Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Award-Winning Film Lion Ark Selected for Irvine International Film Festival

Posted: 3 January 2014

Lion Ark has been selected as one of eleven documentaries competing at the 2014 Irvine International Film Festival for “Best Documentary.” A total of over 50 films will be showcased at the prestigious Orange County film festival which will also, this year, be honoring John G. Avildsen, Oscar-winning director of Rocky, and actor Ed Asner.

Described by critics as “uplifting” and “the feel-good movie of the year,” Lion Ark is has been taking the film festival circuit by storm with sell out shows at Raindance London, Mill Valley Film Festival, and Starz Denver Film Festival. The film has been awarded Best Documentary at Sun & Sand Film & Music Festival Mississippi, Audience Choice Best Documentary at San Diego Film Festival, and an Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at Anchorage International Film Festival.

The film is that rare thing; an exciting, feel-good documentary about a serious issue. Lion Ark tells the story, using live action and interviews recorded as events unfolded, of how Bolivia’s ban on animals in circuses was secured, enforced and all the animals saved. The focus is the rescue of 25 lions, by Animal Defenders International, from 8 different circuses in Bolivia and their dramatic airlift to freedom in a sanctuary in Colorado.

What is engaging audiences in a new way is that Lion Ark is more action adventure style than traditional documentary with viewers right in the thick of the animal rescues and a joyous finale.

The film has also earned praise from the New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, and numerous film critics.

The rescue was funded by Emmy award-winning TV host Bob Barker who, together with Lion Ark Associate Producer, ADI Ambassador and CSI actress Jorja Fox appears in the film and explains the reasons for the rescue and their feelings about the arrival of the lions.

Lion Ark screens at Irvine International Film Festival on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:00pm (Laguna Hills Cinema).

Tim Phillips, Director of Lion Ark says: “Lion Ark gives a real sense of what it is like to be involved in a major animal rescue, you are in there with the rescuers, feeling their fears when things are going wrong and the elation as animals are saved. This is not retrospective, this is the story as it unfolded, told by those who were there. The stars are the 25 magnificent lions, people get a real sense of the characters of these animals and see how their lives are transformed during the course of the film. The response from audiences has been fantastic.”



High resolution stills from Lion Ark and broadcast quality one minute clips of scenes are available on request.

See the Lion Ark Trailer online at:

Lori De Waal, 323-462-4122
ADI Films Media Desk 323-804-9920

JANUARY 14th: Irvine International Film Festival
8:00pm at Laguna Hills Cinema
24155 Laguna Hills Mall Road Laguna Hills, CA 92653
$10. Click here for ticket information.

“a spunky account of a perilous rescue mission...Lion Ark proceeds with refreshing unpredictability.”
– Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

“Compelling cinema verité”
– Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“If you enjoy movies filled with suspense, thrills, surprises, adventure and action, put Lion Ark on your must-see list. For me, Lion Ark is the feel-good movie of the year!”
– Betty Jo Tucker, Reel Talk

“heartwarming, beautiful and inspirational. It reminds you of the majestic power of documentary filmmaking and it’s ability to stir true emotion.”
– Justin Bozung, Shock Cinema Magazine / Mondo Film & Video Guide

“…this film should be a target for this year’s Oscars. Excellent.”
– ACED Magazine
“Lion Ark is through and through entertaining…be ready for some up-tempo action-adventure of the most thrilling variety: real-life.”
– Stark Insider

“thoroughly rewarding...”
– TV and Film Review

“Lion Ark is an awe-inspiring journey that grips and engages”
– Britflicks

“Lion Ark takes an already incredible and unforgettable story and breathes life and passion and transformation into of your must-see films of 2013.”
– The Independent Critic

“A consciousness-raising milestone of a documentary”
– Edgar Vaid, The Ecologist

“will restore some faith in humanity”
– JM Willis,

“Lion Ark is a film that will grab your attention and your heart”
– Alexis Higgins, CMR Movie Reviews and News

“ultimately an uplifting story. It’s a revealing documentary with a lot of heart.”
– Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film

“AMAZING! Viewers will be crying tears of joy throughout...”
– Renee Snyder, International Animal Welfare Examiner, The Examiner

More reviews and links to all above reviews are available here

- Irvine International Film Festival
The Irvine International Film Festival (IIFF) celebrates the power of individual expression and diverse points of views. IIFF is dedicated to bringing to Orange County the finest films from around the world.

- Film Festival Selections
Winner Best Documentary (Jury Award), Sun & Sand Film & Music Festival
Winner Audience Choice Best Documentary, San Diego Film Festival
Official Selection Raindance Film Festival, London
Official Selection Mill Valley Film Festival
Official Selection Hawaii International Film Festival
Official Selection Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
Official Selection Virginia Film Festival
Official Selection Starz Denver Film Festival
Official Selection Irvine International Film Festival
Official Selection Beloit International Film Festival

© Animal Defenders International 2019