The first Ireland Wildlife Film Festival was held at University College Cork yesterday, 14th of September 2019. 56 submissions came from 21 countries resulting in a great collection of films in three categories, Feature Film, Short Film and International Student Short Film, and I was asked to be a judge!
The Ireland Wildlife Film Festival was the first of its kind in Ireland and seeks to bring stories of conservation and species preservation to the big screen while also striving to create a community of filmmakers and audience members who care deeply about environmental issues.
The best Feature Film will receive 500 Euro and laurels.
The best International Student Film will receive 200 Euro and laurels.
The best Short Film will receive 300 Euro and Laurels.
The best film of the festival will receive the "Best of Fest" award and can come from any category. The "Best of Fest" will receive a trophy and laurel in addition to the prizes associated with their respected category of submission.
Winner: Our Oceans: A Journey of Discovery Wild Oceans/Off The Fence, South Africa
Lauren van Nijkerk,
Viki Van Den Barselaar,
Our Oceans are in a state of crisis, and we’re the ones responsible for it. A team of scientists, divers and photographers set out on a journey of discovery along one of the longest, and richest, coastlines in the world. Along the way they unveil three incredible natural events to the world, whilst highlighting the impending threats, and all the while promoting the protection of our oceans.
"Our Oceans has been a rollercoaster ride. I've met incredible people, travelled to breathtaking locations and I've been lucky enough to work with a group of really talented young South African filmmakers who are passionate about their natural heritage. It's been a great adventure but it's also has been a wakeup call, a warning that our oceans are in desperate need of our attention, they cannot sustain the pressure we as humans continue to exert on them. I'm excited about sharing this film with audiences around the world and I hope it inspires action." Charlie Luckock
Birth of a Pride
Wildlife Films/National Geographic, South Africa/Botswana
In Selinda, Botswana, lions had been hunted to near extinction but, thanks to conservation, the number of lions has grown from two to over sixty. Witness an incredible and heartwarming story of survival through the eyes of the lions that beat the odds. Follow six cubs as they navigate the world and learn to hunt, socialise and survive in the now flourishing wilderness.
Elephants up close - Dangerous neighbours
Zorilla Film/NDR Naturfilm/Doclights, Germany
Director/Producer/Camera; Britta Kiesewetter,
Elephants are the largest mammals that migrate across our earth. On the savannahs of Botswana there are still thousands of them. Their extraordinary sensitivity and social ties are the basis of their survival. But Africa's elephants are heading for an uncertain future. Where their paths cross with those of humans, worlds collide and conflicts are not uncommon.
What do we really know about them? And is there a common future for elephants and humans?
For more than two years, the award-winning wildlife filmmakers Thoralf Grospitz and Jens Westphalen travelled through southern Africa, ever/always on the heels of the pachyderms. With their two-part series "Elephants up close", they draw a complex picture of this 'icon of Africa' and give intimate insights into the life of the largest land mammals on earth.
One in a Thousand nautilusfilm, Germany
Jan Haft, Director Biography/Writer; Melanie Haft,
Intact ecosystems provide the best defence against climate change! The ecosystem of a small creek is complex and divers - the shocking reality is that in Central Europe only "ONE IN A THOUSAND" is still intact, today.
Save The Bucardo
Palocha Productions, Spain
Pablo Lozano, Director Biography/Writer/Producer
"Save the Bucardo" is the story of scientists who fought to save an emblematic animal of the Pyrenees, the Bucardo, from extinction. They took a historic step in science, the first de-extinction in the world, the first real “Jurassic Park”."
Save the bucardo" took four years of work and tells the amazing struggle of some people to avoid the extinction of an emblematic animal, the bucardo. This effort led to a new step in science, the first des-extinction in history. We hope this story will be the memory of a lesson not to be forgotten." Pablo Lozano
White Wolves - Ghosts of the Arctic Gulo Film/Doclights/NDR Naturfilm, Germany.
Producer; Alain Lusignan,
At the very northern edge of Canada is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Running through this shifting sea of snow and ice is one of the most hardened predators on the planet, the Arctic Wolf. But as the spring melt approaches, these roaming hunters must adapt to being tethered parents as new additions to the pack have just been born.
With never-before-seen footage of wolf family life, Ghosts of the Arctic is a dramatic and touching story of loyalty, companionship and devotion. It’s an epic true tale that reveals the struggles and triumphs of a family working to survive in one of the last great wildernesses on Earth.
"White Wolves - Ghosts of the Arctic" is the first full length Natural History documentary on arctic wolves, which shows in detail their astonishing cooperation and dedication to raise their pups in this harsh arctic environment on Ellesmere Island.
It was important to me to show the full behaviour of wolves out there - also some hard to watch sequences - not to shock and disturb, but to get a clear and true picture of the hardships wolves have to face up in the North and through this I hope our film will be able to create respect and admiration for those wolves and wolves in general.
BECAUSE THEY ARE ADMIRABLE !!! DEFINITELY THE MOST FASCINATING ANIMALS WE HAVE EVER FILMED." Oliver Goetzl
Winner: Stolen Apes Woodgrain Media, USA
Colin Sytsma, Director/Producer/Writer.
After a sting operation in Bangkok for two trafficked Orangutans leave those accountable with no consequence Daniel Stiles, a detective in the illegal wildlife trade, thinks of new ways to combat illegal great ape trafficking.
