Wildlife Film News 56
Feb 2004

News Contents:

1. SearchWorks footage request for Hollywood film
2. Daryl Hannah highlights environmental film festival weekend
3. Filmmakers for conservation present Halycon evening
Festival News,Views and Issues, from Planet in Focus
Winners of the 2nd "Town of Faenza" Underwater Trophy
6. Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival seeks summer interns
7. Discovery film declared a fraud; broadcaster to be sued
8. The great Amazon adventure, Wildlife film training in Brazil with Nick Gordon

1. Request for footage

Dear Sir/Madam:

I'm contacting you from SearchWorks, an entertainment research company located in Los Angeles.
We're currently looking for exciting, moving footage of large cats for use in the new "Cat Woman" film being produced by Warner Brothers and starring Hallie Berry and Benjamin Bratt.

It's important that either the cat or the camera be moving.  Both would be ideal.

If you have such footage available for licensing or if you are able to direct me to a source, I'd greatly appreciate hearing from you.  If you'd like to call, I can be reached at 323.469.3783 M-F, 9AM to 6PM.  Feel free to call collect.  We are desperate to locate material quickly.  I hope to hear from you soon.

Suzanne Shelton
P 323.469.3783
F 323.464.0824


2.Daryl Hannah highlights environmental film festival weekend

Nevada City, California: Nevada City is earning its place on the map for being more than just a quaint, historic gold mining town. The largest single watershed organization in the state, the South Yuba River Citizens League(SYRCL, pronounced ‘circle’), calls the town home, and they have spawned an event that people are talking about all over the West -- the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival.

On January 9 and 10, 2004, the 2nd Annual Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival brought together speakers, activists, and award-winning environmental and adventure films, as well. The sold out crowd found standing room only at Nevada City’s Miners Foundry and Nevada Theatre. Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah was the featured guest on Saturday evening. She was joined by leading bio-diesel activist Charris Ford. The pair were featured in the festival film about the bio-diesel movement, French Fries ... To Go.

Carlos Buhler, one of the most accomplished mountain climbers in the world, was also a featured keynote speaker. He shared his stories and the film, Last Horizon: The First Ascent of Sepu Kangri, which features his legendary climb of a Tibetan peak. Buhler’s career spans 30 years and includes major ascents on five continents. Other featured guests at the festival included extreme boater, Scott Lindgren, speedclimber Hans Florine, as well as numerous filmmakers and activists.

The nearly 40 films chosen for the festival were carefully selected from more than 200 that were both solicited by the viewing committee and submitted by independent filmmakers through a Call for Entries process. The films explored a variety of environmental subjects, including wildlife, natural resources, Native American issues, rivers and water, and people making a difference in the natural world.

The festival also featured a variety of adventure films about mountaineering, climbing, and boating. A childrens’ section of films was featured on the Saturday morning of the festival.

Be a Part of History in the Making

The attention garnered by this unique festival is already beginning to rival that of the several large mountain and environmental film festivals across the country, such as MountainFilm in Telluride and Banff and the DC Environmental Film Festival.

"We want to make our festival stand out from the crowd, and our mission is to inspire festival-goers to take action on behalf of the natural world," says Kathy Dotson, festival director.

"It is a film festival for activists by activists," adds Janet Cohen, executive director of SYRCL. Festival attendees came from all over the western United States. "It was great to see the positive impact on and involvement of the community at the festival. It was wonderful to have unique, special and important films exposed to a broader audience," said Vertical Frontier filmmaker, Kristi Denton Cohen.

This year, SYRCL presented awards to three films. The Best of the Entries Award was granted to the film, Hetch Hetchy: Yosemite’s Lost Valley by Deborah Landowne. The People’s Choice Award went to filmmaker Frank Green’s Counting Sheep, a film about the Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Lion issues in the Sierra Nevada. The Best of the Festival was awarded to Pale Male by Frederic Lilien, a film about a red-tailed hawk in Central Park.

