Dec 14

The Pedal-Powered Cinema Project – the world’s first pedal-powered field cinema – has been piloted by the Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI) during a tour of the Virunga Volcano region in southern Uganda.

Photo of female mountain gorilla

Initially launched in November 2010, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project is an innovative conservation initiative which screens films to teach people about the plight of gorillas and their natural habitat, raising awareness and promoting the need for conservation of this endangered species.

The project is an affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly way of bringing films for gorilla conservation to even the smallest and most rural of villages in Uganda.

Simple technology to provide sustainable solutions

The Pedal-Powered Cinema Project was developed by GAFI, in partnership with the Gorilla Organisation, and was built in collaboration with Electric Pedals.

The technology is simple, comprising two children’s mountain bikes and a single guitar amp to provide the sound. The back wheels of the stationary bikes are fed into a generator, which then powers the projector and sound system.

Photo of mountain gorilla being filmed in the wild

Mountain gorilla being filmed in the wild

12 months on…

A year later, the project continues to reach remote communities, bringing conservation education to villages with no electricity. For many people living in these otherwise isolated villages, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project provides the opportunity to gather together and watch a film, often for the first time.

In the 12 months since its launch, the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project roadshows have given around 43,000 children, as well as thousands of adults, the chance to attend a screening.

The awareness that these film screenings raise is a vital step in connecting the local communities with gorilla conservation issues.

Pedalling forward to the future

According to Madeleine Westwood, founder and director of GAFI, the simple technology used by the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project has the potential to transform conservation outreach, as well as many other initiatives that use film as an educational tool.

As a result of the resounding success of GAFI roadshows in Uganda, another conservation charity, Gearing up for Gorillas, have recently invested in a new Pedal-Powered Cinema which will be used mainly in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Photo of mountain gorilla infant

Wildscreen Outreach

Although Wildscreen, the charity behind ARKive, has yet to harness pedal-power to promote its message, it does have its own initiative to take wildlife film screenings and workshops to countries around the world.

Wildscreen Outreach is a touring programme of award-winning film screenings and masterclasses which aim to reach, engage and inspire new audiences – especially in developing countries, where pressure on the environment is most critical.

Find out more about the gorilla on ARKive.

Find out more about the Great Apes Film Initiative and the Pedal-Powered Cinema Project.

Find out more about the gorilla conservation charity Gearing up 4 Gorillas.

Read the Guardian blog article by writer David Hewitt, communications manager at the Gorilla Organization.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author