First Prize – “Town of Sondrio” Award

Owen Pruemm – Production: Terra Mater Factual Studios in coproduction with Doclights/NDR Naturfilm and National Geographic Channel – Austria 2017 – Duration: 51 min. – Area: Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

The Glade is a paradise in the desiccated plains of Ruaha. Water is here all year round. This bounty spawns strange relationships, like the pact that exists between a baboon and a lion family who, against all natural instincts, live in harmony. But peace in the Glade is shattered when thousands of buffalo arrive to drink. They are followed by the biggest pride in all of Ruaha National Park, The Baobab pride. While the Baobab pride hunts the herd inside the Glade, another pride arrives on the scene. They are the Njaa - a pride of drifters - always following the buffalo herd. The herd is in their territory and they will fight any lion that dares to poach their prey. The Glade becomes a war zone. 

Stelvio National Park Award

Ann Johnson Prum – Production: Terra Mater Factual Studios in coproduction with Thirteen Productions LLC in association with WNET and PBS – Austria 2017 - Duration: 50 min. - Area: Ecuador, Morocco, Mozambique, Peru, U.S.A.

Butterflies have been flying around our planet for over 130 million years, and today around 20,000 different species inhabit the globe. Their amazing life stages are the centre of attention now. From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to the emergence of the full-blown, winged creature, we are following their lives, highlighting their astonishing survival techniques, and the new science that is unlocking the secrets of their world, forever changing our view of these fantastic and yet so fragile creatures.

“Lombardy Region” Award

Erik Baláž – Production: Arolla Film Slovakia and Doclights / NDR Naturfilm – Germany 2017 – Duration: 50 min. - Area: Tatra Mountains, Slovakia

The Tatra Mountains loom far above the clouds – the smallest high mountain range on earth. Some species have thrived here since the ice age: chamois are well equipped for the harsh climate. Marmots, meanwhile, spend more than half the year asleep. Red deer and bears repopulated the region after the end of the ice age. Since then, they’ve tried to master the various challenges of this mountainous world.

Students’ Jury Award

James Reed – Production: Coproduction Terra Mater Factual Studios and Oxford Scientific Films, in association with CJ E&M and Buzz – Austria 2018 – Duration: 50 min. – Area: South Korea

The notorious demilitarized zone of Korea has existed on the boundary of two warring nations for nearly 70 years where a tense standoff still remains.  However, amidst the barbed wire fences and thousands of land mines, a unique natural wonderland from wild boar to giant hornets to rare cranes peacefully co-exist alongside the ashes of war.

“Achille Berbenni” Award assigned by the Audience Jury

Oliver Goetzl – Production: Gulo Film Productions for Doclights / NDR Naturfilm – Germany 2017 – Duration: 56 min. – Area: Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada

At Canada’s northernmost edge lies a remote and barren wilderness, where few animals are tough enough to survive: Ellesmere Island. Ghosts of the Arctic follows a family of wolves as they struggle to raise their pups in this unforgiving environment. Set within a stunning landscape of snow-capped mountains and ice-locked fjords, this documentary offers a glimpse into a world that’s rarely been seen before. At its core, a wolf pack is a large extended family where everyone must work together to survive. Snow White and Alpha – the pack’s mother and father – have lead their family through the dark and frigid winter months, and they now embark on a new challenge: to raise their pups in the brief arctic summer.

Irina Zhuravleva – Production: LESFILM – Russia 2018 - Duration: 52 min. - Area: Federal Sanctuary southern Kamchatka, Russia

The South Kamchatka Federal Sanctuary is often called a bear paradise. The film production team headed there and spent seven months observing and filming the hidden secrets of the newborn brown bear cubs’ daily lives throughout their first year on Earth. “Kamchatka Bears - Life Begins” is a film that differs from the other nature documentaries. The film is meditative. Music, the sounds of nature and the absence of a human voice allow the viewer to plunge into the beauty of wild nature, to feel its presence among volcanoes, rivers and wild animals, and experience an important boundary, beyond which a person should not interfere.

