Naya is a short film following the life of a wolf, nicknamed Naya, who was fitted with a GPS tracker as part of an academic study, and found fame as the first wolf in Flanders in 100 years.
The film is composed of CCTV and other surveillance footage. As Naya travels from Germany to Holland, we follow her through the myriad byways lined with cameras. The subtitle, Der Wald Hat Tausend Augen, translates as ‘the wild has a thousand eyes’. At the beginning of the film we are told it is from an old German hunters’ expression, “In the wild, you are never alone. One pair of eyes stares into the forest, a thousand eyes stare back at you”, but it also used here to show how our surveillance society is not only impacting human beings, but others species as well. Much has been made about the detrimental effect of surveillance, whether it be from the state, private companies, or our own omnipresent recording of each others’ lives, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it framed as yet another harmful intrusion into nature. While we have long been warned about expanding urbanisation and dehabitation, this is the first time I’ve really thought about how the human gaze is being pushed further and further into every corner of the wild, and the risk that puts on those who inhabit it.
Naya is fitted with a GPS tracking collar by well-meaning but short-sighted researchers, who are only looking to learn about wolf migration patterns. Naya travels over a thousand miles to settle in territory in Flanders, and the story makes the news. As a Valentines fluff piece, the story goes out that Naya is a lone young female looking to mate and that this could mean the return of wolves to the area after 100 years. Naya becomes a local celebrity, with numerous false sightings, and the surrounding woodland being peppered with spycams. People start going on more rambles, traipsing through the forest on wolf tours, in hope of seeing Naya. And before much longer, every guy with a small dick complex shows up to shoot her, and bag themselves a wolfskin trophy.
A short film that provides a lot for thought, about our technological life as part of the ecosystem, and of the violence of our gaze.