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Keep up to date with the latest Wildlife Film Production and Industry News.

Saving Rhino Phila wins Panda Award at Wildscreen

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NHU Africa’s Saving Rhino Phila wins Panda Award

NHU Africa’s production, Saving Rhino Phila has won a prestigious Panda Award for best film in the Nature Conservancy Enviornment and Conservation category at the Wildscreen Film Festival in Bristol, UK. The Wildscreen festival is the longest standing and most respected wildlife film festival in the world, drawing top names from broadcasters like Animal Planet, Discovery and National Geographic. The film was commissioned by NHU Africa and produced by Triosphere and directed by Richard Slater-Jones.

The film was steered from conception to completion by NHU Africa’s commissioning editor and creative director Vyv Simson, who had this to say about last night’s accomplishment; “Winning a Panda Award at Wildscreen is about as good as it gets in this business. I’m so pleased and so proud of everyone who has worked so hard. This award has placed the whole of the South African wildlife film making industry centre stage.”

Oloff Bergh, producer from Triosphere was also extremely pleased to recieve the award, and explained initial motivation for the film; “As a team of passionate wildlife filmmakers and conservationists, we were desperate to bring the world’s attention to the mass slaughter of South Africa’s rhinos. But, we had to create a concept which would appeal to international audiences. Just another news piece about “the war on rhinos” was not going to have an impact. Phila’s tragic ordeal presented the ideal opportunity to tell one rhino’s story in a personalized yet compelling and informative way. Winning the Panda award for Saving Rhino Phila not only gives deserved recognition to the highly talented, committed and passionate team that produced the film – but it accentuates the original objective of drawing the world’s attention to the plight of rhinos in South Africa.”

Saving Rhino Phila is a 52min documentary that tells the harrowing tale of Phila, who survived being shot nine times on two separate occasions in attempts to kill her for her horn. It is a powerful story that identifies the individual struggles of both owners and rhinos in the ongoing battle to keep the species from falling prey to the persistent and brutal attacks by poachers. Saving Rhino Phila set out to educate people about this through the use of dramatic recreations and the compelling struggle for survival against the odds by heroine Phila. According to director Slater-Jones, the film is meant to “Hit the audience between the eyes” and hopefully stem the tide of demand for rhino horn on an international level.

Watch the Saving Rhino Phila trailer HERE

Learn more about NHU Africa at www.nhuafrica.com 

Saving Rhino Phila is available for purchase on Kalarai.com

Save our Seabirds Festival flies high in Cape Town

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According to Birdlife South Africa, seabirds are the most threatened group of birds in the world. It’s quite a thing to fathom if you imagine the sheer quantities of birds associated with the oceans; from huge colonies of penguins and flocks of seagulls to the lone albatross soaring through the upper reaches of the sky.

It is therefore highly commendable that Birdlife South Africa’s Seabird Division organizes the annual SOS Festival, which aims to educate the public about the threats to marine environment, and inspire people to get involved and make a difference.

There will be Marine Conservation lectures by prominent conservationists at the Iziko South African Museum on the 8th, 10th and 12th October as well as the beautiful Oceans of Conservation Photographic Competition which will run for the next 2 months.

On Saturday Freshly Ground will play at a special benefit concert at the V & A Waterfront, and all proceeds from the concert will be donated to Birdlife South Africa, which is a great reason to support these talented young musicians.

Then on Sunday there is the Simon’s Town Penguin Festival, which will have all kinds of things to see, such as a reptile and raptor exhibition, a cooking demonstration by celebrity SASSI chef and a penguin release.

There is lots more going on over the course of the week, which is in fact National Marine Week. So do your bit for the oceans and those that are dependent on them (ourselves included) and go and support this excellent festival.

For more information go to www.sosfestival.co.za

or contact Birdlife South Africa directly:

Tel: +27 (0)11 789 1122 

Web: www.birdlife.org.za 

An Intrepid Otto

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Otto Whitehead is an interesting character. Part student, scientist, photographer, intrepid traveller and someone with a deep appreciation for the wildnerness. He recently spent a year on Marion island studying macaroni and rockhopper penguins for his Masters degree at UCT. On those windswept and icy shores of the sub-antarctic island, he was able to marry his passion for nature with a burgeoning love for film. The results are pretty impressive and the reason why NHU Africa’s Chris Mason pinned him down between trips to discuss his connection to documenting nature. All images by Otto.

