Expedition to Mount Elgon

The team’s headquarters

Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border between Uganda and Kenya. Director Harald Pokieser and his camera team spent two weeks filming here in challenging conditions. As Pokieser explains, “We thought that filming the gorillas in Bwindi would be the most difficult part of the film. We were wrong. Filming the elephants on this densely overgrown mountain was far more challenging. You sweat constantly while climbing up and down, and at night you freeze in your tent.” Without a doubt, the team’s exertions were worth it. In fact, using automatic 4K cameras, they were even able to capture female elephants and their calves entering caves at night in order to lick the salt from the cave walls. Filming also took place in other parts of Uganda, and the team returned to Vienna in mid-September.

The Austrian Federal Forests: Our History

internet20 years ago, the venerable “Österreichischen Bundesforste” or Austrian Federal Forest service was transformed into a stock corporation fully owned by the Austrian government. Since 1997, the forestry service has become a modern company with responsibilities far beyond conventional forestry. The anniversary of this change was celebrated on 11. September 2017 at Eckartsau Castle on the Danube east of Vienna. The central element of the event was a 16-minute film of historical footage unearthed from the archives of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and enthusiastically edited by director Manfred Christ. It provides a detailed history of the forestry service from 1970 until 2016. Graphics and editing: Jörg Achatz, Colour Correction: Lee Niederkofler, Audio Post-production: Florian Deutsch.

The Moon And What We Know About it

Earthrise_Revisited_2013 Wikimedia CommonsIn the last decade, scientists have made many fascinating new discoveries about the moon. This is largely due to the modern, highly-sensitive sensors that circle it, and the technical advances that have made it possible to sift through all the data that was collected by the Apollo program prior to 1972.

There is water on the moon, it quakes, there are subterranean volcanoes, its core is solid metal surrounded by a hot, liquid layer of metals and sulphur. In some places, the moon has magnetic fields which could protect a moon base from the solar wind. In fact, one could even potentially establish such a base below the surface, in recently discovered lava tubes and pits.

Manfred Christ has worked his way through hundreds of scientific reports and visited several lunar research conferences, and is now producing a 52-minute documentary, “All about the Moon”, for Terra Mater Factual Studios. The film will contain new animations and rare archive footage, as well as a series of very personal interviews with experts from Germany, France, Russia and the U.S.A. It will be completed in November 2017.

High Times for Uganda’s Gorillas

Gorilla Bwindi 2017The first filming for the “Wild Uganda” documentary in July 2017 took Harald Pokieser and his team on a visit to the mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Fortunately, the rainforest is not as inaccessible as the name might suggest, but filming was nonetheless challenging. However, it was worth it: the team returned with breathtaking footage of the everyday life of a group of gorillas.

For the first time, the mountain gorillas have been captured on film climbing high up into the trees.

Wild Uganda

UgandaFrom summer 2017, the Cosmos Factory camera teams will be in Uganda as part of a new documentary on the country’s fascinating, diverse landscapes, from the savannahs and swamps in the east and tropical rainforests in the west and south to the 5,000-metre-high snow-covered peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Uganda’s animal inhabitants include mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, large herds of elephants, giraffes and antelopes, as well as thousands of rhinos and tree-climbing lions. Written and directed by Harald Pokieser, commissioned by Terra Mater Factual Studios.

The Leopard Rocks

India, Rajasthan

The female leopard Nelam with baby Magdalena

Filming for the Terra Mater Production “The Leopard Rocks” in India’s Rajasthan province: four weeks, two camera crews, 300 kilos of equipment, five rock faces, a dozen leopards. A letter from the director Harald Pokieser: “Things here are pretty exhausting (monotonous and occasionally bad food, constant power failures etc.), but it is worth it and all I can say is: a resounding success. We have rare footage of the leopards, as well as other animals you don’t often see in nature documentaries. Even the camera traps work as planned.”

Namibia – Sanctuary of Giants

Namibia, EtoshaNamibia is more than twice the size of Germany, but has a population of just two million people. No country in Africa would appear to have more space for wild animals, but appearances can be deceptive: the large cattle farms with their enormous grazing pastures and hundreds of thousands of small farms are taking up more and more territory. Conflicts between humans and wild animals are becoming more pronounced, as is poaching. Rhinos and elephants are in constant danger. However, there is hope: government departments, biologists and private businesspeople have come up with fascinating strategies to preserve these icons of wild Africa. A co-production of Terra Mater Factual Studios and National Geographic WILD. First broadcast on 14. December 2016 at 8.15 p.m. as part of the Terra Mater format on SERVUS TV. Written and directed by Harald Pokieser, camera: Harald Mittermüller, editor: Michael Ranocha, music: Andy Baum

The Art of Painting with Feet

DejanaDespite her severe physical disability, 22-year-old Dejana Backo from Novi Sad in Serbia has found a way to express her exceptional artistic talent. She is a member of an international association for artists who paint with their mouths or feet. The association markets their art, thereby enabling them to live off their work. The director Katalin Hanappi produces two commercials and a short film about Dejana and her talented associates for the Austrian Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. The touching clips are shown on SERVUS TV from mid-November until the end of December 2016. Camera: Mike Fried, sound: Hermann Winklhofer, editor: Jörg Achatz. Link to the 90-second YouTube version

Back from the Brink – Saving the King’s Horses

TrakehnerTMFSThe 17. century, in Trakehnen in East Prussia: for the first time, horses are bred solely for the use of soldiers and the cavalry, in accordance with the wishes of King Frederick William I of Prussia. This breeding program produced the Trakehner horses, the oldest warmblood horse breed in the world. In 1944, the area’s local population and their horses were forced to flee before the advancing Red Army. Few Trakehner horses survived the escape, but the ones that did provided the foundation for the horses that continue to be top performers in the disciplines of dressage and eventing or horse trials. In Harald Pokieser’s documentary for Terra Mater Factual Studios, horses and humans share the limelight. First broadcast: Wednesday 2. November 2016, 8.15 p.m., SERVUS TV. Repeated 3. November 2016 at 9.10 a.m., 4. November at 3 p.m. and 6. November at 14.05 p.m.

The legendary Gerhard Hanappi

Großvater und Enkelin

In the 1950s, Gerhard Hanappi was considered one of the world’s greatest footballers, and he remains an Austrian football icon to this day. Interviews with friends, teammates and his sons reveal the real person behind the celebrated footballer and investigate why this man remains a legend.

Katalin Hanappi’s moving documentary about her grandfather, who passed away in 1980, was broadcast for the first time on 4. August at 11.15 p.m. on ORF 1.