Vanishing Kings - Lions of the Namib II - The Musketeers' Legacy
In the ancient Namib Desert, a young adult male lion roams across the desolate, barren plains. He has ended up in a place far away from home and is desperate to find his brothers, who went missing a few days ago. Wandering through the desert all alone, he has just started the journey of a lifetime.
It may be the world's oldest zoo (Joseph II founded it in 1752), but Schönbrunn is still at the cutting edge of global conservation: Polar Bears in Canada, Elephants in Sri Lanka - even Water Buffalos in Upper Austria! Following Lukas Beck's delightful and emotional first film with Schönbrunn, «A Life for Animals», «Schönbrunn's Ark» now portrays the intimate, dynamic relationships that develop between a zoo's experts and the species they reach out to save, on three continents.
Charlie is a young Bearded Vulture chick growing up among the sheer mountainsides of Switzerland's Engadin National Park. Helped by his family, Charlie will learn how to fly, will watch as his relatives paint themselves in the orange mud that is the preferred make-up of all their kind, and above all: he will be taught how to master the skills of dive-bombing with marrow-bones, his species' unique way to access high-nutrition food. But at the age of two Charlie's dark plumage will become paler, and he will be rejected. Then he must fly away, as far as the skies of Milan or Rotterdam, only to return as an adult. Now he will most likely find another chick in his nest, and it's up to him to find his own mate, and cement the new relationship with the vultures' glorious mating flights. Bearded Vultures were eradicated from the Alps by 1907, but in the 1980s they were reintroduced, and now for the first time in a century, three generations of vultures live side by side.
Meet the Martens
Inspired by Erich Kästner's Conference of the Animals, this film by Kurt Mayer («Planet Sparrow») gathers members of the remarkable Marten family from four continents to an international meeting in Vienna. The venue, a traditional hotel (think «Grand Budapest Hotel») becomes their temporary home. Honey-badgers, wolverines, ermines and stone martens - even otters - each have their own way of making their room their territory, and each room has magical access to the natural habitat they left behind. «Meet the Martens» combines blue chip wildlife photography with the comedy of unexpected encounters between relatives.
Stars and Stripes
Why is a baby deer born with white spots - and why do they disappear as it grows? Why is a young wild boar striped? What makes those stripes fade with age? Why is a goshawk spotted when it's young and striped when it's older?
In fabulous 4K footage Kurt Mündl's film opens up the study of Somatolysis, animal camouflage - and finds some amazing answers, including: why the zebra has its stripes!
Walking with the Alpine Ibex
They rest by night, a silhouette of snoring and sighing horns, with Capricorn's stars high above in the milky Alpine skies. Only at full moon will they walk. Then the herd moves together, silently, gracefully, peacefully. Like ghosts their horned heads appear on the limestone ridges of the Hochschwab mountains. This massive range absorbs snowmelt and rainfall like a gigantic sponge, supplying a million people in Vienna a hundred miles away with crystal- clear water. Entering the distant, archaic, mystic world of the ibex was Bernhard Schatz's dream. In this unique film we follow the Alpine ibex under Bernhard's guidance over a whole year; we experience the amazing, sometimes hilarious, social behavior of these magical animals, filmed in the heaviest snowstorms and in the cracking summer heat. And with the ibex we also meet their animal companions: chamois, marmots, golden eagles and European adders.
Through a Raven's Eye
The Common Raven is the largest, cleverest and bravest European corvid - brave enough to make its home in the harsh landscape of the 'Totes Gebirge'- the 'Dead Mountains'. This barren limestone plateau at 2,500 meters soaks up rainwater, leaving the peaks bone-dry. Further down, the precipitation creates a paradise of turquoise lakes, pristine springs, moss-covered forests and mysterious moors. The temporary karst springs bring further specialist behaviour: landlocked Danube bleak make short and spectacular migrations to their spawning grounds, and wallcreepers scurry up and down steep cliffs, looking for larvae; while chamois, ptarmigans and mountain hares eke out a living amongst the jagged rocks. Gliding on silent wings through this landscape of contrasts, the raven takes us on a tour of his realm: this forbidding limestone massif may appear dead - but through the raven's eyes it's anything but!
Bears of the Karawank
No other part in Southern Europe has such a high concentration of brown bears as Slovenia's and Croatia's mediterranean karst. The bears hide in the untouched forests - no need for them to cross paths with people. The bear cubs stay with their mother until she returns to oestrous. Then, she chases them away and the cubs have to find their own territory. The young brown bears wander north until the massive Karawank mountains block their way. But young bears are curious hunters and fearless climbers. And yet crossing these mountains at up to 2,500 meters is not even their most challenging mission - an encounter with humans can bring a sudden end to their daring journey through one of Europe's wildest landscapes. These spectacular Karawank peaks with their harsh north faces and gentle southern slopes, home to teeming mediterranean wildlife, mark the southern barrier of the Alps.
Kestrels at Close Quarters
The drama of life is unpredictable. This is as true for humans as for wild animals. Kestrels have learned to live close to man. They even raise their hatchlings in our towns. This is the story of two kestrel couples bringing up their chicks in the same neighbourhood in the center of Vienna. While destiny crowns one pair's breeding with success, the other kestrels face a more brutal fate: they have chosen an inappropriate place to brood and raise their hatchlings. With a close look and unflinching passion this film reveals the family lives of Kestrels, their needs and efforts when breeding, but also the life which follows a successful brood. Once the fledglings learn to fly, both parents and offspring face a vital decision: shall they stay in Europe over the winter or head off to southern climes with abundant prey? Whatever they decide, another unpredictable drama of life beckons.
Cuba's Wild Revolution
Cuba has some of the richest wildlife in the Caribbean: 3,700 km of pristine coastline, mountain ranges still draped in primeval forest, swamps teeming with moisture-loving creatures - and much of it thrives because of Cuba's revolution. Decades of socialist government, U.S. embargoes and minimal development have left the island virtually unchanged.
This film will feature Cuba's wildlife where it meets the island's colonial and revolutionary past, and present: from the clouds of vultures riding the updrafts around Havana's legendary 'Habana Libre' hotel to the Cuban boa constrictors making their homes in the deserted mansions of long-gone sugar barons, to the coral-smothered cannon of wrecked Spanish galleons. Neighbors from Haiti to Jamaica may have flushed their natural wealth into the sea; Cuba sits like a green jewel in azure Caribbean waters, pulsing with life.
Europe's Wild West - Portugal
Sustained by water from the mountains, nature thrives in Portugal's north, offering a lush habitat to flocks of Greater flamingo. They seek out river estuaries or abandoned saline pools where they feed on shrimps. The shrimps' eggs survive in dry salt up to 5 years, until conditions are right to emerge. High in the mountains the Spanish imperial eagle hunts rabbits and birds. Montados, forests of cork oaks, are the perfect hideout for Iberian lynx. Here the great bustard, Europe's heaviest bird, performs a captivating mating dance while reciting a song irresistible to females. The whole display is sometimes watched by a Mediterranean chameleon, Europe's endemic chameleon species. Far in the Atlantic, Madeira's Desertas Islands are the only home of one of the largest and rarest species of wolf-spider. Here rare Mediterranean monk seals have one of the last colonies, while sperm whales enjoy the ocean's rich feeding grounds.
Wild Austria - Created by Water
Austria's Alpine glaciers, ancient seas and mighty rivers carved out amazing landscapes - key to her wildlife today. Eagles, ibex, otters and deer are well-known, but there are other, stranger creatures: Goldeneye ducks breed high in tree nests. Once hatched, the ducklings follow their mother to the life-giving river below. But they can't fly , so it's a leap of faith up to ten metres down. The tiny Bullhead is a fish that can't swim. It claws with its fins along the gravelly bed of brooks and creeks to resist the current. One creature even survived unchanged from the days of the dinosaurs: the tadpole shrimp, a three-eyed hermaphrodite whose eggs can lie dormant for decades - if necessary. Adults can self-fertilize, one shrimp is enough to ensure future generations. They all fit in to Austria's unforgettable landscapes and Water's endless cycle and ever-changing forms.
Part I: Frozen Peaks
Part II: Rivers and Plains
Corsica - The Island Continent
This large Mediterranean island combines several continents; a corner turned reveals a different world: crystalline mountain streams, gorges, with fragrant pine and chestnut forests next to brushland. Spinner dolphins, midget sharks and sperm whales play in sight of snow-capped peaks where fish eagles lazily circle. Corsica even has two distinct breeds of mouflon that have never met, introduced from Europe and Iran. 146 endemic plant and 12 animal species survive here, including a lizard that only lives on one wall of one stone hut on an offshore island!
The Shape of Africa
I The Ancient Bridge
II Between Land and Sea
III Coast of Wonders
A unique new look at Africa, from its coastal outlines, featuring wildlife and landscapes, national parks and game reserves unseen in other wildlife films.
Part I reveals Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia as the land bridge between Gondwana and the Eurasian continent. Rhinoceros, big cats and antelopes, even camels reached Africa through here, until the Red Sea widened, creating fabulous coral reefs and warm waters for manta rays and dolphins.
Part II shows how tectonics tore India from Africa's east coast, with Madagascar in between, leavingamazing similarities in landscapes and preserving unique species.
Part III highlights the great contrasts of Africa's west coast: harshest deserts, lushest jungles, rich Atlantic fishing grounds and the edge of the Sahara.
A Walk on the Wild Side - In the Vienna Prater
For 250 years the Prater has been home to Vienna's legendary pleasure gardens, ever since Emperor Joseph II opened it to the people: 600 hectares of fun, shows, indulgence -- and countryside in the city. Centuries before, these were royal hunting grounds: pastureland and woods beside the Danube. The Prater is where fantasies of every kind become reality, from the giant panoramas of the 19th century to the giant wheel immortalized in The Third Man. Yet, magically, it has never lost touch with its origins. Where once brown bears were pursued, deer, foxes, hares, pheasants, badgers and beavers still roam, with a host of smaller but no less fascinating animals like black woodpeckers, red admirals and aesculapean snakes - in this unique kaleidoscope of nature and city.
Mexico's Animal Migrants
Mexico is one of earth's few mega-biodiverse regions. Aside from residents like jaguars, eagles, roadrunners and tarantulas, there are also migrants that come in their millions from all across North and South America. Some animal adventurers set out from Mexico, others return to it or travel through. Snow Geese, Gray Whales, Free-Tailed Bats, Monarch Butterfl ies, Whale Sharks, Rufous Hummingbirds and the River of Raptors: together their stories create a living map of all of Mexico, with its most iconic animals and most spectacular landscapes.
Just by making space in our gardens we can provide vital habitats for a large number of wild animals and plants. Garden wetlands, dry stone walls, hedgerows, flower meadows and even simply homes for useful creatures can support resident species over the year. Sometimes one small step leads to a great change: to help endangered butterfly species, for example, it is enough to plant certain flowers in the garden. A scarcely-touched garden is backdrop for the growth and decay of nature over the seasons. Time lapse tracks, macro and micro, and slow motion provide an insight into fascinating flora and fauna at our front and back doors. This documentary follows biological cycles through the year and shows how gardens can serve as a permanent food source or as a refuge for wildlife.
Giants of the Atlantic - Azores
It's a gigantic underwater mountain range, rising in mid-Atlantic. Only a few peak near the surface, or reach still higher to build nine green gems: the islands of the Azores. These volcanic rocks, the only toehold between Europe and America, are of extra- ordinary beauty. The steep shelf of the Azores is a play- and mating ground for several kinds of whale. Here groups of male sperm whales on their never-ending migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic, meet females. Humpback whales and gray whales break the surface - and blue whales come here too, to feed from the vast biomass produced in the ocean's depths. Drifting up from the deep, plankton and krill attract huge schools of fish and squid. Portuguese Men 'o' War drift threateningly on the surface, while undersea caves host cannibalistic shrimps, manta rays and moray eels. On the islands, the grassy craters of the volcanoes are a winter home to songbirds from Iceland, Russia and North America, while their craggy outer walls form nests for vast colonies of Cory's Shearwaters.
High Life at Low Temperatures
The summits and sheer mountain ridges of Austria's'Little Siberia' funnel the freezing air from snow-coveredpeaks into a gigantic hollow - a high-level plateauat 1,000 metres from which it cannot escape:Lungau is Austria's coldest region. Creeks andstreams start higher here, and create bogs, moorsand countless alpine lakes.Summer is short but lively, as eagles rear their preciousyoung and ermines eat their fill before thesparse winter returns, while black alpine salamandersgive birth to live miniature versions of themselvesbeneath the tree-line.
Wild Caribbean - Rhythms of Life
Part I: Predators in Paradise
Part II: Whales and Volcanoes
Part III: Corals and Clouds
Predators in Paradise shows the Caribbean in spectacular action. From the first frame of a sea turtle snared by a tiger shark, the film alternates between the strategies for survival of both the Hunters and the Hunted.
Whales and Volcanoes: shows what happens when a volcano bursts from the ocean, inviting unique life on to its tropical slopes and black sandy beaches; creating deep sea chasms for families of sperm whales that are so comfortable, they never leave.
