Films 2016

First Prize – “Town of Sondrio” Award and Students’ Jury Award 2016

Polar Bear Summer

by Klaus Scheurich – Produced by: Marco Polo Film AG – Broadcaster: Smithsonian Networks, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) - Germany 2015 – Running time: 52 min. – Featured area: Southwestern area of Western Bay, Canada

Polar bears are the monarchs of the Arctic. They are adapted to life on ice and snow. Yet there is one place where they are marooned on land for several months every summer. How do they survive in an environment that is foreign to them? In a warming world, can their fate here give us hope for the species in general?

Stelvio National Park Award and “Achille Berbenni” Award assigned by the Audience Jury 2016

Making an Ancient Forest

by Rita Schlamberger – Produced by: ScienceVision Filmproduction – Austria 2015 – Running time: 52 min. - Featured area: Kalkalpen National Park, Austria

The film travels deep into the remote forests of the Kalkalpen National Park, in Austria, the largest area of wilderness in the Alps. Abandoned and unmanaged by man for close to a quarter of a century, the forest’s dramatic cycle of growth and decay now rules the landscape. What appears at first to be devastation and destruction is in fact part of the fundamental process of the forest’s regeneration and transformation back to its natural, primeval state, luring even the lynx to return ‘home’ after 115 years of absence.

“Lombardy Region” Award 2016

Le Clan des Renards

by Anne and Erik Lapied – Produced by: Lapied Film – France 2015 – Running time: 69 min. – Featured area: Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy, French Alps

Il existe au cœur de la Savoie et du Grand Paradis des sanctuaires d’altitude qui concentrent toute la splendeur sauvage des Alpes. Peut-on les imaginer sans le renard et le loup? Le film, intégralement tourné avec des animaux libres et sauvages, raconte sur une année, la vie d’un clan de renards de montagne. Un jour de neige, cinq renardeaux viennent au monde dans un chaos rocheux, à 1800m d’altitude. S’ils partagent l’insouciance des premiers mois de leur vie avec les chamois, marmottes et bouquetins, à la fin de l’été la tension monte. Tous ne pourront rester. Dès lors, leur vie sera une suite d’épreuves, au sein du clan pour les uns, d’errance en quête de territoire pour les autres.

Special Mention 2016

America’s National Parks - Yellowstone

by Oliver Goetzl – Produced by: Gulo Film Productions – Germany 2015 – Running time:55 min. – Featured area: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, U.S.A.

Few places are as special and unique as Yellowstone National Park – America’s first national park. A wilderness jewel of vast forests and wide-open valleys, home to large bison herds, wolf packs and grizzly bears. It sits atop one of the world’s largest active super volcanoes, giving rise to such iconic geothermal features as Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring. As part of the landmark wildlife series America’s National Parks, “Yellowstone” was filmed over three years.

Jumbo Wild

by Nick Waggoner – Produced by: Sweetgrass Productions – U.S.A. 2015 – Running time: 60 min. – Featured area: Jumbo Valley, British Columbia, Canada

The documentary depicts all sides of an epic struggle between backcountry protection and development in British Columbia’s iconic Jumbo Valley – highlighting the tension between protection of wilderness and the backcountry experience and ever-increasing development interests in wild places. As you may already know, a large-scale proposed ski resort threatens the rich wilderness of British Columbia’s Purcell Range – a revered backcountry ski and snowboarding destination with world-class terrain, sacred ground for local First Nations people, and part of one of North America’s most important grizzly bear corridors.

Giraffe – Up High and Personal

by Herbert Ostwald – Production: Terra Mater Factual Studios – Co-production National Geographic Channel – Austria 2015 – Running time: 50 min. – Featured area: Savannah of Kenya, desert of Namibia

Long legs, tall neck, wide eyes – giraffes are the beauties of the African savannah. But there is so much more to these gentle giants: their exceptional body, their distinctive behaviour, their secret social life. So far, giraffes have barely been more than decorative extras in wildlife films, towering over the savannah. The film takes a fresh look at these tallest animals of all, revealing brand new details about the secret lives of this true African icon. We present giraffes in the savannah of Kenya, in the South African grassland as well as in the desert of Namibia.

Wild Albania – In the Land of the Eagle

by Cornelia Volk – Produced by: Looks Film & TV Produktionen – Germany 2015 - Running time: 44 min. - Featured area: Theth, Valbona, Divjaka-Karavasta, Butrint and Fir of Hotova National Parks, Albania

Albania is a country full of hidden nature treasures. High up in the ”Accursed Mountains“ a tousled golden eagle chick breaks into light. Along the coast, Dalmatian pelicans are already busily feeding their offspring. Brown bears roam between the forests and lush meadows of the lowland mountain ranges, just like a small herd of feral Albanian horses. Cultural monuments that bear witness of the country’s eventful history shelter European pond turtles and horseshoe bats. Many of the places are approached from the sky, like from the eagle’s-eye view. Time and again, the camera returns to the aerie to observe how the little white chick slowly grows to become Albania’s heraldic animal.