"The Wild & Scenic Film Festival provided a first-class opportunity for many people to be educated about our effort to restore Yosemite National Park's Hetch Hetchy Valley. SYRCL deserves an A+ for organizing such a wonderful experience for everyone," said Ron Good, executive director of the organization Restore Hetch Hetchy.

SYRCL already has the activist platform to stand on. The Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival supports the critical work of the organization, California’s most effective and largest single-watershed protection organization. populations. "SYRCL’s effectiveness as an organization is based on our ability to engage people around environmental issues that affect their lives," says Cohen.

Kathy Dotson
RiverPeople Director &
Film Festival Director
South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)
216 Main St.
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530)265-5961, x202

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3.Filmmakers for conservation presents Halcyon evening

Following on from the huge success at the Filmmakers for Conservation "Monkey Business Event" in November lastyear we are delighted to announce the details for the next event "Halcyon Days"

An evening with awardwinning team Charlie Hamilton-James and Philippa Forrester who are showing excerpts   from their latest success ' My Halcyon River' .

Spot the subtle conservation messages in this glossy blue chip production and discover how UK wildlife can excite an international audience.

Join us on March 1st 7.00pm at the ARKive Theater,
The Wildscreen Building , Bristol (IMAX cinema entrance):
Contact Caroline Whittome for reservations on 0117 951 7873 or by e-mail at caroline.whittome@hp.com leaving your name, contact number and number of seats required.

FREE entrance includes a glass of wine
Your films CAN make a difference


Filmmakers for Conservation
The international TV and media organisation for global conservatio

"The mission of Filmmakers for Conservation is to promote global conservation through the making, broadcasting and distributing of films, and to help conservation organisations and filmmakers world-wide to make more, better-informed, and effective conservation films."


4.Festival News, Views and Issues, from Planet in Focus


1 a). Now accepting Submissions for Planet in Focus 2004

We are now accepting submissions for our next festival (September 28 to October 3, 2004). Please download the Submissions Form from our website www.planetinfocus.org. The early deadline is April 1, and the final deadline May 3. So get your films completed in time. We look forward to seeing what you committed and creative filmmakers have been working on.

1 b).Nature in Focusphotography competition

Planet in Focusand The Nature of Things with David Suzuki present an environmental photography competition. Amateur photographers are invited to submit original 8" x 10" photographic prints to the first annual Nature in Focus.
Categories include: Your Habitat; Sacred Species; Recycled Treasures and Acts of Nature.
Winners will have their photos published in Harrowsmith Country Life and receive a digital camera from Fujifilm Canada.

Deadline: January 31, 2004

For entry form and regulations visit:www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/photo_contest.html


2. Enter the Science in Society Journalism Awards Competition

The deadline for entries for the 32nd Science in Society Journalism Awards competition offered by the Canadian Science Writers' Association (CSWA) is January 31, 2004. The CSWA offers a total of sixteen $1000 prizes annually to honour outstanding contributions to science writing in print, broadcast including radio and television, student writing, and books. The range of eligible topics is broad, including health and medicine, nature, natural resources, the environment, physics and computer sciences. Competitors must be Canadian citizens or resident of Canada and entries, in either French or English, must have been published in Canada during the 2003 calendar year. Please find the necessary entry form for this competition in pdf format at our web site www.sciencewriters.ca. The CSWA also administers the Canadian Forest Service Journalism Awards in Newspapers and Magazines, the NRCan Office of Energy Efficiency Media Award, The L’Oreal Canada Journalism Award in all media, and is associated with the Yves Fortier Earth Science Journalism Award for newspapers.


3. How to get hold of one of our films

We have had numerous requests about how to get a copy of some of the films featured at our festival. At present our agreement with the filmmakers and distributors only allows us to screen the films at our festival, for which we pay screening fees. We do encourage the use of the films by other groups to help bring environmental issues to wider audiences, so we are posting the distributor information for all of this year’s films on our website. Please look for it under the 2003 Festival Schedule.