Corals and Clouds: there are Caribbean islands and coasts made out of living creatures: the magical «flower animals» that colonize the shallows, with their stunning once-a-year display that is coral reproduction. Inland cloud forests are equally spectacular, but their sediment run-off is the corals' biggest threat.
The Grey and the Red - Secrets of Squirrels
Everybody loves squirrels, and yet we only know them from their brief visits to ground level. Now, extraordinary HD storytelling shows them in their own environment: high up in the treetops. This documentary examines their intelligence and explores the deadly struggle for dominance between the two main species. The cute and cuddly russet acrobats are so clever they're drawing increased attention from scientists. Indeed, they now depend on the scientists for their survival, as they face extinction. Grey squirrels from North-America are spreading fast across Europe, displacing the native red squirrel.
This documentary charts both their lovable antics and the life-and-death struggle for survival of an animal that still has plenty of secrets to reveal. It observes a family of red squirrels over the course of a year, as they mate, care for their young, and battle for food and against predators.
Hell and Paradise - Russia's Wild Sea
The Sea of Okhotsk lies between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Japanese island of Hokkaido: the last and greatest unspoiled ocean on Earth. High and low tides vary by 14 meters, typhoons and tsunamis lash the shore with ten-meter waves. This is a wildlife paradise where animals grow bigger, stronger and more numerous than anywhere else. Its iconic animals are giant brown bears, the world's biggest sea eagles and the acrobatic spotted seals. Grizzlies here dip into the thermal baths and geysers left by the world's most active volcanoes. The few human inhabitants are held by the glory of the natural spectacles, the world's largest seabird colonies, starfish, sea urchins, orcas, porpoises and fin whales.
Turtle Hero - A Cold Blooded Passion
Like any young boy Peter Praschag loved animals and wanted a pet, but not a cat or a dog. His passion was for cold-blooded reptiles, his only interest was turtles. Today he is a world expert on freshwater turtles. One turtle has become an obsession: not only is it the largest freshwater turtle on the planet, it is also probably the rarest animal on Earth. Only three Yangtze Soft-shell turtles are positively known to exist. A male and a female in China, another adult in a small lake in Central Hanoi, while strong evidence suggests there may be another in a lake to the north. With assistance from experts Peter hopes to capture that individual, and he may yet help to save another species from extinction! Turtles live in a half-world between land and water, and their evolutionary history stretches back over two hundred million years. They survived cataclysmic extinction events, and have outlived the dinosaurs. Today some are amongst the most endangered vertebrates on earth.
This stunning metropolis has a flavor of two continents - Asia and Europe, divided and connected by the Bosporus straits, where the salty waters of the Sea of Marmara mix with the currents of the Black Sea. Though the Bosporus is one of the world's busiest shipping routes you can still see three species of dolphin here - reminiscent of the sagas of the ancient world. Living relics of antiquity are everywhere in Istanbul: for example, the martens were imported by Egyptian traders to protect their sacks of seeds from rats and mice.
For migrating birds Istanbul is a toehold as they head north for the European spring. But some animals have come to stay: wild wolves, invading from the east, mate with wild dogs. It's happening today as it has for generations, so that now some scientists talk of a new species: the wolfdog.
Gentle Giant - Otter's Paradise in Capercaillie County
Compared to its fellow summits in the Alps, the Oetscher is not very high: in fact, less than 2,000 metres. But among the gentle slopes of western Lower Austria, it really is a giant, with shoulders broad enough to bear the last of the Alps' virgin forests, the country's coldest plateau where temperatures fall to -50°, the oldest trees in all of Austria, and her very own Grand Canyon, the «Tormauer». Yet in making access difficult for human settlers, the gentle giant has succeeded in protecting its primary fauna. The capercaillie - rare in other parts of Europe - still makes its home in the coniferous forests, while snow grouse roam above the tree-line. Hawks lie in wait, while otters hunt in brooks. Even the brown bear has found refuge on the Oetscher's mountainsides.
The Dolomites - In the Heroes' Garden
Untamed wilderness surrounds the distinctive rock towers, stroked by the golden glimmer of sunset: this gorgeous scene could only be in the Dolomites. It's a place for myths and fairytales, and there's no shortage of them here. But among the crags and hidden in the shady creeks, wildlife creates new stories and fables day by day. Take the lonesome wolf that roamed up from the Appenines in searchof a mate - and finds her here. Or the red fox we findcarelessly at ease in every habitat: forest, bare rock,meadows, abandoned huts, even snow and ice; few animals are so adaptable. And among the rocks is a more specialized and even more skillful climber -the chamois. Contemplating the Dolomites' wildlife seems to give this region a new shape, a new spirit- and helps us understand some of the region's immortal legends.
Waterland Warriors - The Beavers are back
The Blue Danube is Vienna's lifeline - and a lifeline for beavers making their way back after their extermination in the last century. This documentary follows a young beaver setting off in search of his own territory. As babbling meadow brooks are channelled into narrow tunnels he finds himself right in the centre of Vienna; and if he can make it through, Paradise awaits upstream. Meter-high reeds, meandering side-channels and unlimited food await our beaver - and, who knows, maybe a young female. On the way he encounters some of the many surprising creatures that inhabit this metropolis. Who would have expected deer, moufflons, garish amphibians and fish, butterflies whose caterpillars develop underwater, and spiders that live their entire life without ever coming to the surface? Spectacular underwater macro-photography opens the door to an unsuspected universe on our doorstep.
Vanishing Kings - Lions of the Namib
A lioness and her daughters hold the key to the survival of Namibia's rare desert lions: two years ago they gave birth to five male cubs, and through the hardships of the desert and without a pride male, they are raising them to independence, showing them how to hunt both the smallest and the largest prey - including even giraffes. But in a desperate, brave and spectacular attack on a giraffe, the elderly matriarch is injured and subsequently dies of her wounds. Now her two daughters must finish the education of the five sons before they grow too big to be fed. Filming over more than two years, we see the secret lives of desert lions as they roam the rugged mountains, majestic sand dunes, gravel plains, scrublands, and even the beaches of Namibia's Skeleton coast. In this place of constant danger, everlasting hunger and thirst, and inevitable suffering, five young lions must conquer the desert and establish their own kingdom.
The world's least-populated country is home to the largest steppe in the world, a fascinating desert, expansive jungles, mighty mountain summits, swamps, and more than a thousand rivers and lakes. Each landscape has its own climate, flora and fauna: snow leopards hunt argali sheep in the mountains, wolverines and lynx roam the taiga alongside reindeer and mountain hares. The steppes are home to hundreds of thousands of Mongolian gazelles, steppe eagles and Houbara bustards, while wild donkeys, camels and extremely rare Gobi bears inhabit the desert. The Tsaatan and Dukha people wander the taiga with their reindeer, Kazakh herdsmen drive yaks through the mountains and steppe nomads relocate several times a year to find new grazing land. Nowhere in the world are nature and culture so intertwined as in Mongolia. In two episodes, the documentary reveals the wonders of this fascinating country as they have never been seen before.
Europe's Last Nomads
A spectacular ancient tradition is being revived right across Europe: shepherds leading flocks across the continent through the most savage and extreme landscapes. On the Similaun glacier at 2,800 meters in South Tyrol, inexperienced sheep plummet from the hazardous path or freeze to death in snowstorms. But crossing the Alps is not the longest trek in Europe. From Spain´s legendary La Mancha plains, the last cowboys of this continent and their cattle migrate into the green highlands of Cuenca. During their five week long marathon both, humans and animals face tremendous summer heat and desert- like conditions. While in Southern France herds of 3,000 sheep cross the spectacular plateaus of the Cevennes. Each sheep carries up to 5,000 seeds in its coat and spreads these en route, linking isolated biotopes. In Romania sheep climb the Carpathian Mountains, all the way to the Ukrainian border, constantly under threat from wolves. In Europe's far west, on a Welsh island, migrating sheep even generate a habitat for rare birds. Across the continent many animals and plants depend on these nomads: the last Imperial eagles, wolves, bearded and griffon vultures, insect and bird species.
Engadin - Switzerland's Wilderness
It was a hundred years ago, when a group of Swiss champions of Nature created Engadin National Park, the Alps' very first wildlife reserve. Human interference ceased: and that meant no more rescue campaigns either, like the secret smuggling of Ibexes over the pass from Italy just a few years before. Nature up here should be as free as the glacier waters had always been. Here a drop can decide where it wants to go: east to the Inn, Danube and Black Sea, north to the Rhine and the North Sea, or south to the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. A hundred years have passed - and man has watched in wonder as a new balance has established itself in this Alpine wonderland: the Ibex thrive, the bearded vulture is back in force, and even large predators - lynx, wolves and bears - are starting to claim back their old hunting grounds. This documentary follows in their tracks to celebrate a spectacular pioneering story of nature preservation.
Forest of Fantasies
On Christmas Eve, they say, the animals can talk. Peter Rosegger, one of Austria's greatest writers, turned this legend into a magical short story about his own country childhood in Styria's Alpine uplands. It's one of Austria's most fascinating landscapes: deep, dark forests flanked by steep mountain ridges, gentle meadows reaching up to exposed summits: in limitless shades of just one color: green. Trudging through the snow to join his family for the Christmas Eve service in the valley below, ten-year-old Peter comes face to face with a young fawn in the twilight, and wonders what he could tell about growing up in the forest, with the other animals, through the seasons. This film captures the essence of Rosegger's story and the subtle and dramatic changes of the Styrian forest throughout the year.
Wild Frontiers - Austria's Borderlands
The massive moose cautiously emerges from the protective shadow of the huge trees and approaches the moor. A brown bear jogs across an Alpine meadow and a colorful little lizard flits over the sandy earth - all these animals are guests in Austria, and it's at Austria's borderlands that they can regularly be seen. Some of them even dare to intrude deeper into Austria's heartland. This wildlife docu-mentary takes us on a journey of nearly 3,000 kilometers along Austria's wild frontiers. It's a journey through untamed and hidden landscapes, but also crosses crowded cities, highways, farmers' fields and vineyards. Some of these frontiers have never seriously separated countries, but others were unscalable barriers for both people and animals - like the Iron Curtain, which divided worlds only 25 years ago.
Lionsrock - Return of the King
In February 2008 a unique wildlife reserve of 1,250 hectares was established around Lionsrock, South Africa, with the aim of returning lions and other big cats to the land of their ancestors. Most are from Europe, from rundown zoos or circuses, removed to dubious holding pens like the dilapidated Panterabig cats' asylum in the Netherlands. From here a rescued lion family are sedated and air-freighted to a perfect savanna landscape, where for the first time they can be released, free, into their natural environment. This heartwarming and joyful portrait of Lionsrock with its dedicated team also features ostriches, weaver birds, ground squirrels and other African wildlife sharing the natural habitat where the lions' ancestors once thrived. And - for the first time on TV - this film shows root canal treatment on Kongo, a majestic lion male!
Wild Venice - 4K
Who would have thought Venice has itsown beautiful reefs? The Tegnùe, located on the east end of the Lagoon, are home to an astonishing diversity of life, from sponges and sea anemones to scribbled pipefish and flashing squid. Like all the other amazing wildlife, the Tegnùe have been influenced, perhaps created, by centuries of human geo-engineering. The Grand Canal itself is actually the mouth of the river Brenta, descending 200 kms from the Alps! The Lagoon is a hot-spot for exotic birds heading north in spring - year after year, more than 60 species stop at the Lagoon, their first feeding ground after crossing the Mediterranean. Venice's fabulous hidden gardens are hiding-places for pine-martens and geckos, while kestrels use abandoned monasteries to breed, and launch hunting expeditions. In magnificent, atmospheric 4K photography, this film reveals the unexpected natural glories of the world's most beautiful man-made environment.
On a River in Ireland
The Shannon is Ireland's greatest geographical landmark and the longest river in these islands. For 340 kms the river carves its way south through the heart of the country almost splitting Ireland in two. It is both a barrier and highway - a silver ribbon holding back the rugged landscapes of the west from the gentler plains to the east. On its journey, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes. On little known backwaters, Ireland's wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else. «On a River in Ireland» offers a remarkable portrait of Ireland's greatest geographical feature, using a host of techniques and showing never before filmed Irish sequences and stories.
Africa's Wild West - Stallions of the Namib Desert
In 1918 German and South African war-horses, no longer needed, were released into the burning Namibian desert.How could they survive, in one of the world's most beautiful, parched and rugged landscapes? Miraculously, they have held on to this day, constantly crossing the desert in search of sparse patches of grass, returning for water to the single well built in colonial days, sharing it with perfectly adapted oryxes - while marauding spotted hyenaspatrol close by. Far inland, in ghost towns long since abandoned by the diamond industry, snakes, lizards, chameleons and dew-drinking beetles compete for food among the drifting sands. Along the coast from the abandoned factories hundreds of thousands of seals come ashore to breed, their babies mercilessly hunted byjackals and brown hyenas.