CM: What got you interested in filming the natural world?

OW: I’ve always had a desire to share how I feel about and see the natural world with other people, but I’ve found it incredibly hard to convey to someone why you love something without them actually experiencing it for themselves. Because Marion Island is so remote and inaccessible to most, film was the best way for me to share my experience with friends, family and strangers back in SA, and so my interest was born.

A Southern elephant seal bull taking some time out

A wandering albatross sits patiently on her egg

 

    

Which came first, a passion for nature or film?

Definitely a passion for nature. In the beginning I perceived  film simply as a medium through which I could communicate my passion, but then it drew me deeper and deeper into its territory and I realised just how multifaceted it actually is. I’ve still got so much to learn and that excites me!

Rockhopper penguin

What were you doing on Marion Island?

Previously nobody knew where macaroni and rockhopper penguins foraged during the summer breeding season at Marion Island. I spent the summer putting on and taking off little devices that tell us where they go and how they dive. It’s really important that we know this information so that we can continue to monitor their foraging behaviour in the context of ecosystem changes in the Southern Ocean. My work also involved carrying out annual census and monitoring work for Oceans & Coasts and Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

Where are you now and what are you doing?

I just got back to the beautiful Cape after backpacking my way through Norway and Sweden, and then tomorrow I’m whizzing off again, but this time to spend a few weeks on Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic Ocean working with Northern rockhopper penguins.

Who/what have been your biggest influences in approaching filming and documenting the natural world.

Sir David Attenborough’s enthusiasm for the natural world and the world-class footage and editing of the BBC Nature crew has been hugely influential. It is because of them that I lust over nature documentaries. They illustrate the stories of individual creatures so intimately and it makes one realise that there are millions of other stories out there just waiting to be captured. They’re also at the forefront of techniques in wildlife film and I’ve been really impressed with their timelapse and macro footage in recent series.

What are some of the challenges?

Storyboarding and editing. There is such an art to this process and I’m finding it quite challenging to piece together my Marion footage, especially on my little laptop. Just another learning curve I suppose.

The coastal cliffs of Marion Island

Where are you from?

I grew up in the humidity of Durban and then migrated to the cooler pastures of the Cape to study at UCT.

Describe the most challenging moment you faced on Marion Island?

A single moment is hard to pick out, but working in harsh weather conditions, mostly on your own, challenged me psychologically. The wind regularly gets up to 100 km/h and is often coupled with rain or ice pellets. When you have to walk all day whilst trying to work in such conditions it can get quite frustrating, but you’ve just got to keep your mind strong and envision the warm hot chocolate with rusks that you’ll have when you reach the hut.

Do you have a specific affinity for any animals in particular?

It’s quite common for scientist’s to fall in love with their study subjects, and I definitely fell head over heels in love with the macaroni and rockhopper penguins. Penguins had always been a distant dream to me, only to be seen on BBC Nature documentaries. I’ve since had the opportunity to watch them build their nests, mate and nurture their eggs. I’ve watched them peck at each other furiously as well as prune and snuggle. I’ve watched as a shell broke open and a little chick let out its first chirps. I’ve watched parents come home from a hard day’s work at sea and greet their partners with a brilliant display, shouting to the rooftops, before saying a little hello to their chicks and giving them a meal. I’ve watched the same little chicks grow and stumble around in all their cuteness, and I’ve watched an unlucky few get carried away in the beak of a skua. I’ve watched them lose their down and become penguins, penguins that will someday nurture their own eggs and feed their own chicks. I’ve watched, and I’ve experienced, and that is something I am truly grateful for, and will never forget.

A pair of macaroni penguins chilling out

One island with ice cream and chocolate chips please?

Ice-strewn plains of Marion Island’s interior

 

Check out more of Otto’s work and travels on his blog thebenigncontinuum.blogspot.com

I think I just PHUNTED

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A report back on a world first by Chris Mason

Yesterday I was invited to PHUNT. Or more precisely; NHU Africa was invited to participate in the Inaugural International Phunting Event. Phunting means photo-hunting, a clever idea spear-headed by Pangolin photo safari director Toby Jermyn. The goal of phunting is to take photos of various bird, mammal and reptile species within a certain amount of time in a specific location while abiding by the various rules (no speeding, off-roading or lenses longer than 300mm etc) of phunting. The teams are made up of 2 or more people and the team to see and photograph the most animal’s wins. Each animal is scored according to its relative obscurity or lack of, so while a yellow-billed duck might only be worth 3 points, a hippo is worth 40.

