The Hyena Men
Produced, filmed and directed by: Andrew Graham-Brown
Film Editor: Ian Marsh
Executive producers: Bethan Corney and Richard Life
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This controversial film examines the clash between urban and wild and examines the paradoxical relationship that a Nigerian street gang called The Hyena Men have with their animals - sometimes affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel.
Myths surround Nigeria's Hyena Men. Many Africans believe they have magical powers and are even part animal. When they walk into town with their rock pythons, monkeys and hyenas in chains, the spectacle is overwhelming. Baboons dressed in Chelsea football strips turn somersaults, ride motorbikes and handle snakes while the men collect money, selling voodoo fetishes and charms amidst the chaos of Nigeria's grid-locked street.
'The Hyena Men' makes uncomfortable viewing. It reveals the extraordinary relationship between a Nigerian street gang and their wild-caught hyenas, baboons and pythons.Through immersive techniques of observational documentary, it shows how the wild finds its way into one the most choked cities on earth, and how families, born into poverty, become utterly dependent on animals for their survival.
It's the most challenging film that producer and director Andrew Graham-Brown has ever made. Under-cover and with no filming permit, he spent six weeks with a palm-sized camera in one of the world's most dangerous countries, winning the trust of a street gang that are reputed to be robbers, and who practice black magic. On many occasions, Andrew couldn't look down the view finder, though fear of being mobbed. He travelled down back-alleys where no cameraman has ever been, and crawled into Hyena dens to film cubs being removed from their mother. Much of the time he lived on a rubbish dump, but as time went by, he began to see beyond the violence and degradation, allowing his camera to intimately observe the bizarre bond between 'normal people' and animals, who just happen to be born into a 'dog eat dog world'.
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