Black Mamba - Kiss of Death
It's spring and the start of the «Silly Season» on the North Coast of Kwazulu Natal - when deadly Black Mambas emerge from their winter slumber and strike fear into the hearts of all who cross their path. This warm, leafy coastal habitat is a perfect Mamba country, and a huge concentration of these silent killers make their home in an area known as «Mamba Valley». Mambas like warm, dark spaces - and there are many of those in human homes. Considering a Mamba's bite has a 100 percent fatality rate, left untreated, it's not surprising humans fear and vilify these snakes - and there's a shoot-to-kill bounty on their heads. From predation to male confrontations, from mating to incubation: surveillance from the lockup records some of the most intriguing and intimate moments of the secret life of the Mamba. Along the way, cinematic dramatizations of actual confrontations between people and Mambas highlight the unpredictable and often fatal consequences of dabbling with Africa's most venomous snake.
Secrets of Bumblebees
They are chubbier, fuzzier and more leisurely than their sisters, the bees. They are a lot less aggressive and awe-inspiring than their cousins the wasps. Compared to honey bees, these social insects have long been poorly researched, though they're at home in temperate regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere and South America. A few tropical species form colonies lasting several years, but elsewhere only the summer's new Queens survive into next spring. Macro and high-speed cinematography allow us to witness their behavior, understand their biology, experience their unique abilities and leave us in awe of these droll little harbingers of spring.
Keepers of the Ark - A Life for Animals
The young cheetah carefully marks his new terrain which is full of another an- imal's strange scent. A group of young falcons are nervous: it's their first attempt at flight. Nina, the young keeper of the bats, is excited and sad - it's time to set her young animals free, to fend for them-selves in the woods around Schonbrunn palace. What these animals share is their proximity to humans in a zoo - the world's oldest, Vienna's Schonbrunn Zoo: a centre for animal care, conservation and international breeding programs. This is the story of Schonbrunn's zoo-keepers who devote their lives to the animals,witnessing birth, aging, death and, occasionally, the end of an entire species.
Danube - Europe's Amazon
This comprehensive cinematic portrait of Europe's second-longest river presents scenes of breathtaking beauty along the banks of the Danube and investigates the tension between humans and nature, civilization and wilderness. Dams and power stations alternate with sections of natural wilderness along this mighty river, which flows through great cities such as Vienna and Budapest and untouched natural landscapes like the Danube National Park and the Kopaki Rit. Further south, between the Carpathian mountain range in Romania and the Serbian Ore mountains, the river passes through the Iron Gate, 137 kilometers of gorges that are among the largest in Europe. The mighty river ends in a unique labyrinth of water, mud and reeds - the Danube delta. It is the last remaining major river delta in Europe and the largest reed bed on earth, used by huge colonies of pelicans, cormorants, sea eagles and spoonbills for breeding and nesting.
Part I: From the Black Forest to the Black Sea / Vom Schwarzwald zum Schwarzen Meer
Part II: Forest, Flood and Frost / Zwischen Flut und Frost
The Empress and the Forest
A palace in a private woodland near the city of Vienna; 25 square miles of lonely beauty designed for a tragic empress. The Lainzer Park was a gift from the Emperor to his wife Elisabeth, Empress of Austria, more than a century ago. In the midst of the forest is a garden whose four-hundred-year old oaks have trunks with diameters greater than four metres. The crowns of the trees are host to more than 1,000 insect species, including a hundred different kinds of butterflies. This hidden ecosystem reveals a macro world of astonishing variety, beauty and colour in the trees and on the ground, and follows the free-roaming deer and wild hogs that live so close to the busy centre of Austria's capital city.
When a female barn-owl's home - an old disused barn - is demolished, she has to seek a new place to live. On the way, flying through forests and across grasslands, she encounters most of the common owl species in Central Europe: long- and short- eared owls, little, tawny and eagle owls, some she can live peace- fully beside, others she must shun or risk becoming their prey. During her journey, the film shows how owls fly so silently and hunt so efficiently. It illustrates what they have meant to humans since ancient times, and how they live beside us today. It explains why they have become - unfairly - associated with death. Our owl finally finds a new home, as the guest of a barn owl family, in time to see the new clutch of young following their mother on their first majestic flight.
Ships of the Desert
Camels are masters of the art of survival. They can go for up to ten months without a drop of water, then drink 200 litres in only 15 minutes, and even digest salt water. Domesticated as beasts of burden they laid the foundations of ancient long-distance trade, with salt and incense caravans regularly crossing the most hostile landscapes in the world. Today, camels are still the most important source of milk, meat, leather, wool, fertilizer and fuel in large parts of Africa and Asia, and for the Bedouins of Arabia. Unsurprisingly Bedouins call the camel Al-Ata Allah, the gift of God. Now medical researchers are exploring the miraculous properties of camels' milk - apparently effective against Alzheimer's and cancer! The film shows camels defying the deadly conditions of the desert with their Bedouin owners; valuable decorated fighting camels, cosseted and pitched against one another in Turkey; Saudi Arabia's unique hi-tech camel clinics; and feral camels in Australia, saved from the cull and coralled for re-export to Arabia, where their descendents are specially bred into racing camels worth up to $3 million each.
A sparrow in the Souk in Cairo: bushy and tousled, he flits between crowded stalls to build his nest and attract a mate. He's one of five heroes of «Planet Sparrow» whose adventures cover the world, from Cairo to Beijing, New York, Moscow, Vienna and Paris. Small and grey-brown, sparrows may seem dull, but this first impression is deceptive; They're extremely clever. The camera pursues these artists of flight through narrow alleys, revealing their spectacular aerial manoeuvres. In New York, orphaned sparrow chicks are adopted by new sparrow parents. Sparrows play Russian roulette in Moscow, flying beneath the cars on the busiest roads to save winter energy. In Beijing they're captured and then released to bring good luck. In Paris, centuries of living with humans have taught them to form teams that steal and share the food of café diners. «Planet Sparrow» is a documentary about these flying survival artists, their neighbors and adversaries, all photographed from the perspective of the birds!
The INNside Story
A cascade of water pouring from glaciers and a lake in the high mountains, a waterfall tumbling from high up into the valley, a chain of lakes at the base of 10,000-foot peaks, drawn-out gravel banks, mud flats and extensive riparian forests at the river's lower reaches: the Inn has many facets to show, and a fascinating tale to tell. It's the longest tributary of the Danube in Central Europe, flowing through Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria along its 520-kilometer course. The variety of landscapes is reflected in the diversity of the flora and fauna along the river: grayling and trout swarm in its headwaters, dragonflies, frogs and rare water plants populate the oxbows; owls and bats raise their young in the bluffs. It is the river's indestructible power, however, which is most impressive: in spite of many hydropower plants and dams lining its path, the river still carries more than a million tons of gravel and silt downstream every month, before emptying its load into the Danube.
Buddies - How Dogs Discovered Man
No animal reflects human social changes as much as the dog. For millennia, dogs have served as mankind's hunting buddies, vital companions in our struggle for survival. In today's increasingly civilized world, modern dogs have had to abandon their first instincts, finding new employment as family members, helping the disabled, diagnosing cancer, or sniffing for drugs. We have forgotten what it actually means to be a dog, a hunter. «Hunting Buddies» looks back at this part of our cultural history and discovers where dog skills come from, finding out what we have given up and gained as our relationship with dogs has changed. «Hunting Buddies» takes a closer look at dog and man, nature and culture - a cinematic cross-over appealing not just to hunters and dog-lovers but to anyone fascinated by the history and development of humankind.
Return of the Hoopoe
Across Europe hoopoes are struggling. But amidst the orchards and vineyards of the Wagram region near Vienna they are thriving. This documentary shows how the small bird with the spectacular crown feathers made a comeback in the heart of Europe and how it is dealing with its neighbours: Aesculapian snakes, foxes and falcons. But it is also the story of one man's dream that came true: Manfred Eckenfellner is the Hoopoe Whisperer, and through his passion the birds found their way back to the Wagram. Even cultivated landscapes like Wagram's vineyards offer countless opportunities for wild animals to find new niches. Kestrels use castle towers to breed and bee-eaters live in the same layers of loess vintners grow their grapes on.
Hyena - Queen of the Masai Mara
It's not the lion or the cheetah, but the hyena that is the real monarch of the Masai Mara - the winner in the competition for prey and territory and the fight for survival. Michigan State University biologist Kay Holekamp and her team have studied the behaviour of hyena clans and show that their matriarchal society is highly organized using sophisticated vocalizations for communication. Hyenas are effective solo hunters but deadly in a coordinated attack.
The city of Vienna is world famous for its position on the River Danube. Every day Vienna's residents consume around 370,000 cubic metres of water, which is not uncommon for a city of over a million people. However the fact that not a single drop comes from the great river is amazing. All of the water that is drunk or cooked with, that flows through showers, sinks and fountains into the city's drains and wastewater treatment plants comes from the alps. Vienna's exclusive water factory lies in the eastern limestone alps. The Rax-Schneeberg region in Lower Austria and the Styrian Hoschschwab are the natural reservoirs from which water has flowed to Vienna for almost 150 years. It follows the natural inclines from the mountains along two pipelines into the federal capital, where it collects in large reservoirs and is distributed via a network that is approximately 3000 km long.
The film shows the routes that this diverted mountain stream takes through the city and how the precious liquid transforms both itself and the city; it explains why Vienna General Hospital is the city's greatest water consumer, accompanies dirty water through one of the most modern wastewater treatment plants in the world and observes its wondrous transformation on its way to the Danube.
Little Monsters - Hide & Cheat
This 3D documentary presents some of the animal kingdom's strangest survival strategies. The most startling behavior patterns aren't found among the classic big animals like lions or polar bears, but among nature's smaller creatures: poison dart frogs, chameleons, praying mantises and scorpions, to name but a few. These «Little Monsters» are masters of survival. Until recently, only a handful of scientists had the technical means to study them up close. But now, with its ingenious combination of slow-motion 3D and time-lapse 3D sequences, «Little Monsters» sets new standards in the third dimension, yielding unbelievable scenes the world has never seen and «felt» before.
The Alps - Realm of the Golden Eagle
1.200 kilometeres long, massive chains of rock form the most famous mountain range of the world - the Alps.
Teaming Up with Wolves
What is the difference between the domestic dog and the wolf if both of them have been raised under the same conditions? What skills got lost and which were gained in the process of domestication? How far are wolves prepared to co-operate with humans, and do they accept domestic dogs as co-operation partners? To get answers to these questions, researchers Friederike Range, Zsofia Viranyi and Professor Kurt Kotrschal have taken up the task - for the first time ever in canid research - to raise a pack of wolves by hand. The Wolf Science Center currently holds three one-year old timber wolves and six pups. In the beginning the animals need extensive attention. The intimate rapport with humans and wolves primarily happens through feeding with the bottle and close body contact at night. It is not yet possible to say which task dogs can do better or worse than wolves, if any. Only one thing is clear: wolves act more independent from humans. The film follows the four American pups for a full year and records their upbringing, their progress in the daily work, their social development and their behavior in the various testing centers.
Zambezi - The Thundering River
It's one of the least-known rivers on earth - yet it flows for nearly 2,800 kilometers and belongs to six countries. The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa, and along its course it sweeps through a series of natural spectacles - from the blooming of a thousand musasa trees to the rains that will flood its banks, anointing the land with rich silt. But none compete with the river's crescendo - the Victoria Falls - one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Zambezi is a haven and a source of life to a vast array of wild animals and humans alike. Filmed throughout the changing seasons, we follow the river in Part 1 from its headwaters to the thundering power of the Victoria Falls. In Part 2 the Zambezi gently flows towards the Indian Ocean, taking in some of Nature's grandest wildlife spectacles. The story of the Zambezi is one of constant change, of life and death - it is the story of Africa itself.
Rift Valley - The Great Rift
Emerging 35 million years ago as a mysterious rift along the surface of the Earth, this 6,000 kilometer-long fault line between eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula has created not only a unique geological phenomenon, but also landscapes of immense beauty. This award-winning three-parter takes us on a breathtaking journey along several of the most beautiful and fascinating landscapes on earth, using latest HD filming techniques to provide magnificently enhanced vistas and astounding insights into our planet's treasury of wildlife.
So Long, Fu Long
The 2007 birth of a baby panda in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo caused a flurry of excitement. Fu Long, the «happy dragon», was the first baby panda ever to be naturally conceived and born in Europe. From the beginning the black and white bundle of fur was the darling of onlookers and visitors to the zoo.
Director Heinz Leger documented this sensation and followed the little one's development from his very first day. In November 2009 the time finally came for the adolescent panda to leave Vienna. This film looks back on the highlights of the past two years, how Fu Long practised getting into his transport crate, and accompanies him on his journey to China. Upon arrival, initially Fu Long will live with other young pandas in a small community of bachelors before hopefully producing his own offspring in a few years time and so contributing to the preservation of his species.