Yesterday’s PHUNT took place in Strandfontien Sewerage works (Zeekoevlei conservancy) and yes, the rogue hippo was spotted. I didn’t see it of course, in fact I was disqualified for being late, speeding and being in a team of less than 2 people. I am proud to be the first man disqualified from phunting. It makes me feel accomplished in a scoundrel-like way.

But I digress. Phunting is not just about competing with people for points, but serves a larger and more important purpose. The information and images gathered will be submitted to the MammalMAP project, initiated and run but the University of Cape Town’s Animal Demography Unit. What is this MammalMAP you ask? Here is the explanation from their website:

“The aim of MammalMAP is to update the distribution records of all African mammal species. Through collaborations with professional scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across Africa, we consolidate all reliable and identifiable evidence (camera trap records, photographs) of current mammal locations into an open-access digital database. The database software automatically generates online distribution maps of all recorded species which are instantly visible and searchable. The information consolidated within MammalMAP will not only yield crucial information for species conservation policies and landscape conservation policies, but provides an excellent platform for educating the public about African mammals and their conservation challenges.”

The act of phunting itself gets one outside, allowing for more fresh air in the lungs and a greater opportunity to develop an appreciation for the natural world. It also has the almost adrenal jolt of ‘getting the shot’. All of these are good things, and when you add to this the fact that you’ll be helping gather information for one of Africa’s most ambitious animal surveys ever attempted you can rest assured that phunting is good, clean fun that won’t leave you with any regrets the next day.

To learn more about MammalMAP go HERE

And for more on Phunting go HERE  

NHU Africa’s Final Call for Proposals in 2012

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We at NHU Africa are currently making a final call for submission of natural history film and series proposals. All production companies and filmmakers are asked to submit proposals for the 2013 funding year. Proposals that meet NHU Africa criteria will be reviewed. The deadline for proposals is the 15 October 2012.

The NHU Africa is a commissioning body and production house that produces some of Africa’s finest natural history and wildlife programming. We are urging South Africa’s most talented producers to propose films and series dealing with one or more of the various focus points within the natural history genre. These focus points include the following: Human-Animal Interaction, Adventure/Exploration, Blue Chip/The Natural World and Investigation and Revelation.

Commissioning Editor of NHU Africa, Vyv Simson outlines what is most likely to make a strong/successful pitch “‘A successful pitch will contain some or all of the following: a strong story intriguingly told; engaging human and animal characters; a dramatic visual style; a sense of something we have not seen before; a fresh insight or approach to something we thought we’d seen before.”

Commissioning Brief

NHU Africa is looking for strong, African based stories that speak to the connections between people, animals and the natural world. Stories should have a focus on Africa with powerful, entertaining, unusual and dramatic stories that provide an insight into the natural world and our place within it. Furthermore we are looking for films which will appeal to International audiences rather than simply the South African domestic audience. In particular we are looking to engage audiences in the US, UK, Europe and Asia. We will commission both one off specials at 1 x 60 mins and multi-part series with episode lengths of either 30mins or 60 mins. We are particularly interested in the following areas:

Human/Animal interaction:
This ranges from unique single stories like Into The Dragon’s Lair – an intense and frightening personal quest to dive with Nile Crocodiles in the Okavango- to Cheetah Diaries – a light observational documentary series following the ongoing the work of the dedicated staff at The Cheetah Outreach. All films in this area need strong characters, developing story lines and an ability to tell us something new about the needs, desires and connections that drive human relationships with wild animals.

Adventure/Exploration:
Proposals in this area can be unique stories like Ice Man –the story of Lewis Pugh’s one man mission to highlight climate change by swimming in Antarctica – or more entertainment led series based ideas. All submissions whether for series or single films need to be built around strong characters and have a strong sense of a quest.

The Natural World/Blue Chip Natural History:
This ranges from 3 part series like Chameleons of the World- concentrating on one unusual species – to single more personal films like A Kalahari Tale- focusing on one particular individual animal. Proposals in this area must tell strong, unusual and dramatic stories, have their focus on the wild animals and offer high visual values.

