Lightning Reloaded

Blitze Rapid CitySpiral clouds of steel blue and ink black, bolts of lighting stretching for miles casting a spider’s web across the sky, eerie rumblings and thunder strikes freezing one’s blood, accompanied by rain, storms and hail: Thunderstorms are light shows literally off the planet.

These tremendous forces of nature are beautiful and frightening alike … and more than just heavy weather. Recent research data indicate that heavy storms and lightning in Africa are generating the notorious Atlantic hurricanes which hit the Caribbean and the US coast every summer. The bolts are even connected to climate change and obviously influence earth’s magnetic field. However, up to the present day we don’t know exactly were these lightning strikes come from and how they are created.

These topics are all part of this documentary that will focus on the current state of lightning and thunder storm research using latest digital video technology. It traces the myth of ball lightning and goes into detail of a lightning strike’s anatomy as well as provides answers to sprites – lightning bolts that explode into the depth of space. A co-production by ORF, Cosmos Factory, National Geopraphic Channel, National Geographic Channels International and ZDF.

Sea of Creepy Monsters

See der kleinen MonsterThe 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. Written an directed by Manfred Christ. Camera: Claudia and Manfred Hochleithner.

Link with the Lynx

milos und die luchseWith 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 wildlife filmmaker Tomas Hulik followed the journey of the lynx siblings from their warm nursery inside a cabin into the wilderness.
A co-production of Cosmos Factory, ORF, NDR, STV (Slovakia) in association with Vienna Film Fund, Austrian Television Fund.

The Big Picture

der große horizontLife on earth captured through satellite technology – a unique picture from space that offers an extraordinary and different view of our planet. Our space detectives create precise satellite pictures and spot potential problems. Floods and fires can be tracked daily and movements of ocean currents and snow cover can be followed throughout the season. “Big Picture” opens the skies to let us peak as an outsider into a palette of discoveries on earth. (2010, written and directed by Paul Reddish)


Extreme! – From Valley Deep to Mountain High

Peru ExtremIn the near future, some of the settlement areas will become uninhabitable, and new land will need to be tapped into because of climate change. Are there any limitations to realizing the impossible? The third part of filmmaker Udo Maurer’s voyage through the world’s extremes compares life at sea level with the highest mountains of the world. From the lagoons and palm beaches of the South Sea Islands whose highest peak is often only soem few meters high to the highlands of Ethiopia at four thousand metres. From the shores of Dead Sea, located at 408 meters below sea level, to the 5400 meter high La Rinconada, the gold minder city, in the Peruvian Andes. La Rinconada is not like any other place, it is the highest inhabited place on Earth. If someone dares to go that long stretch, it is only for one reason: to become rich. In fact, there is gold in La Rinconada – and that attracts adventurers from all over the world.
Directed by Udo Maurer, written by Manfred Christ. A co-production of ORF, FreMantle Media and Cosmos Factory.

Extreme! – From Drought to Deluge

Udo Maurer in India 2009In 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.
Directed by Udo Maurer, written by Manfred Christ. A co-production of ORF, FreMantle Media and Cosmos Factory.