The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

When Lambs Become Lions

When Lambs Become Lions poster

Jon Kasbe takes viewers on a deep dive into the African ivory trade with his striking documentary When Lambs Become Lions.

A small-time ivory dealer fights to stay on top of his trade while forces mobilize to destroy it. When he propositions his younger cousin, who happens to be a conflicted and unpaid wildlife ranger, they both see a possible lifeline. Exploring the alarming impact poaching has on Africa’s elephant population, the film raises several questions: what is the value of an elephant’s life relative to a human’s? Can we understand these hunters who will risk death, arrest, and the moral outrage of the world to provide for their families?

Taking place over a three-year period, When Lambs Become Lions is a rare look through the perspectives of the people at the epicenter of the conservation divide.


“…supple, complex, and darkly gorgeous.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist

“Kasbe turns a study of men driven to desperate measures into an unexpectedly lively and crackling drama […] about the system that causes it to persist, and in offering a ground-level view of the seemingly futile fight to protect animals, its consideration of the humans caught in the crossfire is quite compelling.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

When Lions Become Lambs
When Lambs Become Lions.