Sea of Creepy Monsters
The Lembeh strait to the north of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is a unique hotspot of marine biodiversity. Countless amazing creatures thrive in the underwater landscape around Lembeh Island. Over four years, a wildlife filmmaker couple spent many months in the region capturing hundreds of hours of behavior, lots of it never filmed before. Among other unique behavior they were able to shoot an Anglerfish swallowing a Lionfish - a scene resembling Godzilla gulping down Dracula! Elegant seahorses, thumb-splitting Mantis shrimps, and deadly mini-octopuses are just some of the remarkable creatures most underwater films tend to overlook. Only the ground-breaking macro photography in this film can reveal the awe and beauty of life - in the reef of little monsters.
Messengers of the Gods
For the first time this film shows exactly how butterflies live and how they develop through their different phases. The documentary travely the entire world and includes numerous first film recordings and rare species. These include the flesh-eating caterpillar from Hawaii and Malaysia's unique blood-sucking moth. This "Vampire" is even able to transmit AIDS.
Magic of the Mountains
This is the story of a land, where forces of nature are at play - beyond all things that a human can ever dominate or be able to conquer. The birth of Tyrol was one of collisions, where previous far apart continents were conjoined, wedged together and piled up on top of each other. The result is a steep world of diversity on the smallest area: depending on the depth of a valley or the height of a mountain ridge, depending on its direction and position at the edge or in the middle of the Alps, depending on whether its slope is steep or flat, there is a spot in Tyrol that is icy or mild, lush or paltry, dry or full of water. This film presents the fascinating world of the high mountains with all their diverse flora and fauna and the living conditions throught the seasons.
Link with the Lynx
With large tufted ears, a short tail and a trusting look, one could almost believe that lynxes are just big cats. In their hearts, however, they are wild and untamed. They are the tigers of Europe. This is the story of a hard earned friendship. On the one side is Milos Majda, a quiet, nature loving ranger at the Mala Fatra national park in Slovakia. On the other side are two small lynxes, fresh from the zoo. With Milos' help, it's hoped the lynxes will return to the home of their ancestors in the forests of Mala Fatra in the heart of Slovakia. For two years Milos Majda and the biologist and animal filmmaker Tomas Hulik follow the journey of the lynx siblings from their warm nursery inside a cabin into the wilderness.
Secrets of the Flooded Forest - Danube National Park
After beginning in Vienna, the Danube riverbank forests extend to the gates of Bratislava, linking the two capitals like a green ribbon, forming a unique wildlife habitat in the heart of Europe. A few years ago a 36-kilometer section was turned into a national park that now protects the last undeveloped stretch of the Danube and also the last riparian zone of its size in Central Europe. In the forests along the Danube the water's power can once again influence plant and animal habitats. Everything here is in motion and subject to constant change. Growth and destruction, birth and death are integral to this landscape. And so an outstanding variety of habitats and species has been created: white-tailed eagles breed in the woods, mud minnows and pond turtles populate the old arms of the river, beavers build their dams on the banks. The Danube National Park: a hidden wilderness full of beauty and drama, and a refuge for an astounding variety of flora and fauna.
Gene Pool of the Alps - Alpine Zoo Innsbruck
The Alpine Zoo Innsbruck is unique in many ways. Situated at 750 metres above sea level, it is regarded as Europe's highest-altitude zoo. It covers approximately 4 hectares and, with 150 different species, is home to the world's most complete collection of alpine animals. This makes it purely a themed zoo, where only animals from the alpine area are kept and displayed - there are no lions, elephants or giraffes here. The film concentrates above all on the zoo's dedicated and highly specialised breeding and resettlement projects. Absolute rarities that worldwide are only kept in the Tyrolean alpine zoo are also presented. The documentary shows in an entertaining way how fascinating Austria's nature, its exploration and preservation are.
Extreme! - From Drought to Deluge
In the 21st century, the average rainfall will increase and likewise its intensity. Many party of Earth will therefore drown in rain and snow, whilst other parts will dry out. What should we expect? How should we deal with these new conditions? How to adapt to it? One answer can be found there where humankind has already gotten used to exceptionally high rainfalls, there where there is never a drop of rainfall, and there where rain and snowfall reach world records. The French Island, La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean offers almost certainly a guarantee for torrential rainfall. When it comes to world records, La Réunion is by far the champion. The big legend amidst the places with the most rain is the city Cherrapunjee in Eastern India. Cherrapunjee is proud to call itself the wettest place on Earth. Here one has to get acclimated to five months of continous rainfall. According to the most recent measurements, the amount of downpour is even increasing. On the other extreme there is the Atacama desert in Chile. It is considered the driest desert on Earth. Allegedly, some places have not even seen rainfall for four thousand years.
Arlberg - The Hidden Paradise
Snow masses pile up in abundance on the famous slopes. The wind creates bizarre snowdrifts on the steep mountain ridges. The Arlberg is the embodiment of an idyllic winter and the cradle of alpine skiing. However, this famous ski resort offers a lot more than you might expect. Untouched nature is preserved in the barely accessible cliffs. Winter is the toughest time for ibexes and chamois. The meagre fodder is buried deep under the snow and the animals can only find it where avalanches have cleared the slopes. Wintry splendour is only one facet - Arlberg's full beauty remains hidden under the snow for almost half the year...
Mount St. Helens - Life from Zero
In 1980 Mount St. Helens exploded in one of the most powerful eruptions of the 20th century. Everything living was buried beneath 300 feet of avalanche debris, covered with steaming mud, topped with a superheated layer of frothy rock from deep within the centre of the earth. It seemed as though St. Helens might remain wasteland forever. Then one day, everything changed. A single lupine plant bursting through the hundreds of acres of pumice was the first sign of the return of life.
What has happened since then remains the secret of the award winning biologist Charlie Crisafulli - the only scientist who has stayed with the site for over the last 27 years.
For the first time exclusively he will provide an insight into this amazing resurrection. Original natural history sequences using macro-photography capture the first moments of rebirth. Aerial views and archive footage of the crater and the surrounding landscape as well as underwater filming combined with state-of-the-art CGI will visualize the ecological miracle. «Life from Zero» tells a unique story of determination and perseverance - of nature struggling for survival and one man sacrificing all to witness that miracle of nature's return unfolding.
Surrounded by barren cities, sterile concrete or over maintained, uniform patches of green, more and more animals are losing their last places of retreat. The city continues to grow inexorably but, where humans fail to impose their order, nature sprouts and crawls out of the tiny cracks in the asphalt and concrete and re-conquers its territory. Disused land is often the last place of retreat for wild animals in the city. More than two thousand species of plants can be found in Vienna alone, as well as half of all Austrian breeding birds and two thirds of the country's mammals. Many disused areas in Vienna are home to a host of threatened species like, for example, crested larks, nightingales, praying mantisses or firebellied toads. Countless mammals, birds, insects and amphibians are making their homes here once again. The city's wilderness is characterised by their comings and goings, their struggle to survive and their quest to find increasingly scarce resources and habitats.
With a population of around 3 million, Nairobi is one of the largest cities in Africa. However this metropolis is surrounded by wilderness that extends into the city itself. Just a few metres from the airport lies the Nairobi National Park, with its vast savannah and majestic wildlife. Beside the highway, separated only by a wire fence, lions, hyenas, giraffes and rhinoceros wander through grassland, while hundreds of marabous breed in the tree-lined streets in the city centres and scavenge on rubbish dumps. Hordes of apes entertain (and infuriate) picknickers in the city's parks; leopards hunt pets in wealthy suburbs, while hyenas scavenge in the city's shantytowns. This is a journey of discovery through a great city full of contradictions and teeming with nature, where humans and animals live together as - sometimes unwilling - neighbours.
Termites - The Inner Sanctum
They cannot tolerate sunlight; some of them are even blind. However they are one of the world's most ingenious builders: Termites. They build high-risers that are, relatively speaking, 25 times higher than the Empire State Building in New York. They are the only animals that have managed to build an air-conditioning system without electricity. Their nests are architectural masterpieces that rise up to eight meters from the ground and contain brood chambers for larvae, corridors for transportation and fungal gardens for nutrition. «Termites - The Inner Sanctum» takes us along a journey into another world. Visit the skillfully built termite mounds in the savannah, termite nests in the tropical rainforest with their colossal columns of termites foraging for food - and the termites that wreak terrible damage to wood-framed homes. Filmed in the US, Kenya and Borneo.
The Saga of the White-Tailed Eagle
The sea eagle was once widespread throughout almost all of Europe and graced the coats of arms of many different countries. During the 19th and 20th centuries it was driven to the brink of extinction by hunting, the increased use of pesticides and the destruction of its habitat. This touching animal drama recounts the true life story of one individual bird, observed over the course of a year. Beginning with its birth in a lowland forest in Central Europe the film team follows the eagle's first outing with its brothers and sisters and subsequent distant migrations to places as far away as Scandinavia. Finally it chronicles its dramatic lead poisoning, recovery and resettlement in a nature reserve.
In 25 years the nuclear wasteland around Chernobyl has re-emerged as a complete ecosystem and one of Europe's largest wildlife sanctuaries. And yet, it is radioactive. Where humans are unable to live, nature is flourishing. Somewhere in this nuclear wilderness, there are packs of radioactive wolves, wandering through abandoned towns. Here they live in large packs as they used to. There are now an estimated 300+ wolves making the most of this deceptively beautiful landscape. But are these wolves mutants? Have they been affected by nuclear contamination after the '86 explosion? This film embarks on a journey to investigate the fate of the wolves and other animals in the contaminated wilderness.
Puszta - Land of Salt and Sand
Less than an hour's drive south of Hungary's capital Budapest, Central Europe's last and only wandering sand dunes surprise the traveller. They are in continuous motion, shaping a landscape one would only expect in Africa. The Puszta is home to a unique wildlife community including wolves, steppe polecats, flocks of great bustards and scores of other exotic birds.
Secrets of the Adriatic
For a long time, the Adriatic Sea used to be Central Europe's only link to the orient. This small sea became a symbol of entry to the vast, exotic world, allowing the city of Venice to call itself «Queen of the Seven Seas». Cultural riches are embedded on the Adriatic's coast against an unparalleled natural backdrop. On the northern coasts of the Adriatic stretches one of Europe's largest wetlands, which is not only a paradise for migratory birds and waders, but also the northernmost colony of flamingoes. This film follows the trail of the highly endangered griffon vultures whose last colonies are to be found on just a few islands and some rocky cliffs of the Dalmatian coast. It reveals a range of animals that even the most tenacious of Adriatic holidaymakers rarely see, including sand vipers, mongooses and Greek tortoises in the olive groves.
Mystery of the Fairy Circles
When it rains in the Namib, a thick carpet of grass covers the sand and stony desert. But this green layer is punctuated by bare circular patches, as regular as if drawn by a compass. And there are not just one or two of them, but hundreds of thousands. Observed from the air, they could be innumerable golf bunkers - or an abstract painting: «Red dots on green background». They appear between 60 to 120 kilometres from the coast and Stretch from South Africa to Angola. They are bordered by a ring of tall, thick grass, which stands out from the surrounding sparse vegetation. But where did these mysterious «fairy circles» come from? Are they caused by mineral compounds in the ground? Did poisonous plants or poison gas contaminate the subsoil? Are they the work of insects? Or is it the impact of meteorites that is responsible? And what crucial role do they play in the ecosystem? Three scientific teams have conflicting theories, but finally the amazing secret of the fairy circles is revealed!
The Wild Balkans
Wolves hunt their prey in the valleys between high-ranging dunes, bears and lynxes wander through dense primeval forest, and the big lakes are a magnet for hundreds of bird species. That is the so-called «Balkan». Today the «Balkans» stand for a Europe that hardly exists elsewhere. The mountains of Montenegro harbour one of Europe's last primeval forests with trees over 400 years of age. In the difficultly accessible hinterland we find the Tara National Park with the deepest gorge in the Karst Mountains - the 1.300 meters deep Tara gorge. Nearby Lake Skadar is home for 270 species of birds; no other lake in Europe can claim such diversity. Europe's last coastal forest area can be found in Albania and in Bulgaria and Romania huge bat colonies live in the cave-dotted mountains. In Serbia one can cross the «European Sahara», a desert covering a surface of 30.000 hectares.
This documentary takes us on the journey through untouched wilderness in a region that has disreputably been called a powder keg and where conflicts have drawn attention away from its hidden treasures.
Land of a Thousand Vineyards
Italy, California and South Africa are not the only places famous for their wines. Right in the heart of Europe, Austria can also look back over a past suffused with music and wine, both of which remain inseparably linked to this day. It is the vastness of Austria's «Weinviertel» or wine growing region that captivates visitors. No other region of Austria suggests this feeling of endless landscape quite so vividly. A soft, hilly landscape, blessed with a warm climate, that is cultivated by humans but has maintained much of its original character - a quiet landscape with a considerable history and hidden treasures. And the Weinviertel hasn't been given its name for nothing - wine growing defines the land in all its forms and has always been the distinguishing feature for the inhabitants of this unique region.
