Wild about film

July 6, 2020

Films that feature wildlife and wild nature can be incredibly powerful. A trio of captivating media productions is helping Rewilding Europe boost the global outreach of rewilding.

Wildlife cameraman Louis Labrom
Wildlife cameraman Louis Labrom, who shot footage for “Europe’s New Wild”, filming the bison release in Romania.
Frans Schepers / Rewilding Europe

 

Capturing the moment

Filming of the reindeer migration in Swedish Lapland.
Susan Wright

High up on an alpine plateau in Swedish Lapland a tense stand-off plays out. It’s early May 2019 and wildlife cameraman Louis Labrom is waiting for a herd of reindeer to embark on their spring migration. Soon the animals will journey around 200 kilometres from the Swedish interior to the Norwegian coast.

Involving the time-honoured movement of tens of thousands of animals, the twice-yearly migration of reindeer (between summering and wintering grounds) defines Swedish Lapland, shaping landscapes, ecology and indigenous culture. Yet many people, in Europe and beyond, are unaware of its existence, and the threats it faces from mining and intensive forestry, which are drastically reducing the availability of the lichen on which reindeer depend.

But over the next few months that lack of awareness will change, as “Europe’s New Wild” – a six-part television series showcasing Europe’s magnificent wildlife comeback – begins to hit people’s screens.

 

An inspirational co-production

Water buffalo free-roaming and swimming are interested in the cameraman at Ermakov Island, Ukrainian Danube Delta.
Frans Schepers/Rewilding Europe

“Europe’s New Wild” tells the inspirational story of the wild rebirth of a continent. Across six episodes, the series reveals the spectacular resurgence of nature across Europe’s most varied and breathtaking landscapes. From the frozen landscapes of the Arctic to abundant river wetlands, from deep forest to rugged mountain peak, viewers will witness Europe’s most iconic wildlife returning and thriving, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

“Europe’s New Wild visualises the spectacular recovery of nature now happening across much of Europe,” explains Laurien Holtjer, Rewilding Europe’s Head of Communications. “Profiling the rewilding process and wildlife comeback in most of Rewilding Europe’s operational areas, it will change the way people think about wild nature in Europe, and its conservation.”

 

Global outreach

Co-produced by Rewilding Europe, Off the Fence Productions and Bonne Pioche Television, and sponsored by National Geographic International, WWF Netherlands and Canon Europe, Europe’s New Wild will be broadcast in more than 45 languages, reaching at least 140 million homes in more than 160 countries. Airing mostly on Nat Geo Wild end of this summer, it will also feature on a number of European terrestrial channels. Viewers in Austria can already enjoy all the episodes on Servus TV this week and next.

“This series will open people’s eyes across the world”, says Susan Wright, Rewilding Europe’s (former) multimedia producer. “Apart from showcasing the amazing wildlife that Europeans have on their doorstep, which I think many people are simply unaware of, it also shows how resilient nature is, and how it can and will bounce back if we let it.”

 

Zimbrul is a short nine-minute documentary, which beautifully captures the people’s perspective on the bison reintroduction in the Southern Carpathians.

Lives through the lens

Wild nature-based media productions don’t always need multimillion-dollar budgets to capture hearts and minds.

In 2019, “Zimbrul” (Romanian for “bison”), a candid nine-minute documentary by award-winning French filmmaker and photographer Emmanuel Rondeau, was released in November, it showcases the ongoing reintroduction of European bison in the Southern Carpathians of Romania by Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania, seen through the eyes of the people in the local village of Armeniș.

Featuring numerous one-to-one conversations with residents and people working in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area – including the former mayor of Armeniș (who approved the reintroduction programme) and a bison ranger – Zimbrul has already won glowing reviews for its authenticity and understated beauty.

 

European exposure

Filmping horses on the Lika plains
Filming wild-living horses in Lika plains, Croatia, to illustrate the importance of natural grazing.
Frans Schepers/Rewilding Europe

A third rewilding-focused production was produced last year. The Franco-German television network ARTE broadcast the first-ever documentary about European rewilding in France and Germany in May 2019, with a combined viewership of around 1.5 million people.

Put together by French production company Bonne Pioche and titled “L’Europe à la reconquête de la biodiversité” (“European rewilding”), the dramatic production provided a comprehensive overview of rewilding, with significant coverage of Rewilding Europe’s work. It presented a range of European rewilding areas and initiatives, including the Southern Carpathians in Romania and the Greater Côa Valley in Portugal.

 

Want to know more?

Europe’s New Wild is coming to your screen at the end of summer 2020 on National Geographic (WILD). Stay tuned and don’t miss out on the awakening of a new Europe by subscribing to our special Europe’s New Wild newsletter, keeping you posted about the series and the rewilding behind the scenes. More information will follow.

Much of this blog was taken from a story in the Rewilding Europe Annual Review 2019 entitled “Wild about film”. A PDF of the full story can be downloaded here.

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