dominance," as well as the intricate game of balance a reserve must play in order to keep the peace. "I always had a thing for animals," El-Zeftawy explains on finding her passion. "My dad had all sorts of animals around the house from crocodiles to hedgehogs, and after I took media design in collage I decided to mix the two passions together".
Following graduation, El-Zeftawy wanted to take her filmaking to another level which is when she discovered the wildlife documentary course in South Africa, where participants are given 30 days to write and execute a script in the reserve - a task which by nature is a tough one. "It's hard to script shooting animals of course, so I ended up shooting as much footage as I could and re-writing the story."
El-Zeftawy gets up close and personal with the animals, occasionally using just a 135mm lens, but the film nonetheless makes for a hugely emersive experience as you follow Tau's coming of age story ,interluded by stunning time lapses of the of the sub-Saharan landscape. Tau is seen as a disturbed outsider of the pride before eventually taking his chance to become king within his community, whilst the parallel rhetoric shows the futility of his actions with the reserve constantly having to exile members of the pride. "You have to maintain balance between all the animals, if you have too many lions, they will kill the weaker ones. If you don't have enough all the animals will exhaust the supply of grass and will also be in danger," explains the young filmmaker.
Being that close to natural killers seems like a daunting task but as soon as El-Zeftawy was in the moment she felt right at home, "it was awesome". We're looking forward to seeing once next from this budding young Egyptian Wild Thornberry as she heds off to Berlin this year for her pre masters.