Roadkill – The overlooked slaughter
Comunità Montana Valli del Verbano,
By excluding natural elements from our everyday lives, we have dissolved our emotional bonds with non-human animals, plants, and the habitats they live in. We have alienated ourselves from biodiversity. An example? Millions of sentient beings killed every year by vehicles along our roads. Deer, toads, blackbirds.... This phenomenon is known in the scientific world as ‘roadkill’, and it is of global significance.
The Last Herd
In the contiguous United States, wild bison are no longer free-roaming. With low natural mortality rates, the few wild herds that do exist are annually culled, or fenced in to control their population. Others, such as those is Yellowstone National Park, are rounded up when they leave Park boundaries due to brucellosis a disease that may be transmitted to cattle.
The Henry Mountains bison represent the last genetically pure and brucellosis-free herd that roams over a large area –over 385,000 acres without fences, culling, or roundups.
Despite all this space, Henry Mountains Bison are caught within a complex web of public lands, grass, ranching, and government agencies. The Last Herd, an independent conservation film, documents this delicate balance and provides an example of how free-roaming bison and private interests can co-exist.
Winner: The Grind Message Nolsoy Productions, Denmark
Niels Christian Askholm,
Sara Nedergaard Askholm,
Pilot whale hunting has been a practiced tradition for at least half a millennium in the Faroe Islands. Up until the second half of the 20th century the hunts have been a vital part in the survival of the Faroese people, and are today the source of up to one third of the nations meat consumption. However the long-lasting tradition is subject to criticism from all over the world due to several reasons and opinions. This documentary follows the arguments of six locals on the matter.
Now or Never
MS Productions/National Film and Television School (NFTS), UK
Director, Producer and Cinematographer; Patrick Aryee,
Sound Designer; Adam Price,
Now Or Never tells the story of the Batang Toru Forest, which lies in North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is a forest like no other, and remains largely unexplored. Batang Toru is also the one and only home for the most endangered great ape species in the world – the newly identified Tapanuli Orangutans.
For thousands of years these orangutans have experienced a tranquil existence in this rich rainforest, alongside countless other fascinating species. The local people living adjacent to Batang Toru have also lived comfortably for generations, surviving from the precious water created by the forest. But now, everything is changing…
The global population is growing, and the natural world is suffering, including Batang Toru. Plans have been put in place for a human development to be built in the heart of Batang Toru, where the highest number of Tapanuli Orangutans reside. If it is built, it will affect countless human lives who rely on the forest, as well as push this newly identified orangutan species closer towards extinction.
The time to act and save Batang Toru is Now, Or Never again will we be living in a world with a third orangutan species.
"When I first read an article declaring a new species of orangutan, I was amazed that in the 21st Century new species of great apes were still being identified. It just goes to show that there is so much out there in the natural world left to be discovered, a lot of which we will never come to know about.
But there are two sides to every coin, and as incredible as it is that these apes have been recognised as a new species, the article also pointed out that they could soon vanish due to a human development being built in their only home – The Batang Toru Forest in Indonesia.
The story behind Now Or Never does not simply revolve around the orangutans, but rather, all of the people of the Tapanuli region that rely so heavily on the Batang Toru Forest. Like all rainforests, Batang Toru is a key component in the prevention of climate change, but it is also valuable for its role in producing water, and countless lives in all shapes and forms depend on this one forest.
The Now Or Never journey began by contacting the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), who are the only organisation conducting research within the Batang Toru Forest. The people at SOCP were quite incredible in the support they showed me and the belief they had in me to allow me to visit Batang Toru and make Now Or Never a reality.
Shot over 6 weeks, and produced throughout 2018, this production would not have been possible without the approval and support of the National Film and Television School and collaborative spirit of every member from the Now Or Never team. With the long hours and weekends that Mirjam (editor), Adam (composer), Kevin (sound designer), and Alex (marketing) spent working on the film, showing their never-ending commitment and enthusiasm throughout, it is safe to say there would not be a Now Or Never without this amazing team forming such a close relationship.
The dedication, belief, and generosity shown by the entire SOCP team in Sumatra is also what brought this film to life. Whilst on location, every request or question was never too much. They were always happy to help, and I left Sumatra in July having made friends for life.
Everyone’s tireless commitment created this film, and I will always be immensely grateful to each and every one of those people."
The Coral Keepers
Fat Panda Productions, USA
Eilish M. Nobes,
Director/Producer; Darlien Morales
Director/Producer/Cinematographer; Kyle Maddux-Lawrence, Cinematographer; Liz Kraiser, Editor
How can ordinary people appreciate the life-sustaining force of the oceans when most of us don’t
dive beneath the surface? A nonprofit in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has taken
on this question by training youth to become scientific divers. The students in Dive-N2-Life have
a passion for conservation born from assisting with research on everything from the ecological
role of sharks to a devastating coral disease that has broken out in the Keys.
Winner: The Grind Message Nolsoy Productions, Denmark
Niels Christian Askholm,
Sara Nedergaard Askholm,
A special congratulations to Niels Christian Askholm whose film had the best score overall and was the winner of the 'Best of Fest' Award as well as the 'Best Student Short Film'. His film, "The Grind Message", raises crucial awareness to the inhumane treatment and slaughter of Pilot Whales in the Faroe Islands. This is a must watch short film for anyone that lives in the Faroe Islands, and has a message that resounds globally about our harsh treatment of the animals we share this amazing planet with.
Wildlife-film.com congratulates all of the finalsists and winners.
A special mention for White Wolves - Ghosts of the Arctic by Gulo Film/Oliver Goetzl ... It is a fabulous film and was highly praised by the judges for it's cinematography and fascinating first-filmed behaviours!
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