Ivory dealer “X” (outside car window) and poacher Lukas wait for the wildlife rangers to pass. From When Lambs Become Lions, directed by Jon Kasbe. Courtesy of Kasbe Films / The Documentary Group.
Ivory dealer “X” (outside car window) and poacher Lukas wait for the wildlife rangers to pass. From When Lambs Become Lions, directed by Jon Kasbe. Courtesy of Kasbe Films / The Documentary Group.

WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS, a gorgeously crafted work of vérité cinema that takes us to the front lines of the poaching divide through the intertwined stories of an ivory dealer and a wildlife ranger, will World Premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, running April 18-29.  WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS, from Kasbe Films and The Documentary Group, was executive produced by Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts) and marks the arrival of an exciting new filmmaking talent in 27-year-old first-time feature director Jon Kasbe.

In a Kenyan town bordering wildlife conservation land, “X”, a small-time ivory dealer, fights to stay on top while forces mobilize to destroy his trade. When he turns to his younger cousin, Asan, a conflicted wildlife ranger who hasn’t been paid in months, they both see a possible lifeline.

As African governments step up their crackdown on elephant poaching, the poachers face their own existential crisis. For them, conservationists are not only winning their campaign to value elephant life over its ivory, but over human life as well. Who are these hunters who will risk death, arrest, and the moral outrage of the world to provide for their families?

Ivory dealer “X” (left in foreground) visits the wildlife ranger unit of his cousin Asan (at right). From When Lambs Become Lions, directed by Jon Kasbe. Courtesy of Kasbe Films / The Documentary Group.
Ivory dealer “X” (left in foreground) visits the wildlife ranger unit of his cousin Asan (at right). From When Lambs Become Lions, directed by Jon Kasbe. Courtesy of Kasbe Films / The Documentary Group.

Director Jon Kasbe followed the film’s subjects over a three-year period, gaining an extraordinary level of access and trust as he became part of their everyday lives. The result is a rare and visually arresting look through the perspectives and motives of the people at the epicenter of the conservation divide.

WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS was directed and shot by Jon Kasbe and produced by Kasbe, Innbo Shim, Tom Yellin, and Andrew Harrison Brown. The film was edited by Frederick Shanahan, Jon Kasbe and Caitlyn Greene with music by West Dylan Thordson. Executive producers are Matthew Heineman, Isaac Lee, Eric Douat, Nicolás Ibargüen, Juan Rendón, and Daniel Eilemberg.

Tribeca Film Festival Screenings

Friday, April 20, 8:30 pm
Cinepolis Chelsea 2, 260 W. 23rd St. (at 8th Ave.)

Saturday, April 21, 6:00 pm
Regal Battery Park 10, 102 North End Ave. (at Murray St.)

Sunday, April 22, 3:15 pm
Regal Battery Park 1, 102 North End Ave. (at Murray St.)

Wednesday, 25, 4:00 pm
Cinepolis Chelsea 9, 260 W. 23rd St. (at 8th Ave.)

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