Investigation/Revelation:
Proposals in this area will tend to be more investigative in approach. They can range from stories like The Search for The Knysna Elephants – one man’s attempts to challenge the official view that only one elephant remained in the Knysna Forest – to Free Passage to Angola – testing the notion that elephants are able to detect landmines. Proposals in this area should focus on unusual, difficult or controversial subjects and deliver genuine revelation.

Every submission must include:
• 1 page synopsis.
• Treatment (2-4 pages).
• Fully itemised budget in ZAR and US Dollars.
• Key Creatives biographies.
• Screener or showreel, if any.
• List of co-production, distribution or finance partners, if any already attached.

Please submit your idea for commission or co-production to geta@nhuafrica.com

NHU Africa on SA’s best filmmakers, spirit animals and the natural history genre

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In line with Woman’s Day we speak to NHU Africa’s hard-working duo of Géta Palm and Shani van Straaten, and discuss things like their recent trip to DIFF, the plans for Wildlife filmmakers and their take on SA’s most exciting films.

Chris: What are your roles at NHU Africa?

Géta: As Head of Production I oversee all in-house productions and external commissions and co-productions. I also co-ordinate the Wild Talk Africa Film Festival and manage the Wildlife Film Academy and have managed over 120 hours of wildlife programming.

Shani: I assist with the brand initiatives of NHU Africa, in strategizing the key areas of interest for growing the NHU Africa brand, as well as developing a culture of interest in projects with natural history themes. My other hat is managing Wild Talk Africa film festival and conference, which happens every two years and takes up the better half of my day.

C: Géta, what were your goals at DIFF, and did you enjoy the festival?

G: I really enjoyed the festival, it was great. Our goals at DIFF were to tap into the documentary festival scene and introduce wildlife filmmaking to other producers and filmmakers. Also to show the industry the films / programmes we produce, commission and co-produce and to talk about the challenges we face in the industry.

C: As a representative in the panel of commissioners, did you see an interest from filmmakers in the natural history genre?

Géta on the Commisioning Panel at DIFF

G: The delegates were definitely interested. Especially as it is quite a new genre to most that attended the festival.

C: What is your advice to young aspiring filmmakers interested in natural history?

G: The wildlife industry in South Africa is quite a small community of filmmakers and there is not a lot of money going around. I would suggest that you be willing to work long hours, sometimes for free and be open to staying in the bush without any luxuries! NHU Africa also hosts an International Film Festival and Conference, Wild Talk Africa, that you should attend. It is a 3 day festival with workshops; panel sessions; film screenings and great evening networking sessions.

C: Shani, do you think the NHU Africa films were well received?

Shani: NHU Africa’s films were received extremely well at the Durban International Film Festival. We were pleased to see our two films “All the President’s Elephants” and “Dragons Feast 3D” hold their own against competitive films in genres of social and cultural interest, which can often overshadow nature films due to the loyal audiences of an already established festival. It was exciting to see the Question and Answer sessions introduce unique perspectives; there was a definite difference in the DIFF audiences questions and comments in comparison to those you find at a wildlife film festival. This gives us a lot of hope that there is a consumer market for nature films within South Africa.

C: Do you believe there is a market for South African Wildlife films and a Wildlife film festival in South Africa?

S: Regarding the film festival, we already know there are established natural history and wildlife producers within South Africa, so there is always a potential delegate base. However most of these producers are creating films for an international market, which can sometimes dilute the African perspective of the stories we tell. So in terms of a long term vision for a healthy market, we need to be creative and intentional about growing an audience appetite for African nature-themed films and programs. This is achieved through more public participation in local festivals, creative screening spaces, working with all aspects if industry support available, and of course assisting local filmmakers to get their stories produced in whatever form possible. With new platforms of distribution and exciting advances in digital television, we have high hopes that there will be more slots for local wildlife films in the future, and Wild Talk Africa is an important event to address these issues. This kind of question always comes down to; what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Do audiences create markets, or does strong content create audiences? I believe in the duality of the two, and film festivals are the starting point for growth in both a strong filmmaking industry as well as a cultural appetite for consumption of natural history films based programs.

C: What are the aims of Wild Talk Africa in 2013?

