Harry, a British Afghan war vet crippled by depression and PTSD, arrives at an animal rescue program deep in the Peruvian jungle and finds solace while nurturing an orphaned baby ocelot whom he is preparing for reentry into the wild. He’s assisted by the project’s creator Samantha—-a brilliant, academically trained American conservationist with her own anguished family history. They soon strike a romance, driven by a cause, but also hampered by past psychological scars and trauma. As Harry begins taking steps toward emotional health, he finds the jungle a brutal proving ground, with poachers, clear-cutters, and non-human predators all around, and loneliness stalking his psyche. Harry needs the animals as desperately as the animals need him, and even they may not be enough.
While supplying a ravishing landscape and wildlife imagery and a taut story, producer-directors Trevor Beck Frost and Melissa Lesh, who lived in the Amazon jungle for several months with both Harry and Samantha, have created something more impressive: a compelling and sometimes harrowing psychological documentary of two people who are living, in every conceivable sense, on the edge. World premiering at Telluride, where it wowed audiences, WILDCAT is a humanist tale that has unmistakable appeal to animal lovers, as well as admirers of astonishing true-life stories.