Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Winning streak for independent movie Lion Ark continues

Posted: 11 November 2015

Prize money is committed to saving more lions

November 10, 2015, COLUMBUS, IN - Lion Ark, the documentary about the rescue of 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia and their journey to freedom, has been voted the Audience Award out of all features at YES Film Festival in Columbus, Indiana.

Since Lion Ark first burst onto the scene at Raindance (London) and the California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival, it has been officially selected for over twenty film festivals across the US and Europe, been nominated for a prestigious NAACP Image Award for Outstanding International Motion Picture, racked up eleven awards and secured a worldwide distribution deal with ITV GE.

Described by critics as “uplifting” and “the feel-good movie of the year” Lion Ark charts the dramatic rescue of 25 lions from circuses across Bolivia and follows a team from Animal Defenders International as they track down and save animals from illegal circuses that defy a new law banning animal acts. The film culminates with the arrival of the lions at their new home in the USA.

The Yes Film Festival Audience Award comes with a $500 prize which has immediately been donated towards helping 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia reach a new life in South Africa before Christmas. The team behind Lion Ark have been recording the mission which has seen over 100 animals rescued and will culminate with
33 lions being flown by ADI to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa as a part of Operation Spirit of Freedom.

Tim Phillips, Director of Lion Ark: “We wanted to make a film about a serious issue that people would enjoy and would make them feel inspired to act. Lion Ark is up close and personal, in the heart of the action; we wanted people to enjoy the story while it delivers an important message, so it is very rewarding that of the eleven awards the film has won at festivals, seven have been audience votes.”

The annual YES FEST in Colombus Indiana showcases some of the best and most provocative new films over three days and this year included Stray Dog (which won the jury prize of Best Documentary), The Surface (Jury prize Best narrative Feature) and the acclaimed Tyke Elephant Outlaw.

Find out more about Lion Ark at

Winner Audience Award YES Film Festival
Winner Best Documentary Omaha International Film Festival
Winner People’s Choice Award, Boulder International Film Festival
Winner Best Documentary Alhambra Theatre Film Festival
Winner Audience Award Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival
Winner Audience Choice Best Documentary, San Diego Film Festival
Winner Audience Choice Environmental Film Sedona International Film Festival
Winner Audience Favorite Documentary Palm Beach International Film Festival
Winner Best Documentary Sun & Sand: The Mississippi Film & Music Festival
Winner The Animal Award, Cinema Verde Environmental Film & Arts Festival
Runner-up Audience Choice Best Documentary Anchorage International Film Festival
Nominated: Outstanding International Motion Picture, 45th NAACP Image Awards

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
Official Selection Crossroads Festival for Documentary Film and Discourse, Austria

“Compelling cinema verité” – The Hollywood Reporter
“The feel-good movie of the year!” – Reel Talk
“Refreshing” - The New York Times
“Unmissable! FIVE STARS” – Britflicks
“A consciousness-raising milestone of a documentary” – The Ecologist
“Up-tempo action-adventure of the most thrilling variety: real-life.” – Stark Insider
“…thoroughly rewarding” – TV and Film Review
“One of your must-see films” – The Independent Critic
“Will restore some faith in humanity.” –
“… heartwarming, beautiful and inspirational. It reminds you of the majestic power of documentary filmmaking...” –Shock Cinema Magazine / Mondo Film & Video Guide
“AMAZING! Viewers will be crying tears of joy throughout….” – Renee Snyder, International Animal Welfare Examiner, The Ex

Lori De Waal 818-817-4444
ADI Films Media Desk 323-804-9920

© Animal Defenders International 2019