S: Wild Talk Africa 2013 would like to see a broader spectrum of projects brought to the festival. The genre is a growing one, so we would like people to recognize the far-reaching possibilities within the natural history genre. I hope to see new producers looking at their work in the light of a possible natural history story: stories of people and their natural surroundings, human relationships with our animal friends here on earth, travel, adventure, expedition, scientific discovery, anthropology and the list goes on. Africa is a continent with a bottomless well of natural mystery and intrigue – I hope to see some of these stories surface. We also hope to have a good mentorship and development program set up, so that emerging filmmakers can pitch confidently and receive invaluable feedback from highly respected commissioners and industry heads.

Shani chaired the NHU Africa Panel

C: On a personal note, what was your highlight of the festival?

S: Hmmm… I know I should say the panel discussion we hosted, but truthfully it was quite nerve-wracking, although the discussion was vibrant and challenging and I came away with lots of new ideas for Wild Talk Africa. But honestly, my favorite thing about all festivals – is the tangible energy in the air. The Durban beachfront was incredibly beautiful and I loved having meetings and exchanging ideas with like-minded people in such a beautiful location. And the NFVF party was off-the-hook!

C: Who, in your opinion is the most exciting South African filmmaker at the moment?

S: Wow – that is a tough one, there are so many. And it’s difficult to be fair since I have a lot of filmmaker friends who I would like to punt. But after sitting through several of the pitching sessions, and having watched some of their past films, I am very excited about Francois Verster (Director) and Mike Auret (producer, MD Spier Films). I love the films they have been involved with in the past, and at the Durban Filmmart they pitched a project called “The Soweto Messiah” which is going to be an incredible film! Another exciting filmmaker is Bryan Little, who’s film “the African Cypher” won the Best SA documentary award this year at DIFF. I love the raw beauty and honest approach Bryan takes and look forward to all his films to come.

C: OK because we work in Wildlife film, the most important question, if you were an animal, what would it be?

S: (Laughs) I would love to say an owl – I love owls and would hope to reflect some of this beautiful creatures associated personality traits, however I have been told by my friends that I’m as loyal as a Labrador. So I guess I should go with that.

G: A bear, so I can sleep during the cold winters in Cape Town!

Wildlife Film Academy Feedback

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This year has seen the Wildlife Film Academy grow in leaps and bounds, according to Operations Manager Khanyo Nzunzu. Fresh from his time at the academy, we caught up with Khanyo and asked him how things went:

“The WFA has just finished a very successful second course in Botswana, Khwai, Okovango Delta. It has been the a fantastic month filled with amazing sightings ranging from lions swimming (first time I have ever seen it!), a 40 minute sighting of a leopard and her cub on a kill, hyenas and honey badgers to having elephants in camp literally every day.  

Elephant close-up

So overall, the filming safari trips were absolutely incredible and unforgettable as we saw the most rare and phenomenal sightings, some of which may only happen once in a lifetime. Even better is that we managed to capture all of this in a very short period of time. The move to Botswana has been perfect for the academy as a learning institution and we have reached a place where our goals have been met and now we are producing the best work the academy has ever seen.”

On the new camp set up and tour operators Khanyo had this to say,

“Kitso Safaris did a phenomenal job hosting the Wildlife Film Academy, pampering us with their splendid hospitality, great accommodation and fabulous food which contributed to us having some of the most memorable safari trips the academy has ever seen. They are one of the most professional safari companies that I have come across in my time working in the wildlife industry.”

“It has been an intense experience for the students as not only did they have to learn to write a script for a wildlife documentary but also had learn to operate cameras in a very short period of time. They were able to handle this with great focus and spirit thanks to the help and guidance of our very experienced lecturers,  Caroline Pryce, Jurgen and Tarina Josefowiscs, who have done an outstanding job. The final projects speak volumes about the knowledge they have gained at the Wildlife Film Academy. Most importantly, all the feedback from the students has been VERY positive with many indicating that attending the WFA has resulted in the best experience of their lives.”

Tools of the trade

If you are interested in finding out more about the Wildlife Film Academy click HERE

 

NHU Africa Films – Awards and Nominations

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Over the last few years NHU Africa has been submitting films to various film festivals around the world. These festivals act as platforms to show case the work being done in certain genres and allow for a bit of competition within categories. Our catalogue is diverse and varied, which allows  us to enter films into many festivals, from the Durban International Film festival right on our doorstep to places as far abroad as the Japan International Film Festival.

