After its successful launch in Durban in 2006 and equally successful iterations in 2007, 2009 and 2011, South Africa’s premier Wildlife Film Festival and Conference, WILD TALK AFRICA, returns to Durban in July this year. The event will take place from the 23-26th July within the same month as the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) and The Durban Filmmart. This gathering of film industry events will work towards turning Durban’s golden mile into the southern hemisphere’s own version of Cannes – the world capital for film markets and festivals. Like Cannes, Durban has all the necessary infrastructure to handle a collaborative effort of this nature, with the added advantages of the warm water beaches, affordable hotels, convenient cinema complexes nearby and uShaka Marine World which hosts the largest collection of West Indian Ocean species in the world. Post festival attractions include conveniently located game reserves, Kwa-Zulu Natal’s beautiful heritage sites and array of ocean activities.
Disneynature’s Chimpanzee tells the story of Oscar, an orphan chimpanzee, adopted and raised by elder male Freddy – an unusual relationship never caught on film before. But this remarkable story set in the dense rainforest of the Tai Forest National Park in Ivory Coast very nearly didn’t make it to the big screen. “I’d filmed monkeys in that forest before and it was incredibly challenging,” explains Director/ Producer Mark Linfield. “In fact when [cameraman] Martyn [Colbeck] and I left that shoot we pretty much whooped for joy. We both looked at each other and said thank God we never have to come back here.” Less than 10 years later Mark found himself back in the same forest recce’ing for Chimpanzee.
I attended a talk on the 27th Feb at the Frontline Club entitled “Unprepared, inexperienced and in a war zone” which has started a discussion about the safety of journalists, documentary makers and camera men in conflict zones and how the industry must do more to protect them.
This is going to be a difficult discussion that should have been started years ago but has been bought to the fore by the terrible conditions in Syria, Mexico and Somalia and the terrible risks that freelancers are taking with little or no training. I think it boils down to one issue and that is ££££. It costs money to do these courses.
So what we’re proposing is 6 times a year to run a 2 day course at The Artist Rifles Clubhouse in Bisley, Surrey for £400 covering the subjects below and giving freelancers a tick in the box.
This special award for Wildlife in HD Video will be awarded to the most inspirational and dynamic film (up to ninety seconds), which clearly illustrates the unique power of moving images as a medium for capturing British Wildlife.
The winner will be presented their award at the Awards Ceremony and launch of the touring exhibition at the prestigious Mall Galleries, London in September 2013. www.mallgalleries.org.uk
The film will be on shown at galleries around the UK and featured in the stunning coffee table book, as a series of ‘still’ images.
Over the shoulder seal by John Moncrieff
The key aim of the Awards is to recognise the talents of photographers and videographers practicing in the UK, while at the same time highlight the great wealth and diversity of British Natural History, in all its beauty and diversity.
In the week of the tragic violent shooting at the school in Connecticut, USA, it so happens the following “wildlife” programmes were shown on Sky - National Geographic and Discovery, Animal Planet and often repeated several times. The titles say it all: “Snakeskin – Venomous snake attacks a family dog” “Bear Woman – A 21 stone mother bear charges a tree surgeon” “Ultimate Killers” “Untamed and Uncut” “Monster Bug Wars” ”Bite of the Living Dead” “Austin Stevens: Most Dangerous” “Hunt for the River Monster” “Killer Elephants” “City Shark Attacks” “Shark Attack Summer” “Sydney Shark Attack” “World’s Deadliest Animals” “Extreme Animal Attacks” “Killer Tigers” “Battle of the Swamp Pride” “Lion vs Cheetah” “Man v Monster – A Winged Killer in Indonesia” “Lion Ganglands” “Winged Assassin” “Mekong Flesh-Eater” “Man-Eating Menace” “Beast Man” “When Animals Bite Back” “When Fish Attack” “Amazon River Beast” You’ve probably got the idea.
There was even a promo for A Killing Christmas - ? The best (worst?), that was understandably cancelled in the light of the school shooting.
Surely these (mainly) American made products can only encourage violent attitudes in both young and old. Their makers claim they need such output for the ratings. But do they consider a much wider aspect that is now being discussed across the world, especially in the USA? Do they feel responsible for the results of their programmes, which affect our attitudes to wildlife? Who are these people making the stuff?
These kind of films degrade not only the animals but the makers themselves. Nature porn?
Miniature camera specialists SeeSense have supplied a Toshiba IK-HR1S 1/3” 1-CMOS High Definition camera system to enable natural history documentary makers AGB Films to record the early development of a Joey within its mother's pouch.
The Toshiba camera, lens and specially modified light source was inserted into the tight and dark confines of Ella the Red Kangaroo’s pouch without harming the 1.5m mother or its Joey named Nigel.
The camera was in the pouch for short periods of time so as not to disturb the animals.
SeeSeense MD Nigel Paine commented “This is believed to be the first time a young Joey has been filmed in high definition in this way. The LED light pad runs cool and so will never harm the contents of mum's pouch! And what a great choice of name!!”
Andrew Graham-Brown of AGB Films commented, “The camera has been brilliant. It's given us a window into the secret life of a female Kangaroo's pouch.”
SeeSense can implement special adaptations of the Toshiba miniature HD camera range for customers’ specific requirements. AGB Films used the camera as part of the BBC Natural History Unit’s critically acclaimed documentary Kangaroo Dundeecurrently airing on BBC Two, Part 2 Saturday 2nd February.