 4.  Volunteering -We want your skills and energy

Wondering how you can get involved with Planet in Focus? We need volunteers at the festival, and in our office all through the year. We need dedicated people from diverse backgrounds to join committees (communications, fundraising, and community relations), and the Board of Directors. We need local organizers across Canada to help bring the festival tour screenings to more communities and more Canadians. In return you’ll meet some of the nicest people, feel the satisfaction of contributing to one of the most innovative and effective environmental and arts organizations in the country, and have a lot of fun too. Send us a message at volunteers@planetinfocus.org.

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5.Winners of the 2nd "Town of Faenza" Underwater Video Trophy

Awaiting the official Jury's communication, we have the pleasure to send you the final result of the 2nd "Town of Faenza" Underwater Video Trophy which this year numbered 31 participants:

1st place    Gil Arbel (ISRAEL) with "Tonga Gentle Giants"

2nd place   Gianbattista Isabella (ITALY) with " Il Tesoro Sommerso della Isla del Coco"

3rd place    Milorad Djuknic (SERBIA and MONTENEGRO) with "Fate"

worth mentioning:

Thierry Damilano (FRANCE) with "Plonger du bout des doigts"

Danny van Belle (BELGIUM) with " The most beautiful camouflages"


See you soon! Best Regards and Congratulations again!

Gabriele Giulianini

Centro Sub Faenza

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6. Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

The Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival is seeking summer interns for their headquarters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   Interns will have the opportunity to assist with preparations for the Jackson Hole Tech Symposium, which is held Sep. 30-Oct. 2, and the Best of Festival Tour.  

The ideal candidate has an interest in non-fiction filmmaking, digital technology, environmental conservation, non-profit organizations, and/or event planning; and is a motivated, self-starting individual.

Duties may include assisting with one or more of the following areas:

-Public relations
-Event planning
-Delegate registration
-Web design
- Data entry/Database Maintenance
-General office work
Strong communications skills, and/or PR experience a plus.

Internships are available May through October to currently enrolled & recently graduated university students.   Mail a resume, letter of Intent (including dates available) and two letters of recommendation to the Internship Coordinator.  

For further details about the internship & benefits, email info@jhfestival.org


7.Discovery Film Proclaimed A Fraud; Broadcaster to be Sued

London - 6 February 2004:  

Risking its reputation as a source of credible science programming, The Discovery Channel still plans to air its scheduled broadcast of Living With Tigers , a documentary film dogged throughout its production by accusations of fraud both from investors who claim they've been cheated by the filmmakers and from conservationists who denounce the film's content.

"The film is a fraud," declares Stuart Bray, an American-born investor whose money was used unlawfully to make the film. "And Discovery knows it's a fraud."

Bray and his wife, Li Quan, are the founders of Save China's Tigers, the UK-based charity that made international headlines last year for bringing two highly endangered Chinese tigers -- of which there are fewer than 100 remaining worldwide -- to South Africa for wildness training in preparation for reintroduction into a reserve in China to coincide with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Bray originally partnered with South African filmmakers Jon and Dave Varty in a combined effort on behalf of the Chinese tiger project, but the relationship ended when Bray and Quan discovered the Vartys had secretly secured a broadcast deal with Discovery under the false pretense that it was to be about the Chinese Tiger project, and that they had thereafter used Bray's money to make a film that has nothing to do with Chinese tigers -- the film Discovery is now set to air.

"They hijacked the project while my wife and I were in London and Beijing working on the charity," says Bray.   "They originally came to us because they could niot get any broadcaster interested in their bogus tiger story.   They used the legitimate front of the Chinese Tiger story to conclude a secret deal with Discovery.   As soon as that deal was secured, they abandoned the Chinese Tiger project and reverted to their bogus one, so that they could keep all the profits for themselves.   What's worse", says Bray, "is that they used money stolen from me to make their film".

While finances led Bray to file suit directly against the Varty brothers, his bigger concern is the damage that will be done to tiger conservation if the film airs.

"The Vartys claim their film is about tiger conservation, but it's not," Bray says, adding that criminal charges will also be filed against the Vartys.   "It's a fraud scientifically as well as legally, and unless the people who watch it are alerted to that fact I worry they might believe what they see."