Year of the Hedgehog
It's springtime, the air is tepid, the skylarks chirp, and spring flowers cover the meadows and the forest grounds. Out of a pile of leaves a fluttery, sniffling snout tip appears: it's a hedgehog awakening from its winter sleep heading into the light of a new year, having only two things in mind: food and finding a partner. This documentary accompanies for a year one of the most popular yet still unknown animals of our landscape. The hedgehog is not only part of the oldest mammal species on our planet, newest findings disclose that it will stay among us for many years to come. Neither the massive destruction of natural habitats nor the horrendous road kill can seriously endanger its population. Award-winning wildlife filmmaker Kurt Mündl will present never before seen details and behavioural patterns of the spiky fellow. With special camera techniques he is in pursuit of the most interesting questions. What does a hedgehog really eat and drink? What do their newborns look like and do they have quills? Is a hedgehog immune against snakevenom and why has it been a symbol of luck over the last centuries?
Sky Hunters - The World of the Dragonfly
This film presents dragonflies as they have never been seen before. Fascinating close up shots take us into the world of these insects, which have lived on earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Spectacular super slow motion shots and elaborate computer animation uncover, for the first time, how dragonflies capture their prey at lightning speed while flying.
City of Steel, City of Life
Linz, the capital of the Province of Upper Austria, serves as European Capital of Culture in 2009. In recent years, Linz has blossomed into a model European city that places its technology- and knowledge-based urban industrial centre at equal footing to its manifold cultural events. Against this dynamic backdrop, Linz has similarly managed to demonstrate respect to nature by including ecological factors on all levels of urban planning. Linz 09 - the city in which industry, culture and nature melt into one. This film takes the viewer on an adventure trip of a special kind by following the everyday lives of wild animals that have chosen, of all places in the world, Linz as their habitat. It ventures through the Old Town with quiet paws and then takes you by nosedive to the old tower of the cathedral or in agile leaps through the botanical gardens. Linz is presented through an extraordinary angle - whether sniffed out by dogs and cats, seen by falcon or fish or experienced by bumble bees or foxes.
River without Frontiers
The Morava river with its forests is one of the most beautiful and ecologically valuable riverscapes featuring the richest biodiversity in all of Central Europe. Like a green ribbon, the riverine forests of the Morava - together with those of the Danube and the Dyje - link the Alps with the Carpathians, forming a bridge between Eastern and Central Europe. The infl uence of the Pannonian climate with its hot and dry summers combines with the slowly receding high waters to form a mosaic of extremely different habitats: moist meadows lie close to sand dunes, riverine forests alternate with dry primeval oak forests. This enormous diversity of habitats creates a refuge for animal and plant species, a specifi c composition that cannot be found in any other place.
Nature Tech - How Engineers Are Inspired by Nature's Top Designs
Why are blossoms never dirty and can we also make our cars that way? Why can geckos walk on the ceiling and can we use their tricks to create better adhesives? Why is the spider's web tougher than steel? Exciting new developments in computer technology, chemistry and physics are now enabling us to understand Nature's designs better than ever before. Scientists are not simply trying to copy nature - they are taking hints, extracting principles and applying winning designs of evolution in a new, human context.
The Four Alps
The European Alps are the most famous mountains on Earth. However, there are three other mountain ranges that owe their names to the first European Explorers, one in the Northern and two in the Southern Hemisphere. The European and Japanese Alps are almost identical worlds yet the Australian and the Southern Alps of New Zealand couldn't be more different. This film is a fast-paced roller coaster ride from the top to down-under.
O-Two - The Molecule that Made Our World
Using latest CGI combined with live-action reconstructions, this film follows the journey of a molecule of oxygen, an adventure that takes place over a span of thousands of millions of years. The story begins with the photosynthesis of a bacteria - and in doing so it produces the molecule of oxygen gas. The way of the oxygen unfolds and at times it is torn apart and becomes part of other molecules. It is involved in the conflagrations that accompanied the death of the dinosaurs after the great asteroid impact, then travels through a human body to combine with haemoglobin in the blood and to take part in chemical reactions in individual cells. For a while the oxygen even spends some time as ozone, protecting earth from deadly radiation but then connects to a carbon dioxide molecule to help warming earth and bring about unknown consequences of climate change. Following this fascinating story, the film explores key moments in the history of earth and science in an unusual and visual way. «O-Two» is an intriguing and ambitious journey through biology, chemistry and physics.
Madeira - Emerald in the Atlantic
Madeira is considered as «the green emerald» in the Atlantic ocean. The island's mountains are overgrown with million-years-old primeval forests. The Laurisilva forest, the largest of its kind in Europe, covers an area of 22,000 hectares and has been proclaimed to be UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 1999. The majority of all plant and animal species that occur on Madeira are global endemics. In his film, multi-award winner Kurt Mündl tells the story of discovery and colonization of the archipelago and shows endangered nature and traditional culture in extraordinary pictures: From whales to Europe's smallest bird, from traditional sugar cane processing to the centuries-old craft of basket-making.
Jackals - Out of Africa
In some cultures, jackals were pursued and condemned as pests that fed on parasite-infested carcasses. In others, such as Ancient Egypt, they were divinely celebrated. This documentary accompanies a young scientist, who is drawn to these mythical mammals, and takes us on a journey to explore golden jackals, from Egypt to the barren hills of Greece. Other showplaces are the reeds of the Hungarian Kis Balaton, the Romanian Danube delta, the Austrian alpine pastures and the forests of Croatia, where the jackals share their living space with wolves and bears.
Trees of Tempting Fruit
The Mostviertel, Austria's pear country, stretches from the river Danube to the Alps, right in the heart of Austria. Pear trees are scattered across the landscape and produce 200 different kinds of pears. Their naturally tart fruits have been used for centuries to extract the delicious pear cider (perry). As production has grown over time, »Most«, the Austrian name for cider, has given the charming region its name. From a geographical point of view, pear country is spared the climatic extremes of other Alpine regions in Austria and has thus become one of Europe's remaining sanctuaries for a variety of rare, altogether 3000 different - including some endangered - species: the little owl, the European otter, the hoopoe, or the curlew.
Vienna's Danube Island, a river island artificially created some 20 years ago, has become a recreational retreat for tens of thousands of city dwellers. To tourists, it is an attraction praised in every traveller's guide. No-one associates the island with wildlife and wilderness, and yet, unnoticed by most visitors, a secret army of wild animals has conquered the island and turned it into their own hunting and breeding grounds.
The Tiger and the Monk
Wat Pa Luangta Bua is a monastery of meditation, situated far away from any civilization, about 200 kilometers west of Bangkok, and here, silence, peace and harmony reign. Every afternoon, a daily ritual is observed - nonchalant Buddhist monks take their ten 3-5 year old tigers out on a leash for a walk through the bordering region of Burma. They dote upon their tigers, feed them and celebrate them as their most sacred animal. The monks treat grown-up animals with reverence and respect although they cuddle and play with the cubs.
The tigers were once the «aristocrats» of the jungle of South East Asia but today, this undisputed ruler of the animal kingdom is one of the most endangered species in the world. Three of the eight subspecies are already extinct, a fate that could also overcome the others. Only an estimated 500 to 2000 tigers of Indochina still inhabit the intact jungle regions of South China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam. This documentary portrays the harmonious relationship between predators and humans without disregarding the monk's maxim that «a tiger will always be a tiger, even if it feeds from the hand. It will always be a wild animal».
Pastures in the Sky
A dairymaid in Styria, a sheep farmer in Eastern Tyrol and a shepard in Vorarlberg offer insight into a life that is characterised through beautiful scenery as well as through a culture immensely rich in traditions. Not only does the spectacular cattle drive up to the Lechtaler Alps, when 450 animals have to make it across a ridge 2500 meters above sea level, impress the spectator. In addition to that, it is the newfound appreciation of the alp as a vacationing place that captures the attention. For example, the rustic huts of Oberstalleralm in Eastern Tyrol are completely booked throughout the year 2007, despite the fact that there are no professional feel goodanimators on hand but the main attractions are comprised of a simple wood stove, running water and fresh milk. Maria Magdalena Koller shows life as it is on the Alp, one of the most traditional ways of living in Austria - unfolding within the breathtakingly impressive theatre of the Austrian mountains.
Tasmania - Paradise at the End of the World
Tasmania makes an impression with its unique landscape, architecture and scenery. Its largely unknown wilderness has always attracted adventurers and scientists. One of these courageous men was the Austrian botanist, Gustav Weindorfer. His adventurous expedition lead him to Cradle Mountain. He was deeply moved by this spectacular world of mountains and gave his utmost to bring that wonderful experience to others. Today the Cradle Mountain National Park allows visitors from all over the world to indulge in this breathtaking landscape.
The Otter's Trail
During the mid-80s, zoologists still regarded the European otter as a species on the verge of extinction. What they did not take into consideration was the fact that the shy aquatic animals are extremely adaptable. Using their intelligence and cleverness, they have been able to re-conquer parts of Europe during the last few years, including their old homeland, Austria. However, their settlements in Austria are small islands and the correspondingly small populations are still very much endangered. The documentary tracks down the otter in the Austrian Waldviertel and southern Styria and leads to the extensive areas of ponds in the neighboring Czech Republic and Hungary, which have become a true otter paradise, thanks to devoted nature conservationists.
«Napoli Dogs» is a soap opera set in the charming harbor side of Naples. More resembling a feature film than a documentary we follow the fate of a pack of street dogs as they struggle for survival. Love affairs and gang raids guaranteed! Seven dogs, utterly diverse characters with diverse looks, are the inner circle of a notorious four-legged street gang, the Napoli Dogs. They are known all around Naples and feared by many. When it comes to staking out their territory, they can be very tough. The perseverance of the scruffy males makes owners of pretty, well-groomed lady dogs shudder. Helplessly, restaurant chefs watch their compassionate guests feed their prime cut steaks to the clever gang.
The film tells the story of runaway domestic dogs braving the city jungle, of their amazing survival strategies and of the rituals reconfirming the bonds between the members of the pack.
Land of the Falling Lakes
The Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest Nationalpark in Europe, is located in Croatia`s Dinaric Mountains where the olm, lynx, black stork and Ural owl live together in an enchanted world of thunderous waterfalls, cascading lakes subterranean caverns. The film follows the course of the water taking its wondrous paths through the limestone.
Blue Danube, Black Sea
Romantic river banks and unspoilt nature - wherever the Danube flows these types of landscapes dominate. This comprehensive cinematic portrait of Europe's second longest river presents numerous scenes of heavenly beauty along the banks of the Danube, as well as the tension between humans and nature and civilisation and wilderness. Dams and power stations alternate with sections of natural wilderness along this mighty river, which flows through metropolises such as Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest and untouched natural landscapes like the Danube-Auen national park and the Kopac?ki Rit. Further south, between the Carpathian mountain range in Romania and the Serbian Ore mountains, the river passes through the so called Iron Gate, 137 kilometres of gorges that are among the largest in Europe. The final opening of the Danube into the Black Sea couldn't be more spectacular. The mighty river expires in a unique labyrinth of water, mud and reeds - the Danube delta. It is the last remaining major river delta in Europe and the largest reed bed on earth, used by huge colonies of pelicans, sea ravens, sea eagles and spoonbills to nest and breed.
Tales from the Vienna Woods
Vienna is the world's only metropolis with a large, continuous forest area in its immediate vicinity - the Vienna Woods, an area blessed with an unexpected wealth of animal and plant life.
A team of natural history film-makers will pursue the wild boar, stalk the stags and crawl with the ants to portray the living Vienna Woods over the period of one year.
Mountains in the Sun
The landscape of southern Lower Austria is characterised by the last undulations of the Alps. This film takes a cinematic journey through these so-called «sunny mountains», showing their diverse nature and cultures in a comprehensive portrait of the region and its inhabitants. Some farmers in the region breed «alpine salmon», while others have developed a sideline - using traditional methods to extract the resin from black pine trees, which can then be used to produce cosmetics, turpentine and even resin for the strings of musical instruments. The area between the Rax and Buckliger Welt is popular with the Viennese. Almost on their doorstep, the region is a paradise for extreme sports junkies, nature lovers, culture fans and to those looking for rest and recuperation. Foreign tourists also discovered this magnificent landscape many years ago. Experience this scenic treasure in the heart of Europe with its breathtaking panoramas, unique animal and plant life and tradition-conscious inhabitants.
Alien Insect - The Praying Mantis
Worldwide there are 2.000 species of praying mantis. This film explores the world of these «real aliens». In unprecedented images it shows how mantises live, reproduce and die. But biological processes are not the film's only focus. It features the largest and rarest representatives of the mantis family, several of which have never been filmed before.
The Carpathians - Life in Dracula's Forests
The Carpathian mountains, Europe's largest and mightiest natural bulwark, are coming to life again. When the shepherd Vasile wanders the forests of Count Dracula, his path leads him across superb cultural landscapes formed by the struggle with Mother Nature, shaped by ancient myths and customs. There he meets Delia, a contemporary young girl with a strong desire for the «old life». Eight months later in winter, when the harsh life of the wandering shepherd comes to a brief standstill, the circle closes. Vasile marries Delia, and out there in the ice and snow, the shepherds wrap up warm again in their white furs.
