King of Beasts
Tomer Almagor, Nadav Harel
USA. 2018. 86 min
The directors are careful to be even-handed in their portrayal of their main protagonist Aaron Neilson, a burly thirtysomething dude with bulging tattooed muscles and what he himself describes as an “A-type personality.” Working as a hunting guide in Colorado, Neilson — whose living room she shares with several stuffed big cats, diorama-style — clearly lives for his trips to Tanzania, where he goes after his prey with steely determination and considerable patience.
Indeed, the actual moments of violent death in King of Beasts are few and far between: First to bite the dust is a buffalo, just before the half-hour mark, whose carcass provides dinner for Neilson, his safari companeros and their entourage of paid native servants, and also serves as bait for the crew’s bigger targets. A hippo is also slain for the latter purpose, setting us up for the climactic encounter with the king of the jungle, an “old lion” who shows up just after the hour mark, and whom Neilson goes after using the old-school method of bow and arrow.
As well as shedding light on the mechanics of safari hunting — which involves a lot of patience, waiting and downtime — King of Beasts illuminates as an exploration of masculine self-image (Neilson evidently sees himself as heroic and Hemingway-esque) and of how macho hombres engage with each other in close-quarters situations. One of Neilson’s party is a greenhorned younger fellow mainly employed to flatteringly record Neilson’s exploits for posterity via video in a series of carefully staged tableaux.
Award-winning filmmaker Tomer Almagor wrote and directed the critically acclaimed 9 FULL MOONS starring Amy Seimetz, Bret Roberts, Donal Logue & Harry Dean Stanton. His recent work includes directing the documentary KING OF BEASTS, and producing YOU ARE HERE starring Billy Baldwin and Lea Thompson, HAPPY TIMES starring Michael Aloni & Stefi Celma and TIGER WITHIN starring Ed Asner. His work screened at Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW & Rotterdam film festival, found critical acclaim and sold for distribution worldwide. Tomer is a partner and the creative director at URBAN TALES PRODUCTIONS, where he and his partner are producing a slate of films, including Tomer’s new film project RECIPROCAL BEAT.
Tomer Almagor : firstname.lastname@example.org