Anne and Erik Lapied – Production: Lapiedfilm – France 2018 – Duration: 69 min. – Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy, french Alps

Deux aiglons ont vu le jour au cœur d’une grande falaise ... Ainsi commence cette histoire qui nous emmène à la découverte de la faune sauvage de montagne. Grâce à des sens hyper développés, l’aigle royal doit déjouer la vigilance des marmottes, chamois ou bouquetins, affronter ses semblables, régler les conflits avec les concurrents et survivre à l’hiver. Mais un rapace de presque trois mètres d’envergure, le gypaète barbu, survole la vallée et compte bien s’y installer. Comment ces vautours casseurs d’os vont-ils partager le territoire de l’aigle royal? Ce film, tourné sur sept années, raconte la vie des maîtres du ciel. Il nous entraine dans une fabuleuse odyssée aérienne qui a pour théâtre toute la splendeur des Alpes sauvages.

Lothar Frenz – Production: Taglichtmedia for ZDF – Germany 2017 – Duration: 43 min. – Area: Germany

It is horror! It is murder! Brutal death as well as exciting fights with an exceptional last-minute rescue. If you like thrilling horror movies you will love this documentary. And after seeing it – you will know the creepiest spot is actually the meadow in your neighbourhood. With stylistic devices from the horror genre this extraordinary nature documentary takes you on a journey following a well-known hero with six legs, red wings and seven black dots through a seemingly normal meadow – but full of monsters.

Marco Tessaro – Production: Parco Lombardo del Ticino – Italy 2018 – Duration: 15 min. - Area: Parco Lombardo del Ticino, Italy

In the Ticino Park more than ninety species of birds find refuge in the areas of “marcita”, as well as frogs, butterflies, fish and rare flowers. It is a heritage to be protected with care. Cited in two scrools of 1188 and 1189, the “marcita” is an ancient crop cultivated in Milanese territory. It is a common opinion that the Cistercian monks were the first to practice this specific cultivation, but actually they refined a technique already “invented” by the farmers of the plain.

Klaus Feichtenberger – Production: PRE TV – Austria 2017 – Duration: 53 min. - Area: Nepal, Tibet

Between the Brahmaputra river’s origins and the canyon, along the main ridges of the Himalayas, lies perhaps the most dynamic landscape in the world. The collision of two formerly divided continents, India and Asia, continues to this day, and is responsible for creating both the Himalayas and the river system. The high plateaus near these rivers are often hidden from sight, and provide a habitat for animals and plants that have adapted to the extreme conditions of the high elevations and low temperatures.

Images by: © Pre TV / Klaus Feichtenberger

Matt Hamilton - Production: Terra Mater Factual Studios and Humble Bee Films in association with Black Devil Productions e BBC - Duration: 50 min. - Area: Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania lies on the Australian continent, but is a world apart. It is home to an extraordinary cast of black devils and white wallabies. Trees here tower to one hundred metres and green lights dance in the southern sky.  As the last landfall heading south before Antarctica, Tasmania’s isolation, cooler climate and distinct seasons influence everything.

S. Nalla Muthu – Production: Natural History Unit India for National Geographic Channel – India 2017 – Duration: 44 min. – Area: Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

Machli, the legendary Tiger Queen of Ranthambhore National Park, in Western India, was known for her fierce determination, bravery and confidence. She captured the imagination and hearts of tiger fans like no other. Machli died at the record age of twenty years but not before she had played a key role in the regeneration of tiger population in the Ranthambhore and Sariska National Parks. This film chronicles Machli’s journey from her prime to her death, over a period of nine years, telling the incredible stories behind Machli’s rise to power, her heartbreaking descent and the extraordinary legacy she left behind. Machli taught us a valuable lesson that protecting one tiger can create a forest.

Harald Pokieser–Coproduction Terra Mater Factual Studios, National Geographic and Doclights/NDR Naturfilm, produced by Cosmos Factory–Austria 2018–Duration: 50 min.-Area: Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori, Mount Elgon and Murchinson National Parks, Uganda

Uganda is still what travellers consider an ‘insider trip’. Off the tourist map, a place still in the shadows of its past. Visitors, including scientists and conservationists, had a difficult time in the civil war-stricken country. Poaching had endangered many of Uganda’s most iconic animals, including mountain gorillas, savannah elephants, the chimpanzees and even the tree-dwelling lions. But now the national parks have been restored and Uganda’s wildlife is once again thriving. This is a celebration of their survival.