Review of “CHIMPANZEE” Disneynature
by Richard Brock
It all depends on whether you like names given to your animals.
Way back, Hugo van Lawick made a ground-breaking film in Tanzania about a family of African wild dogs (The Wild Dogs of Africa). It featured a “character” called Solo but the new idea came a little unstuck when other named members of the pack, like “Torn Ear” or “Bent Tail” suddenly weren’t torn or bent. Most of the audience probably didn’t notice then, but they probably would today.
Subsequently Jane Goodall made her name, and those of lots of chimps, at Gombe. She had been married to Hugo von Lawick, and the chimps “personalised” stories advanced the style and her films were very popular and, as it turned out, scientifically important. The lives of the individual chimps continue to be monitored by a devoted team, though their Gombe home is now confined to a smaller area as the inevitable African people pressure increases in that part of Tanzania.
Fast forward, in evolution, with those chimps, now with their own film crews, investigating the private lives of the human equivalent. The BBC crew already have names, perhaps “Torn Ear”, but I’m not sure about “Bent Tail”. Tom, Dick and Harry, yes, and even a David, as seen filming with my good friend, sound recordist Dickie Bird (really).
Now we have a new “improved” (?) version from Disneynature. As I say, it all depends on whether you like humanised animals. Or not.
RSPO FAILS TO ACT AS MUARA TAE IS DESTROYED
International body’s credibility called into question
7th November 2012
The credibility of the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been called into question over its failure to act against a company bulldozing ancestral forests and perpetrating human rights abuses in Indonesia.
First Resources Ltd has submitted documents to the RSPO falsely claiming that its subsidiary PT Borneo Surya Mining Jaya (PT Borneo) obtained the consent of local communities for an oil palm plantation on their land in Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan. The documents also claim PT Borneo did not begin operating before conducting Social and Environmental Impact Assessments in line with its obligations as an RSPO member.
But at the same time, PT Borneo was bulldozing farmland and forests belonging to the indigenous community of Muara Tae, assisted by the intimidation of armed police brought in to protect the company.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today called the RSPO’s failure to act a disgrace and released a new film, Manufacturing Consent, featuring evidence and first-hand testimony of PT Borneo’s abuses in Muara Tae.
EIA submitted a comprehensive complaint to the RSPO on October 17, outlining First Resources’ breaches of the body’s Principles and Criteria and New Planting Procedure.
According to its own guidelines, the RSPO should have determined whether the complaint was legitimate within two weeks of its submission to its Grievance Panel.
Accepting the complaint as legitimate would have obligated First Resources to cease operating in Muara Tae until the dispute was resolved. However, the RSPO secretariat has to date not done so and has repeatedly failed to inform EIA of the deadline for its decision, three weeks after receiving the complaint.
Masrani, the Petinggi (village head) of Muara Tae, attended the RSPO’s annual roundtable in Singapore last week. At the meeting, both Bambang Dwi Laksono, Corporate Head of Sustainability at First Resources, and Ravin Krishnan, RSPO complaints coordinator, encouraged the community to enter into dialogue with the company.
However, in meetings with First Resources during the past two years, the community has repeatedly rejected the proposed plantation, a view which has been entirely ignored. Indeed, while offering the prospect of dialogue to Masrani in Singapore, First Resources was simultaneously preparing to bulldoze his father’s land.
The film Manufacturing Consent, demonstrates how the community has consistently rejected the overtures of First Resources; the testimony provides prima facie evidence that First Resources made false and misleading claims in documents submitted to the RSPO.
Manufacturing Consent also lays bare the impact that First Resources’ land-grab is having on the lives of the people of Muara Tae.
Faith Doherty, Head of Forests Campaign at EIA, said: “It’s disgraceful that the RSPO has failed to take any meaningful action and farcical that it believes First Resources can be trusted to carry out fair negotiations with the community while it has been utterly disingenuous with the RSPO itself. What sort of dialogue are they expected to have in the presence of armed police?
“The fact that First Resources has the audacity to submit phony documents, carry on destroying community forests without a shred of consent and then turn up at the RSPO roundtable poses some very serious questions about the credibility of the RSPO. Clearly, First Resources doesn’t hold its grievance process in very high regard.”
Manufacturing Consent includes testimony from a number of villagers in Muara Tae:
Petrus Asuy, Muara Tae elder and customary landowner: “PT Borneo Surya Mining Jaya is destroying forests, depriving the rights of the indigenous peoples of Muara Tae, bringing BRIMOB [riot police] to intimidate people so they don’t defend their land. And they have violated our human rights, particularly by damaging the environment. Damaging the sources of spring water for the rivers that flow to Muara Tae and destroying the forest wood and traditional medicines that have been maintained by the community of Muara Tae.”
Andreas Singko, Muara Tae elder and customary landowner: “When Borneo Mining Jaya came to the village we all, in the name of the community, refused. Because the land was for us for farming, no more than that. And the forest that remains we will maintain, replanting forests so that they grow. So we are not ready to accept the presence of PT Borneo Mining Jaya.”
Pak Doh, Muara Tae customary landowner: “My land was seized by the company. I have never sold or handed over the land. I really love my land. This is a traditional society that does not know the kind of work offered by the company. I'm just living out of making fields, no other job. That’s what supports my children and my grandchildren.”
Pak Masrani, Village Leader of Muara Tae: “Any company that enters an area should adhere to the principles of FPIC [Free, Prior and Informed Consent]. That is, they should only enter with the consent of the community and without coercion, and the community should be given sufficient information by the company.
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