Wildcat

Richmond-based filmmakers score a Prime deal.

An orphaned baby ocelot offers British war veteran Harry Turner a shot at redemption in Wildcat, the moving documentary from Richmond filmmakers Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, now on Amazon Prime.

Emotionally broken after a tour of Afghanistan, Turner retreats to Peru’s Amazon to volunteer at a wildlife rehab center where founder Samantha Zwicker charges him with raising the young cat and—in what would be a first—returning it to the wild. 

The Hollywood Reporter cited Wildcat’s “remarkable animal footage and potent emotion,” comparing it to the 1962 classic Born Free. And the dealmakers at Amazon snapped up the film for $20 million after it earned raves at film festivals in Aspen and Telluride and captivated audiences at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.  

“We owe so much to Virginia—Richmond and the James River, in particular—it’s where we met kayaking, and the subject of my first film,” says Lesh. “If it hadn’t been for living in Virginia, we could never have afforded to make this film.”  

Frost and Lesh are opening a wildlife filmmaking hub in Richmond, where they plan to develop their own projects while mentoring the next generation of conservation filmmakers.


This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue.

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