Amur – Asia’s Amazon – The Black Dragon

by Klaus Feichtenberger –Co-production: Terra Mater Factual Studios, Interspot Film, NDR Naturfilm Doclights, in association with ARTE France – Austria 2015 – Running time: 50 min. - Featured area: Amur River, China, Russia, North Korea

In China, the Amur River’s middle course is called Heilong-jiang, which means Black Dragon. It runs through ancient Manchuria and forms a natural border between China and Russia. Until recently, this was a restricted military zone – restricted for humans but a blessing to wildwoods, wetlands and wildlife. The border between the super-powers is also the reason why the river's flow remains uninterrupted by dams – an increasingly rare situation on this planet. The film shows how China is beginning to recover wild wetlands and woodlands in order to enable the return of wildlife. On the Chinese-Korean border, pristine subtropical jungle surrounds Northeast Asia’s mightiest volcano. From its crater, a natural shrine for consecutive cultures, flows the Amur's biggest tributary, the Songhua or White Dragon River.

Kunság – The Secret Life of the Hungarian Puszta

by Szabolcs Mosonyi – Produced by: NatFilm Hungary – Hungary 2015 – Running time: 52 min. – Featured area: Kiskunság and Körös-Maros National Parks, Hungary

In the middle of the Carpathian Basin, lying between the Tisza and the Danube, the landscape is like any other plain in Europe. It was once shaped by winds and rivers, today it bears traces of human activities. However, the Great Hungarian Plain is different. It has a secret life, where something interesting happens all the time. On the endless pastures, male great bustards are hustling and pushing each other in the breeding season. With the migrating birds in spring and autumn the white salty lakes are like big, crowded airports. Groups of young eagles are hunting awkwardly, and from the sand the wind builds 30-40-meter high mounds, which rabbits turn to cheeses riddled with holes. The short-eared owl is clapping his wings and there are so many mayflies over the rivers, that you can hardly see the other side. The queerest creature is the protagonist itself.

Montecristo, Tirreno selvaggio

by Ennio Boga – Produced by: Studio Boga – Italy 2015 – Running time: 28 min. – Featured area: Island of Montecristo, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Italy

From Europe’s liquid heart emerges an island with an unmistakable profile: it’s Montecristo. Made famous in the world by Dumas’ novel and attended by Saint Mamiliano’s monks for over a millennium, it constitutes Europe’s most protected and salvage territory. The documentary describes  the dramatic and disturbing beauty of the place, traces left by men, the most characteristic naturalistic aspects and the initiatives for rewilding and biodiversity conservation.

Magical Moors

by Jan Haft – Produced by: Nautilusfilm – Germany 2015 – Running time: 93 min. – Featured area: Moors and wetlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden

Eerie and menacing, yet hauntingly beautiful and highly evocative.  The rugged Moor landscape has long fuelled our imagination, inspiring artists and poets, evoking images both terrifying and deeply romantic. It’s a land of contrasts. Wide open heaths, windswept and barren in winter, are transformed into wonderful carpets of white, fluffy cotton grass in summer.  Large bears and wolves roam alongside delicately fluttering butterflies, the bubbling calls of black grouse and the enchanting trills of the great snipe. One of our most ancient, yet little-known landscapes, moorlands are full of enchanting surprises. Magical Moors captures the quiet beauty of a spectacular landscape, and its often elusive wildlife, in stunning detail.

America’s National Park - Saguaro

by Yann Sochaczewski – Produced by: NDR Naturfilm Doclights – Germany 2015 – Running time: 48 min. – Featured area: Saguaro National Park, Arizona, U.S.A.

In Arizona, Saguaro National Park stands out as North America’s most unique desert. Home to the iconic symbol of the Southwest, the Saguaro cacti towers above all else, its shallow roots keeping some as old as 200 years precariously in place. Here, under the shade of the Saguaro, a rich diversity of fauna and flora turn this seemingly uninhabitable landscape into a wildlife refuge. What makes all this possible, is the aptly named fifth season, which brings with it wild tropical-like thunderstorms and heavy rains. After a brief but powerful storm, the reinvigorated wildflowers blossom with unprecedented beauty and many of the parks animals, big and small, reappear from cracks and crevasses to take advantage of this new burst of life.