We have compiled a list of festival awards and nominations that we have recieved in the last year or so, and can proudly present the following films and their acheivements:

A Kalahari Tail

WINNER: Merit Award for Animal Behaviour – IWFF 2009
WINNER: ROSCAR Award for best Natural History Production with a Limited Budget – Wild Talk Africa 2009
AWARD: Jury Recognition – Japan Wildlife Film Festival 2009
SELECTED FOR COMPETITION: Sondrio Festival 2010

Nature of Life

WINNER: Prize of Hope – International Festival of Sustainable Development Films – Ekotopfilm 2009
NOMINATED: Best Director – Sichuan TV Festival 2009
NOMINATED: Best Long Documentary – Sichuan TV Festival 2009
HONORABLE MENTION: For Cultural Message – IWFF 2010
SELECTED FOR SCREENING: International Nature Film Festival
GREEN SCREEN 2010 SELECTED: For highlighting problems concerning the environment, its conservation, human activities and sustainable development – Sondrio Festival 2010

Into the Dragon’s Lair

HONORABLE MENTION: For Cinematography – IWFF 2010 W
WINNER: Stelvio National Park Award – Sondrio Festival 2010 FINALIST: Sound Award – Wildscreen Panda Awards 2010
FINALIST: International People & Animals Award – Wildscreen Panda Awards 2010
FIRST RUNNER UP: Best Camera Award – International NaturVision Film Festival 2010
FINALIST: Broadcast Award – BLUE Ocean Film Festival 2010 – received Honors
WINNER: Excellence in Underwater Cinematography Award – BLUE Ocean Film Festival 2010
FINALIST: Original Music Score Award – BLUE Ocean Film Festival 2010 – received Honors
FINALIST: Excellence in Underwater Cinematography – BLUE Ocean Film Festival 2010 – received Honors
SCREENING: Planet in Focus: International Environmental Film & Video Festival October 13-17, 2010
SELECTED FOR SCREENING: Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival 2010
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: The World Festival of Underwater Pictures, October 2010
PRIZE FOR THE BEST MUSICAL ADAPTATION: The World Festival of Underwater Pictures, October 2010
WINNER Wildlife Programme: SAFTAS 2011 Craig Foster (Into the Dragon’s Lair, NHU Africa)
WINNER Best Cinematographer in a Wildlife Programme: SAFTAS 2011 Craig Foster (Into the Dragon’s Lair, NHU Africa) Damon Foster (Into the Dragon’s Lair, NHU Africa)
WINNER Best Wildlife Programme: SAFTAS 2011 Into the Dragon’s Lair (NHU Africa)
EMMY AWARDS 2011: Nominated for Cinematography

Short list Wild & Scenic Film Festival just wants to let you know that your film has been put on the short list that is being sent to the awards jury! Awards will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, Saturday, January 15 beginning at 4 p.m. The day(s) and time(s) your film will be showing will be posted on our website beginning December 1.

Wild Walk

AWARD: Best “Out of Africa” Mini Series on Indian Television – The Indian Television Academy 2009

Gorillas: A Journey for Survival

SELECTED FOR SCREENING: Ecozine International Film Festival and Environment 2010, 14-23 May, Zaragoza, Spain
WINNER: Wildlife VAASA Festival – Best Environmental / Conservation Award Antarctica: Journey into the White Desert
HONORABLE MENTION: For Creative Approach – IWFF 2010
HONORABLE MENTION: For Storytelling – IWFF 2010

The Search for the Knynsa Elephants

HONORABLE MENTION: For Graphics & Animation – IWFF 2010 Out of Africa –

Frogs in Demand

FINALIST: For Biodiversity Award – International Nature Film Festival GREEN SCREEN 2010

The Lewis Gordon Pugh Story

WINNER: Best Expedition Adventure Award , International NaturVision Film Festival 2010 SCREENING: Filmfest Vimperk, Czech Republic, 5 – 8 October 2010

The Giant Pink S

SELECTED: For highlighting problems concerning the environment, its conservation, human activities and sustainable development – Sondrio Festival 2010, winners announced in October 2010.

