After graduating from BHS, Bainbridge Island native Samantha Zwicker, went on to complete her undergraduate and Master’s degrees from University of Washington. She then relocated into the Peruvian rainforest where she founded Hoja Nueva, a leading non-profit conservation organization protecting the Peruvian Amazon through rewilding programs, ecological research, and applied conservation. Samantha and Hoja have become a leading voice for ecological protection and biodiversity preservation in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon, where Hoja presently owns and protects over 3,000 hectares of land and has rescued and rehabilitated over 250 animals representing over 20 different species.
Samantha and her non-profit organization, Hoja Nueva, are at the center of the film’s story.
Wildcat is a documentary film that provides a window into a rarely seen, often misunderstood world of extraordinary beauty, lush biodiversity and deep emotion. Wildcat follows the journey of an unlikely trio: Samantha Zwicker, a visionary scientist living in the heart of the Peruvian jungle, Harry Turner, a traumatized veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and an orphaned ocelot rescued from the black market with little chance of surviving without their help. Filmed primarily deep in Peru’s Amazonian rainforest, Wildcat explores the redemptive power of nature and wildlife through the eyes of these three singular beings.
After four years in the making, Wildcat generated substantial interest from a range of streaming companies and was ultimately acquired by Amazon Studios in January 2022. The film made its world premiere at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival in September where The Hollywood Reporter described it as “A riveting journey into the wild.” Wildcat will be released as an Amazon Studios Original on December 30th following a limited theatrical run. Click here to see the trailer.
Wildcat Movie Premiere (Free)
With the support of Amazon Studios, the film will be presented for a special preview screening at The Historic Lynwood Theater on Thursday, November 10th at 5:30pm. This is a FREE event, but advance registration is required. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wildcat-documentary-film-screening-and-qa-from-amazon-studios-registration-440640797487
The movie will be followed by a live Q&A with Samantha Zwicker and Stephen Hall.
Wildcat is a locally-funded independent film production. Longtime Bainbridge Islander, and active film producer, Stephen Hall, was the first investor in the film and served as an Executive Producer of the documentary. Hall is also a board member of Hoja Nueva and was Executive Producer of the 2021 film, East of the Mountains, based on the novel by Island author, David Guterson.
“I became involved as a result of being a supporter and board member of Hoja Nueva,” Stephen said. “I had already been involved as an Executive Producer on several other films so this project seemed like a perfect fit between my film experience and non-profit/philanthropic interests. The experience has been very rewarding. Film projects are very risky by their nature,” he continued, “so you are happy when you actually can get the funding raised to complete the film. Having Amazon Studios purchase the film and then have it shown at major film festivals prior to this December’s Amazon public launch has been beyond our wildest expectations.”
Samantha and Stephen aren’t the only Bainbridge Island connections. As a former student of BHS teachers, Brad Lewis (AP Stats) and Jason Uitvlugt (Environmental Science), Zwicker and Hoja have worked closely with Lewis and Uitvlugt hosting several groups of Bainbridge High School students during summer education trips through Lewis and Uitvlugt’s Lengau program as profiled by the Bainbridge Review in 2019.
Stephen also noted that the film recently won Best Documentary prize at the Orcas Island Film Festival and the Twin Cities Film Festival, as well as the Audience Choice Award at the Heartland Film Festival.
Credit/source: “Wildcat Film/Jackson Wild Summit” press release and Stephen Hall
This article previously appeared in my: Stories | BainbridgeCurrents.com
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