Sudan - The Nubian Caravans
They are faster than race horses, more stubborn than donkeys and tougher than any other creature tamed by man. Since time immemorial, camels have determined the lifestyle of the various nomadic tribes in Sudan. This documentary introduces us to the tribes of the Hadendowas and Rashidis and takes a look on their life together with their camels, their breeding and training. The most important events every spring are big festivities with sword fights and a camel race for hundreds of miles. Thousands of men sometimes ride for days to come and compete with their animals. It shows us unadulterated nomadic tribes who have lived by their traditions in the same way for centuries. With and from their animals - the camels.
The Treasure of the Alps - National Park Hohe Tauern
When the first humans advanced into the Alps, they encountered dense, primeval forests. Over the centuries, they cleared the woodlands, created fields and pastures, and built their villages higher and higher in the mountains. These early farmers were followed by many wild animals that found a new habitat in the changed landscape: wood grouse occupied the forest glades, rock partridges filled the mountain meadows, and red deer populated the alpine pastures. For some wild animals that had been sparse in the ancient forests - like the black grouse, marmots, and the common adder - human intervention created significant extensions to their habitats. »Treasure of the Alps« is a rare portrait of the co-existence of alpine wildlife and humans - a story that began thousands of years ago, and still continues in the Hohe Tauern National Park today.
This film takes a look at the various ways poisons have been used throughout history, using dramatic reconstructions of some of the most infamous poisonings. But the film doesn't stop there. Using advanced computer animation, we travel inside the bodies of a victim of the Borgias, as well as Cleopatra, Hannibal, Socrates, Emperor Leopold and a host of other unfortunate victims, to witness from the inside how they died. The film follows humanity's macabre search over thousands of years for the perfect poison. A poisoner needs a poison that is tasteless and colorless, and therefore won't be noticed by the victim. It needs to work in low doses, so a poisoner doesn't have to feed his victim large quantities. And it needs to be reliably and quickly lethal. Finally, it needs to be undetectable after the event, so the poisoner leaves no trail of guilt. In fact, for preference it should mimic the symptoms of a disease, so no-one even suspects poisoning. Not surprisingly, such a perfect poison is not easy to find or make, and the search has occupied some of humanity's finest minds.
Sahara - The English Patient's Desert
Even today, the Sahara is full of miracles. Until way into the 20th century, vast areas remained unexplored. In the early thirties, the Austrian-Hungarian adventurer Ladislaus E. Almásy who later gained world-wide fame as the historical figure on whom the Hollywood movie «The English Patient» was based on, had undertaken several expeditions to various blank spots on the Sahara's map. Highly awarded film-maker Michael Schlamberger has followed Almásy's tracks to reveal the most amazing chapter of the world's biggest desert. The desert explorer had stumbled upon one of the trickiest riddles of climate history. The world's largest desert must once have been a lush Garden of Eden - a daring thought that raised great controversy with Almásy's peers. Following his footsteps, Schlamberger searched for evidence from the most thrilling chapter in the Sahara's natural history.
Let it snow!
«Snow is snow is snow» one might be tempted to say. Yet people in the Arctic have hundred of different names for snow while other cultures have never seen it. Nor is snowfall the same as snowfall.
In this extraordinary documentary we are going to witness very different kinds and situations of snowing: from howling blizzards to the gentlest and loveliest of weather events, from huge handkerchiefs quietly falling to the needle-sharp attack of hard, heavy grains. Snow - what is it really? How is it created - naturally and artificially? Thanks to CGI and new camera techniques we can actually see this process for the first time and listen to the incredible, inaudible music of snowfall, of myriads of tiny crystals touching and rolling and settling. Each snowflake is unique and bears more secrets than we could imagine. Did you know that different kinds of music influence the crystallization process and the shape of snowflakes? And have you ever imagined that we would be able to produce artificial snow that melts at 30 degrees Celsius? With this in mind: just let it snow!
Night of the Salamander
The film reveals all the miracles and curiosities in the salamander world that, until now, were only known to a few experts in the field. In technical terms, the film team went to some lengths: Thermal image cameras show that salamanders are as cold as the night they inhabit, night vision cameras allow the viewer to watch them in the dark, magnetic resonance tomography and x-ray images show us the inside of their bodies.
Land of Crystal Waters
This film shows the rich water wildlife in Alpine rivers and lakes from both the fisherman's and the fishes' perspective. It's a portrait of a complete river system, following the water's journey from glaciers through cave systems and canyons through mountain streams, crystal-clear lakes and, finally, down one of Austria's most beautiful and swift rivers, the Traun, all the way to the wooded wetlands where it finally calms before flowing into the Danube. Used for shipping lumber and salt already centuries ago, the river has always encouraged a special union of man and nature. The film takes the viewers on a journey above and under water, showing one of the continent's most attractive mountain landscapes from the perspective of an Alpine river, its wild inhabitants and its human visitors.
The Prater - The Green Stadium
In the thicket of the meadows, badgers, foxes and deer are wandering around, while by the waters, Mandarin ducks are mating. They were imported for hunting purposes from China more than a hundred years ago and since then have established their place in the landscape. The Danube's bayous are not only a paradise for waterfowl of all sorts but also a haven for beavers, who chop down tree after tree. Life flourishes in the meadows of the Prater, Vienna's green lung. The 6.000.000 m2 big area of the Prater is full of «animal» surprises and it is exactly here where the 2008 UEFA European Championship will take place. This film portrays the diverse animal life in and around the stadium and will be available to international partners in time before the opening of the Euro 2008.
The Valley of the Ravens
At the edge of the Dead Mountains lies an enchanting, sparsely populated area - the inner Alm Valley. Especially in winter up to 120 half-grown ravens gather in the area around the wild animal park to steal food. This is the biggest permanent settlement of ravens in all of central Europe. They are blacker than night and smarter than parrots: ravens are capable of astonishing mental feats. How well does their bird's brain really work? This documentary probes deep into the raven's soul and follows his awkward flight around the entire globe.
Prince Of The Alps
Featuring panoramic scenes of lush landscapes, Prince of the Alps travels high into the mountains, where chamois and ibex are right at home on the nearly vertical cliffs, marmots emerge late from hibernation, and red deer prove their agility. The little prince enjoys special status in the herd, thanks to his mother's social rank. She leads him to the best feeding places and teaches him about his new surroundings. His first brush with civilization is a herdsman calling out to his cattle. Unlike drivers on the roads, and the hunters and hikers who also invade their world, the herdsman poses no threat to deer in the mountains. The young calf also learns his first lesson about dangerous weather in the mountains, where storms rage and lighting kills. In September, the mountains echo with the calls of the great red deer stags. During the six weeks or so of the autumn rut, the stags compete for the chance to father next year's calves before the seasons change and winter claims the mountains. Snow, ice, cold, and hunger will also claim their share of the herds before spring returns. Many deer find it hard to feed and finding shelter takes all the energy they have. Seven months into his life, the little prince is left alone and his chances of survival are slim. But when the sights and sounds of spring once again appear, and the red deer mothers and calves make their way up to the high mountain pastures, a one-year-old red deer calf with tiny antlers sets out with them. He has earned his place as Prince of the Alps.
Ol' Man River - Mighty Mississippi
There is no river on earth where so many dreams were dreamt, where so many dreams came true or fell apart, where the dividing line between life and death is as thin as on the Mississippi - North America's great river. The Mississippi is the world's third largest river. From the Canadian border to New Orleans, from Helena in the Rocky Mountains to Pittsburgh, it drains 31 US states and two Canadian provinces. Since the first human beings set foot on the North-American subcontinent, the face of the river has changed dramatically. This epic film shows the great American river in cinematically beautiful images and emotions. Moving cameras show the endlessness of the land, the impenetrable wilderness and, in stark contrast, the shining steel facades of modern metropolises. The film also reveals a fascinating world inhabited by rare plant and animal wildlife with a distinctly exotic touch. At the same time, it invites us on a journey through history. In several episodes, with the aid of CGI we travel into the past from characteristic sites.
Also available in 2 x 45min.
The Magic Trees of Assam
The film, set in the ravishing scenery of north east India, combines a journey and a great mystery with electrifying footage of the world's most aggressive insect. The giant honey bees have a reputation for attacking en masse and every year local people are badly stung and die. Yet an Austrian scientist is trying to discover the secrets of these enigmatic killer bees.
Power of the Rainbow
The beauty of nature's colors only becomes fully visible in sunlight, whether it is the splendid miracle of the rainbow or its various different forms in nature; none of the colors is a coincidence - not the green of the leaves, nor the red of blood or the deep black of space. The film gives an overview of the fascinating world of color in all its different manifestations; a journey from inorganic nature to plants, animals and to people. In the light of the sun all colors are contained. How is this possible? In wildlife and nature colors are messages: flowers, for instance, show insects the way to the nectar and thus to the stamens that load them with pollen and animals use colors as bait, as camouflage or to ward off enemies. Why does this communication works? This documentary tries to explain these questions with all new technology and breathtaking images.
Through an expedition to seek proof in support of the theory that one hundred and thirty million years ago the original source of the Amazon was located in the Ounianga Kébir lake district in the modern Sahara, this fascinating film, using the latest graphic and animation techniques, looks at the natural history, geology and archaeology of a rarely filmed region of the Sahara bordering Lake Chad.
Myths of the Alps
Since ancient times the High Alps have been a region of extremes: bizarre landscapes, powerful acts of nature and deprivation for both people and animals. In these regions, myths and sagas were especially powerful. People tried to deal with those forces of nature by explaining them with arcane tales and worshipping powerful gods to calm their fearful minds. Energy fields, stone altars for sacrifices, healing spring waters - they all have a mysterious code that continues to live on in the traditions and rituals of the communities living in remote villages far beyond civilization. This documentary traces these myths to produce a journey through time to the places our ancestors once worshipped, visiting some of the most beautiful mountain regions in the heart of Europe.
The fast-paced year in the life of a New Yorker versus the slowly changing seasons of Central Park - this documentary accompanies people of the city into their working world, into their homes and into their daily trips to the Park. At every time of day and year, a myriad of people of different backgrounds come to the Park, be it a construction worker or a famous actor. The ever enchanting grass, trees and visitors of Central Park create a feeling of magic around the green. Central Park - a unique and calm natural paradise amidst the busy streets of New York City. Living in New York since more than fifteen years, Curt Faudon has a deep connection to this entrusted space. This documentary portrays the powerful intermezzo of seasons at Central Park and follows some people with very special ties to the park.
Kamp - A River for all Senses
Far from being a long, let alone a wide river, the waters of the Kamp river feed one of the most fascinating valley landscapes of Lower Austria. From its source to its estuary, which empties into the Danube, the river descends about 745 metres in altitude. A river course like the Kamp's is a life corridor whose banks line increasingly rare wetlands, marshes, meadows, gallery forests, embankments, jungle-type shrubs and alluvial forests. While small sections of the river course were made a nature preserve, one whole section of the river was designated to become a «cultural park«. The region is shaped by its long-standing cultural tradition, the perfect soil for wine-growing, and an ever more strongly positioned gentle tourism industry.
Baja - The Other California
Baja California stretches 750 miles southwards from its famous neighbour, the State of California. On either side of this narrow strip of land lie the rich waters of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. The peninsula, for the most part, is desert. Stark but beautiful, its raw landscape, naked rocks and giant cactus contrast with the crystal blue waters of the sea that surrounds it. Isolated from other deserts Baja and the Sea of Cortez are home to weird plants and unique creatures that evolved here coping with this most extreme of places. This is a rare opportunity to see the Boojum, for example, that looks more like a 10 meter high upside down parsnip than a true plant, the blue-footed boobies that each year perform their comical courtship or Lizards that eat flies so salty they would kill them, had they not enlarged nostrils with salt glands.
The Iron Forest
The Limestare Alps National Park is a mosaic of forests of different ages. The wild, romantic waterways are important habitats for many water insects and a paradise for the water ouzel and the gray wagtail. Another rarity shown in this film is a brood of black storks that do not actually nest in the national park but frequently catch trout in the park's brooks and streams.
Appalachia - The Endless Forest
The Appalachians form a vast mountain chain, stretching along the Eastern side of the USA, from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north. Along much of their length they are clothed in rich but little known woodland, secret worlds of rivers and waterfalls, caves and forest glades inhabited by bears and deer, raccoons and possums as well as dozens of other, lesser known creatures. These are the most diverse temperate forests on Earth. Human history here is just as rich as the natural history. Long before Columbus landed in North America, Cherokee Indians moved into these forests, european settlers followed, forming their own unique culture. Over the course of a year, the film looks at these extraordinary forests through the eyes of some of the people living there.
Yucatan - In the Kingdom of the Jaguar God
The Central American peninsula of Yucatán is famous for its fascinating wildlife and exotic flora and fauna. In this exciting report, extreme diver and pilot Herbert Nitsch meets remarkable scientists and daring adventurers who take him along on subterranean diving expeditions and jungle trips. He uncovers mysterious relics of the long lost Maya culture and follows the traditional rituals of today's indigenous population. In Belize, Guatemala and Mexico he explores the last jaguar and howler monkey reserves and tests his capacity and courage in deep meandering caves and torrential rapids.