Saving Rhino Phila

FINALIST: The Nature Conservancy Environment & Conservation Award Wildscreen Panda awards 2012
SELECTED FOR SCREENING: Encounters
NOMINATED: Best Story Green Screen 2012
ACCREDITED: Green Screen 2012 Stranded
HONOURABLE MENTION: People and Sea Blue Oceans

Paseka – The Easter Elephant

NOMINATED: Best Story Green Screen 2012
ACCREDITED: Green Screen 2012
SELECTED FOR SCREENING: China Animal and Nature 2012

The Animal Communicator

Nominated for Best Long Documentary, Best Director of “Jade Kunlun” Awards of 2012 World Mountain Documentary Festival of Qinghai China

Chameleons of the World

SELECTED FOR SCREENING: China Animal and Nature 2012

Wild in Durban- NHU Africa takes Natural History to DIFF

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This past July NHU Africa participated in the 33rd Durban International Film festival, arguably the most important film festival on the African continent. DIFF provided an excellent platform for NHU Africa to showcase our films and communicate with South African producers and filmmakers around the process of commissioning and producing wildlife, conservation and natural history film.

NHU Africa’s offerings at DIFF included a double bill of world premieres; All the President’s Elephants and Dragon’s Feast 3D. Both films deal with human-animal interactions, but on very different levels. While All the President’s Elephants tells a story of one woman’s plight to save a herd of Mugabe’s elephants by getting him to re-sign the protection decree, Dragon’s Feast 3D graphically depicts a man’s journey and desire to dive with large Nile Crocodiles in the middle of a feeding frenzy. The first wildlife film shot in 3D film of its kind, Dragon’s Feast contains some spine-chilling scenes where things could go seriously wrong for the divers.

The inclusion of natural history films at DIFF was a gamble, but attendance clearly showed that South African’s are interested in films dealing with animals, and human animal relationships.

The other portion of NHU Africa’s offerings at DIFF was the Panel discussion on the Natural History genre, comprised of the following panelists; Filmmaker Craig Foster, Environmental Journalist and filmmaker Swati Thiyagarajan, producer Oloff Bergh from Triosphere, Géta Palm head of production at NHU Africa, and Graeme Duane, creative director of Earth-Touch.  The panel was well chaired by Wild Talk Africa festival manager Shani van Straaten, and it seemed clear from the response of the attendees that there is certainly interest from South African producers to start telling natural history stories, which can encompass a wide variety of topics. 

The festival itself was packed with good watching, from South Africa and abroad. From short films to full-length features and films that said they were not films (Pahani’s This Is Not a Film). There were a lot more South African films then I’ve seen in years past, and an indication that our home-grown talent is starting to bear cinematic fruit.

 

If you are a filmmaker or producer with an idea for a film that you feel may be applicable to NHU Africa, read our commissioning brief for more details HERE

International Wildlife Management: Is human management our greatest challange?

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The IV International Wildlife Management Congress 2012 in Durban

Cooperative Wildlife Management Across Borders: Learning in the Face of Change

A personal account by Chris Mason

After attending the IV IWMC, two things have become clear to me; firstly the challenges we face in wildlife management right now are more about managing human behaviour than that of wildlife, and these challenges are not separate and confined to individual countries, but shared across borders, throughout Africa, and the world.

The conference was informative and well-attended, with delegates from around the globe gathering to discuss the most important topics of the moment and search for potential solutions. The workshops were academic by nature, and generally unrelated, but certain themes were carried through as undertones. One was trans-border wildlife management and the loss of animals through poaching, and the other the challenge of changing human perceptions regarding the conservation of their wildlife resources on a local and international scale.

I came away with the understanding that we as a global society are facing an immanent and shared danger. It is the logical conclusion of our current trajectory; that we will wipe out most of biodiversity on earth in a combined effort of consumption and carelessness. It seems that conservationists and those trying to preserve wildlife habitats come up against all manner of powerful and uncompromising opponents, from armies to governments to the private sector. As conservationist and keynote speaker Shane Mahoney said about the last wild places, “None of them will last without our interference”.

The realities of protecting our precious yet already dwindling wild life and spaces then begin to seem slim. But all is not lost, and it really becomes a question of social values. Are we prepared to fight for the survival of our local environments, protect what lives in our back-yards? If not, it seems be had better start doing so. Because if we cannot protect our own natural heritage, what chance to we have of protecting anyone else’s, or expecting them to do so? And without a total re-think about the way the global population of the late-capitalist era interacts with the natural world, we may be in danger of eating, killing and razing to the ground all the most precious resources we have. As Mahoney says “If conservation is to have any chance, it must be grounded in the hearts and minds of the people”. In other words, we need to invest some thought into how much we care about stopping our planet from becoming a desolate parking lot.

Man appreciating Nature

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