According to Bray, the Vartys used his money to acquire two "trash tigers" of an unendangered breed and no value to conservation, then proceeded to make a film Bray never approved. "And we've got them dead-to-rights contractually," Bray says.   "They don't hold the rights to film those animals on that land."

Those rights will form the basis of a $50-million lawsuit Bray says his lawyers will file against Discovery Communications Incorporated if the film is aired.  

"We have spent ten months pleading with Discovery to understand this," Bray says.   "But they're deaf.   They won't talk to us anymore.   They've been completely seduced by the Vartys and their footage."  

Beyond the legal wrangling, legitimate conservationists worldwide have expressed concern over the Varty brothers' cinematic attraction to tigers.  

"Manipulating animal behavior for the sake of documentary film production is not ethical", says award-winning South African wildlife film maker Phil Hattingh, "this brings into question the film techniques employed in many of Jon Varty's documentary film productions."  

Bray offers an example.   "Li and I watched with our own eyes as the Vartys' film crew chased the prey up against the fence and into the path of the tigers just for the sake of dramatic footage.   The prey had no chance.   It was a canned hunt."

Environmentalists from around the world are equally concerned about the Discovery film.   "From what I've learned," says Cory Meacham, a US-based environmental journalist who covers tiger conservation and who was recently deposed in connection with the lawsuit Bray has filed against the Vartys, "the tigers in the film are presented as part of a legitimate tiger-conservation project but they're from a breed that's not endangered.   If in fact that's the case, then the film has about as much to do with tiger conservation as a Disney cartoon."

Meacham, whom Bray attempted to recruit last year in an effort to oust the Vartys, expressed surprise when informed that Discovery still plans to proceed with the film. "These guys might have made a pretty movie with gorgeous cats," Meacham says of the Vartys, "but Discovery and its viewers need to be careful not to get that confused with tiger conservation."

In addition, the Discovery documentary contains footage which its maker, Jonathan varty, has admitted on affidavit to be false.   The programme ends with the Vartys' tigers being "released" into the great expanse of the sanctuary to live and fend for themselves, without human interference.   It is a touching moment where Varty's sadness at having to say goodbye to these tigers is poignantly described.   Varty admits that none of this actually happened.   The tigers have not been released - and indeed still reside in a small enclosure under constant watch and with frequent human contact.   Varty claims, astonishingly, that this is "poetic licence" common to the industry and Discovery's brainchild rather than his own.   Discovery have neither denied this assertion nor expressed any concern over it.   Bray feels certain, however, that the viewing public will be far less relaxed about being misled in this cynical fashion.

For more information, contact:
Kate Reynolds
Save China's Tigers
+44 7968 815171

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8.The Great Amazon Adventure

Wildlife Film Training in Brazil with Nick Gordon and Piers Warren 23 Nov - 9 Dec 2004
If you're looking for a unique trip to explore the Amazon that no tour operator can supply then this is the trip for you. Accompanied by award winning wildlife film-maker, Nick Gordon, and conservationist and wildlife film-trainer Piers Warren, you will be taken on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Highlights will include exploring bat caves, boating through the Mamirua Reserve and travelling to the nesting beaches of giant terrapins, but we shall always be on the look out for other stunning wildlife such as river dolphins, anacondas and maybe even the elusive Jaguar.
Some of the accommodation will be in comfortable hotels, but the experience wouldn't be complete without several days on the river staying on board a boat - spending the nights swinging in hammocks! One of the focusses of the trip will be to help you use your cameras to record the wildlife and the expedition. Nick and Piers will be constantly on hand to help you with this. You will be expected to bring your own camcorder.
Places are strictly limited to ten - we advise booking asap as we expect them to go fast.
Full details at www.wildeye.co.uk/amazon.html
Date: 23 Nov - 9 Dec 2004
Cost: £3,490  (£350 deposit, balance to be paid in September)
If you would like a place, initially you must check availability at info@wildeye.co.uk, requesting to have a place held for you.
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Send YOUR news for the next issue and for the site to Karen Barber at info@wildlife-film.com.

This newsletter goes out to thousands of people in the wildlife film-making industry world-wide.
Best wishes to you all
Karen Barber