A Rugged Life in the Mountains
The Lechtal valley and the mountains towering above it have retained their virgin beauty like no other Alpine region of comparable size. However, daily life and work is often a struggle to survive, and natural catastrophes, such as mudslides, flooding from mountain torrents and avalanches often endanger this natural habitat with its picturesque landscape. This film depicts the people who live in this rugged environment and reveals how life in the Lechtal valley shapes its inhabitants and influences their struggle against nature.
The Climate Change Bug
For some time now the question of whether or not climate change is taking place has been more or less settled. The issue that remains largely unanswered however is: how will we cope with climate change and what effect will it have on our flora and fauna. Already there are signs that serious ecological and biological changes are taking place, not only far away in exotic regions of the world, but also right on our own doorstep, here in Europe. This documentary seeks to explain broadly which animals and plants are most likely to spread across Central Europe and shows what we could expect running into in a few years' time. One kind of tick, for example, which originally comes from Africa and causes malaria-like symptoms, is becoming more and more common. And this is not the only «exotic» species that are increasingly surviving the milder winters and proliferating, confronting us with a slow-going, almost hidden change in European wildlife.
The Living Cathedral
The most astonishing natural area in Austria is St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna. Between the roof tiles, at stone gargoyles and in many a damp crevice, the 850 year-old cathedral reveals itself as a botanical and zoological garden. For the film on the biology of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna the film team burst the normal boundaries of technology. They had robots weighing tons and mounted with cameras that swivel three dimensionally move through the interior of the cathedral. With a little camera cableway installed between the base and the peak of the cathedral, cameras crossed the line of flight of the peregrine falcons.
Also available: Making Of (30 min.)
Tough at the Top
The Hohe Tauern mountain range is a high Alpine wilderness harboring natural treasures. The film shows a series of barely known, extremely shy or rare animals of the high mountains of Upper Austria. It took 2 years to complete the complicated shooting during which the camera team had to cope with harsh conditions to capture an intimate look into the secretive life of these shyest of mountain creatures.
Drava - River of Peace, River of War
The Drava is one of the last big, partially untamed lowland rivers of central Europe. Whereas in Austria the river is forced into a narrow concrete corset after a few kilometers in Austria, the lower reaches of the Drava at the border between Hungary and Croatia are practically untouched. For years it was cut off from the outside world by the Iron Curtain. At that time only soldiers were permitted to enter the border area. This allowed the areas along the Drava to keep its incredible variety of plant and animal life. Here black storks breed in the solitude of the forest, kingfishers and sea eagles fish in the branches of the Drava and innumerable bank swallows make their nests in the steep slopes rising from the river.
Further downstream, the idyll found an abrupt end during the war at the beginning of the 1990s between the Serbs and Croats. The Kopacki Rit, the flood plains where the Drava flows into the Danube, was right at the fighting front. During those years the Kopacki Rit Natural Park lost a great deal of its original natural wealth.
Nature's process of regeneration, however, will take place during the coming decades without human intervention.
Almendro - Tree of Life
The Almendro Tree must be the most impressive of all the jungle giants in Costa Rica's rainforest. From root to top, this unique tree offers habitats, shelter and nourishment to an incredible number of creatures. Whenever an Almendro goes down, almost the entire community goes down with it, demonstrating the fragility of interdependent systems. A dramatic example of this principle is the Great Green Macaw. Wherever the tree disappears, the parrot no longer is found.
The Dragons of the Canaries
Kurt Mündl's sensational documentary covers its subject from ancient seafaring myths and legends that related stories of the "Dragons of the Canary Islands" as early as 2,000 years ago, up to the current state of research on these unique reptiles. Spectacular shots also illustrate the trying journeys undertaken by Oskar Simony at the end of the 19th century. The first giant lizard specimen captured by Oskar Simony in 1889 for the scientific world is still at the Vienna Museum of Natural History. But Mündl's film also demonstrates that animal species do not always benefit from being discovered: Only a few decades after Simony's sensational discovery the giant lizard of El Hierro was considered lost or extinct. Too many scientists and collectors had helped themselves to material from the small population.
The first-ever filmings realised by Kurt Mündl and his team also include a filming of the hatching of a giant lizard from start to finish. In addition to biological details on these lizards Mündl's film includes dramatic reenactments of Oskar Simony's expeditions and the life of the "Guanches", the Canarian aborigines, who hunted lizards to eat them. Animations of top quality are another asset of this film.
Umbria - From Wreck to Reef
On June 10, 1940, the Umbria, an Italian man-of-war, was scuttled in the Red Sea near Port Sudan. Tons of ammunition, 300.000 bombs and air mines, military trucks, motorcycles and silver coins sank to the bottom of the sea. In 1949, Austria's underwater pioneer Hans Hass explored the wreck and documented the beginning growth of corals. 30 years later he returned, filming and photographing the same positions again for comparison. The metamorphosis from wreck to reef was already on its way. 60 years after the Umbria sank, Erich Proell, another living legend of underwater filming, visited the wreck that had meanwhile turned into a veritable reef. Six decades after the Umbria sank almost the entire wreck has been taken over by marine creatures. The dark holds, still stacked with bombs and other war materials, have been colonised by armies of tube worms and a colourful array of sponges that can survive without sunlight. Erich Proell has documented some of the bizarre scenes of this submarine landscape: vintage motor cars, trucks, railway carriages standing upright in the sand, all overgrown with corals.
Drakensberg - Africa's Dragon Mountains
A dragon hatched from the volcanic furnaces of Gondwanaland. Ancient almost beyond comprehension, yet a living thing. And vast, stretching across a subcontinent, its spine arching above the clouds...
No lucky dragon, this. Starvation festers beneath the shimmering green of its skin. But to the creatures that live along its flanks, it can be a bountiful provider as well as a remorseless destroyer. Today we call it the Drakensberg, or «Dragon Mountain». «Drakensberg» is a dynamic documentary journey through the life of this ever-astonishing mountain. It is also a story of animal survival in a landscape of overwhelming, pitiless power.
Schönbrunn - Well of Beauty
Georg Riha applies unusual perspectives to the «Schönbrunn» theme. A transformation the like of which the viewer has never seen unfolds before his eyes. Schönbrunn in the protean succession of the seasons, of light and shadow, day and night is presented by Sir Peter Ustinov who leads the viewer through Schönbrunn palace with its marvellous garden and the Schönbrunn Zoo.
The Carnic Alps - Nature's Treasure Trove
Austria's southern region boasts a mountain range that seems to consist of nothing but borders: the Carnic Alps.
This is where cultures, languages and lifestyles meet, where Mother Nature provides a glimpse of the history of our planet Earth and where a soft breeze from the sea hits the cold Alpine wall. It is a place of close encounter of three languages: Slovenian, German and Italian. Apart from the geographical border position, it is the steep mountain cliffs, the narrow valleys and the diversity of these borders that have shaped people's mentality. At a distance of approximately 60 miles from the sea, the impact on the weather is obvious. When the clouds come pushing to the North from the Adriatic Sea, they eventually hit the main ridge of the Carnic Alps, which forces them to stop for a rest and shed rain. Finally, the geological history of Mother Earth has formed its own boundaries here between the earth's ages.
Living for the Queen
The film documents the life of a bee colony for the duration of a year. Part of the colony emigrates and becomes a «wild» colony giving an intimate view of the artistically designed beehive and the bee's cleverly organised social life: dividing labour, collecting nectar and warding off enemies. The special feature of this production is the very natural effect of the close-ups that give the viewer the feeling of being within the colony, even for rare events. Without having seen it, who could imagine the queen's «wedding flight» during which the virgin ruler of the colony mates with a drone, a male bee ... all this taking place flying at high speed.
Flight of the Stork
Every spring, there is a unique annual gathering just a few miles from Austria's capital Vienna: Some sixty pairs of white storks come here to mate and breed. This film accompanies these white storks on their seasonal journeys between Central Europe and their African winter quarters. Innovative camera technology offers thrilling and surprising insights into the bird's lives, from their egg-shell cradle to their long flight back to Africa in late summer.
Southeast Asia at its best. 85% of the country is untouched nature, widespread forests, steep mountains and wide river valleys, but also cool high plateaus and savannahs. The primeval forests support a fauna like something out of a fairy tale, with elephants, tigers, leopards, and some of the rarest animal species on the planet. Species never seen by humans are discovered at regular intervals. In recent decades, the few large mammals to be described for the first time were all found in Indochina and experts assume that most of them are at home in Laos: wild oxen such as the saola and kuprey or the truong son munjak. No outsider has ever seen a living specimen of the latter; its existence is only known indirectly, through skeletons, horns and bag that are occasionally found in remote villages. And there is the Mekong, one of the last untamed rivers on Earth. Fed by hundreds of tributaries, it is one of the richest freshwater systems on the planet, comparable only with the Congo or Amazon. This is where the Mekong catfish lives. At 3 meters long and weighing in at 300 kilograms, this monster must be the largest freshwater fish on earth.
Mountains of Mystery
Forming part of the northern limestone Alps, the «Eisenwurzen» nature park boasts a varied, rich landscape dominated by dramatic mountain chains and mighty, steep-faced individual mountains with high-rising cliffs. The white-water rivers and creeks which have eroded the rock of the precipitous mountainsides and ravines are a constant temptation to daring young people, offering fascinating training opportunities to kayakers and canoers of all skill levels. The Eisenwurzen and neighboring regions stand for harmony between ancient culture and craftsmanship on the one hand, and bizarre, overwhelming natural landscapes on the other. The Eisenwurzen region reflects a close union of Mother Nature, historical tradition, exploratory urge and love of adventure.
Namaqualand - Africa's Desert Garden
Namaqualand - the setting for an annual wildlife fairytale. Every year in the narrow window between the cold wet winter and scorchingly-hot, dry summer, flowers of all description bloom in carpets of colors unimaginable, insects of equal diversity pollinate and predate, and everything form meerkats to ostriches breed. This film chronicles the magical transformation of a landscape - from the fantasy of fields of flowers to the harsh realities of a desert, and back again and uses a gang of meerkats and a group of ostriches as main characters who develop during the seasonal changes.
Europe's countryside is largely shaped by agriculture and by highly specialized, efficient farms. However, in the seventies of the past century, a counter-movement set in: ecological management became a new topic on the agenda. The film features an organic farm as it traverses the different cycles of the year, its main protagonists being farm animals and pets as well as wild game that regularly visit its surrounding meadows and fields. The film portrays the behavior and peculiarities of the farm's cows, pigs, goats, chickens and ducks. Rather than presenting any new livestock species or inaccessible corners of the land, this documentary introduces the viewers into a well known world, that still is full of secrets.
High Tatras - A Wilderness Frozen in Time
The High Tatras are considered a National Park in Slovakia. It has more than three hundred peaks, many higher than 2500 meters, romantic valleys with no access roads, crystal-clear streams and forests inhabited by wolves, bears and lynxes. Observing the nature of the High Tatras means to look into the past, to go back to a world when ploughs were pulled by horses and trees were cut with handsaws and axes, to go back to the times of European wilderness, when predators still roamed the forests.
The Incredible Hulik and His Beavers
Biologist Tomas Hulik spent more than 300 days and nights in the wild riverine forest along the river March, separating Slovakia and Austria. After that, Rachel, the matron of this beaver territory, allowed him to watch the daily routine and dramatic adventures of her family of five at close range. In more than 200 shooting days, an ORF camera team accompanied Tomas to gather scenes never before filmed in the wild.
Return of the Bald Ibis
Four years ago a group of zoologists ventured out to indulge into a truly crazy adventure. Their ambition: to show a flock of bald ibises, birds that have been pushed over the brink by hunting and habitat destruction and only survived in zoos, how to fly to their winter quarters on their original seasonal migration routes. They accompanied the animals with lightweight airplanes from Austria to Italy - a chaotic event full of mishaps and some successes. But now it appears as though their dreams are about to come true: the comeback of a bird that went extinct in Europe in the Middle Ages. In the previous year two bald ibises managed to fly back to Austria without guidance. Now, for the fi fth time, human foster parents - 16 people from 4 nations - will once again lead the way for young ibises in completely novel paraplanes covering a distance of 900 kilometres within three weeks. This documentary takes us on a thrilling and humorous adventure introducing us to a very special family consisting of birds and humans.
Greece - Garden of the Gods
Greece, the Ancient Empire, is the residence of the Gods from Artemis to Zeus. A sanctuary of impressive temples, ruins, mystical places of worship and home to a rich fauna and flora. Steeped in legends, this countryside provides the backdrop for the unique natural history of the birthplace of the Olympic Games. This unconventional documentary moves to and from between the world of ideas and natural facts and takes us through the realm of the Gods where hardly known animals live in a breathtaking landscape. Schlamberger combines the magnificent visual imagery of nature-film with a journey into the world of ancient Greek ideology, inviting us on an entertaining stroll through the «Garden of the Gods».
Lake Constance - Emerald in the Heart of Europe
No other European destination has as many incomingand out-going «flights» as Lake Constance: it'sthe main hub for migratory birds in Western Europe.Over 300 different species pass through everyyear: that's more than a quarter of a million birds.Lake Constance is so large that, standing on oneshore, the Earth's curvature prevents you seeing theopposite bank. This body of water is large enoughto influence the climate, and the soil round about isso fertile it creates its own ecosystem. Red-crestedpochards, whooper swans, alpine swifts - and raccoons:the lake is home to a myriad of species.This film explores the secrets above and below the surface and on the banks of this lake which linksAustria, Germany and Switzerland with no bordersin between.
Waldviertel - The Enchantment of a Rugged Land
Vienna's forests make a visual impact on the city's scenery - being a source of life and sanctuary at the same time: They are omnipresent and an enormous asset, taken for granted by many. Perhaps no other European capital boasts so many acres of forest per inhabitant. There are the well-known Vienna woods in the West and North, the national park of the Danube wetlands to the East, and numerous groves and green corridors right amidst built-up urban space.
Georg Riha's film makes forests in their enormous diversity an experience in its own right, spotting forest wildlife in dens and observing nature as the seasons go by. Based on superb filming equipment such as the track-based overhead Camcat system and the exceptional CamTL35 fast-motion camera, the film shows visual montages alternating between idyllic impressions and unusual camera perspectives and views.
Bohemia - A Year in the Wetlands
In Bohemia, at the very heart of Europe, south of the Golden City of Prague and guarded by medieval castles, lies a hidden mosaic of lakes and gently flowing rivers, of misty forests and mysterious peat bogs.
This important wetland, shaped both by nature and centuries of influence by man, is a magnet for huge flocks of birds and home to an amazing diversity of plant and animal life.n spring there is an explosion of life as the trees are weighed down with nests of cormorants, egrets, herons and storks. With the arrival of winter the landscape becomes silent and desolate. Otters are hunting fish under the ice of frozen lakes while White-tailed Eagles soar over gaps in the ice, targeting fish and birds. Since his early childhood wildlife cinematographer Jiri Petr has spent much of his time in this wildlife paradise. Together with him, we will explore this remarkable habitat and observe the changing faces of nature during the course of one year that inspired many artists and writers alike.
Vienna's Forests - Jewels of Green
Vienna's forests make a visual impact on the city's scenery - being a source of life and sanctuary at the same time: They are omnipresent and an enormous asset, taken for granted by many. Perhaps no other European capital boasts so many acres of forest per inhabitant. There are the well-known Vienna woods in the West and North, the national park of the Danube wetlands to the East, and numerous groves and green corridors right amidst built-up urban space.
Georg Riha's film makes forests in their enormous diversity an experience in its own right, spotting forest wildlife in dens and observing nature as the seasons go by. Based on superb filming equipment such as the track-based overhead Camcat system and the exceptional CamTL35 fast-motion camera, the film shows visual montages alternating between idyllic impressions and unusual camera perspectives and views.
The Tale of the Hare and the Sun
The film tells of the life of hares, their enormous fertility, their interaction with predators and their spread over all continents, from the desert to the Arctic ice observing snowshoe hares at -25°C in Canada's Yukon Territory, field hares in the east of Austria, and their near relatives, the rabbits of Spain's Extremadura.
Flight of the Bald Ibis
Bald ibises migrated back and forth between Central Europe and Northern Africa, before they were pushed over the brink by hunting and habitat destruction. Today, the birds have no memory of the old seasonal migration routes. Two Austrian ornithologists therefore fly the route using ultralight planes to guide a flock of birds to their winter quarters in the Maremma swamps along the west coast of Tuscany, Italy. Part 2: »Return of the Bald Ibis«
Bohemian Forest - Wilderness in the Heart of Europe
The location of the Bohemian Forest at the former Iron Curtain and the political influences involved, had the result that both forms of country side are united here: natural landscape on the one hand and the ancient cultivated landscape on the other. In the Bohemian Forest there are still villages that include part of the forest. This is a practice that was common in all of Europe as far back as the Middle Ages and amounted to as much as seventy percent. Obviously, life was based on the forest and it provided people with their livelihood. Canals still exist today that were built in the 18th century for transporting lumber. Despite these canals and the hundreds of years of exploiting the riches of the area, such as the lumber, the Bohemian Forest still has the last remnants of the original European prime forest. The fact that one can still occasionally meet up with a lynx today is due, however, to conservationist moves to re-introduce the wild cats into the region. The film shows the progression of the seasons and the life of the farmers in this wilderness in the heart of Europe.
The Roaring Mountains
Nowhere in the Alpine mountains are water, forest and rocks as precipitous, rock faces as vertical as in the Gesäuse National Park, Europe's largest canyon. «Gesäuse» is a name derived from the rushing noise of the water, the soughing wind that echoes up to the peaks of the north faces of this unique region - home to the myth of the mountain. When the sun rises and ushers in a magnificent day, the Gesäuse projects a perfect image of a mountain. However, in bad weather, the Gesäuse's walls reflect a scary phenomenon as the speed of the inflowing airmass multiplies. Adverse weather conditions can thus convert the Gesäuse into inferno. Michael Schlamberger, Austria's most renowned nature filmmaker internationally, listened to the rushing whitewater of the river Enns and conquered the sheer rock walls, chasing eagles and chamois in passing.
Typhoon Island - Taiwan
The spectacular island of Taiwan has long been buffeted by violent elemental forces, and a recent hurricane of human development has rocked it to its core. But at the eye of this dual storm, in the island's mysterious mountain heart, a huge variety of unique and little-known wildlife has survived. That may come as a surprise to many, since this is no lost wilderness, but one of the most densely populated places on earth: Taiwan, with over 20 million people inhabiting an area just 200 by 80 miles.
Fu Long - Little Panda, Happy Dragon
Entire Austria was buzzing with excitement as for the first time ever in the history of European zoos a panda baby was conceived naturally and born in good health. In advance to this moment of happiness, a Chinese delegation called the little bear Fu Long -«Happy Dragon». ORF's Natural History Unit accompanied the panda baby throughout the first moments of its young life. Witness Fu Long's clumsy attempts at walking, playing around in the adjoining garden and canoodling with his mother Yang Yang. This documentary offers not only sensational exclusive shots of the newly born baby in its birth box, being taken care of by its mother and the little panda's visits to the veterinarian to assure healthy development but also tries to uncover the secret life of one of the most endangered species in the world. Fu Long is growing fast and getting cuter and lovelier every day. Have a look and join the «panda-mania» that crossed Austria's borders spreading into whole Europe in no time.
The Valley at the Border
The border between Austria and the Czech Republic runs along the middle of the Thaya River. Up to the fall of the Iron Curtain, the isolation of the youngest Austrian national park allowed a great diversity of quite rare animal and plant species to survive. Highlights of this production are underwater shots of spawning brook trout, a battle between stag-beetles and the mating of a female praying mantis - complete with the well-known outcome.
Tyrol - Life in the Mountains
The mountain farmers in the valleys of Tyrol and East Tyrol have been profoundly shaped by the environment they live in. Internationally acclaimed director Curt Faudon presents a portrait of the rugged and rough life these people live as they go about their work and celebrate their festivities and embarks on a search for the ancient ties that exist between nature and man.
Libyan Sahara - Water from the Desert
«Bahr Belá Má», «Waterless Sea», as the Sahara is called by the Bedouins. But deep beneath the dune fields and stone deserts expands an immeasurable reservoir of water resources. Using enormous technical resources, the Libyans have begun to extract fossil reserves of groundwater. Following oil, water is now arousing a new wave of euphoria. In the present desert climate, reserves are only being partally replaced and what has collected over a period of millions of years may be used up in only a few decades.
Cuba - Wild Island of the Caribbean
Cuba is the largest and yet least known island in the Caribbean. Over half the plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and over 80% of the reptiles and amphibians are uniquely Cuban. The film reveals the unknown wonders of the largest and most unspoilt of the Caribbean islands and provides a fresh perspective on Cuba.
Alpine Meltdown - Just a Few Degrees More
The climate is changing, global temperatures are rising. The impact is already apparent, especially in the mountains - but also in the lowlands. The permafrost zone is movng higher, and the masses of snowmelt sweeping down from the glaciers are increasing year by year. Rivers roar into powerful floods and dwindle to a trickle within minutes. «Alpine Meltdown» takes us to a future world, incorporating the changes that have already occurred and pursuing the question: how will alpine landscapes look - and what animals will they still protect - at the end of the 21st Century?
Pielach - The Enchanted Valley
The Pielach, with a length of 67.5 km, is a little known river at the foothills of the Alps, though biologically speaking, flowing through hidden natural treasures, it is one of Austria's most valuable running waters. While the valley of the Pielach was settled by mammoth hunters as early as the ancient Stone Age, Celts and Romans left their traces later. The river is one of the last spawning waters of Huchen, a relative of the trout. Measuring up to two meters, the Huchen feels very much at home in the tranquil Pielach.
Alpine Lakes - Quiet Beauty
Springs, streams, ponds, lakes and rivers have forged our landscape over thousands of years. The film retraces the water's journey - from the glacier down into the valley, through the mountains to its source, illustrating the beauty of natural, smaller lakes in Austria with their fascinating world of flora and fauna and tells the story of enchanted cliffs, a spectacular underwater world, dragons, ancient species of fish, as well as of speleologists and modern science.
The Treasury - Vienna's Natural History Museum
For the world famous newspaper, the «Sunday Times», an English team of museum specialists determined the ten best museums of this world - Austria's Natural History Museum of Vienna was within the top ten. Without a doubt, it holds a unique position within the museums of the world. Vienna's Natural History Museum is a collection of natural treasures - from meteorites to stone age artefacts, from dinosaur bones to fossils trapped in amber. But how did these jewels find their way into this temple of knowledge? Every piece has its own story which leads out of the museum into the remotest corners of the world - and beyond. For the first time, this documentary will unfold the history of this traditional Viennese museum as well as explore the museum's contribution to science across the world.
The Living Graveyard
The Viennese Central Cemetery is the biggest and, historically, most significant cemetery in Europe. It is not only the resting place for innumerable politicians and great musicians such as Beethoven and Johann Strauss, it is also a wildly romantic jungle, a habitat for countless animals. This unusual setting for a nature documentary is introduced from the animal's point of view giving an insight info. The hamster guides us through the world below the gravestones, the hawk reveals the activity from the air. Human visitors, funeral processions and tourists are all shown from an animal perspective giving an insight into a fascinating habitat in a vast sea of graves.
One of the most stunning, untouched landscapes on earth is found in the heartland of Asia: stretching from the impenetrable forests of Siberia in the North to the Chinese wall in the South. And here, a huge variety of rare animal species are found under its deep blue sky. The rocky territory in the mountains of the North is shared by powerful Argali sheep and ibex. The Southwest of Mongolia is home to the Mongolian Wild Horse, the ancestor of our domestic horse. In the interior of the Gobi desert, wild camels wander from oasis to oasis. The East of the country holds the biggest area of grassland in Asia. In the early springtime, it hosts huge numbers of Mongolian gazelles and wolves. «Wild Mongolia» is a unique revelation of untouched nature and amazing landscapes.
The Wild and the West
The real nature of the western: Why is it that other rivers always act as the double for the Rio Bravo, vultures have never gotten beyond being extras, and that scorpions always climb into the hero´s boots?
For the past one-hundred years westerns have awoken a longing for real adventure and for the big «undiscovered country»- and they've been so successful that most people it's easy to picture the Wild West: Dust blowing through the prominent rock formations of Monument Valley. Endless deserts which test the endurance of righteous men and provide a perfect hiding place for outlaws. Rapid rivers, on the other side of which, a new and better life awaits.
But what 'westerns' tell us about the west is only a part of the story and most of the time it's just fiction - especially the landscape and the wildlife. In the Wild West, it's only a day's ride from the desert to the river, whereas in reality the landscapes are often thousands of miles apart. Not only did they use riders to double for actors they also used bogus rivers to double for the real thing. The famous Rio Bravo is mentioned in the title of more than a hundred westerns, but it's so dried up that in a western it's normally replaced by the Colorado or the San Juan River.
In »Wild is the West«, the man with no name is the wise old man of the west. Nothing is strange to him: From the cavalry, whose legend is bigger than reality, to the myths of the relentless burning hot desert. He proves (at least on celluloid) that it's possible to kill and roast a turkey within five seconds. The famous »man without a name«, hero of countless westerns from the 60´s and 70´s changes genre for this documentary film: He rides through 'Western country' and talks about his life as a professional hero, about the fantasy of the director and about some of the unusual animals and plants that he's encountered in the course of his career. In this documentary, the American actor, Joe Dimmick, plays the role of the Man without a name. He has been the number one double for Clint Eastwood for more than thirty years and is a hopeless romantic, «Can you feel it yet, the feeling to leave everything behind and ride into the sunset? I'll tell you one thing, «If you really want to, you can find the good old West everywhere.»