Category Archives: Documentaries

Tokyo 2021 Olympics: The Rocky Road For Athletes

Postponed by a year. Plagued by existential rumors. The Tokyo Olympics have had a rocky road, thus far. But what’s it like for the athletes? This film looks at how Olympic hopefuls experience Olympic-sized uncertainties, under the already strained circumstances of a global pandemic.

Despite the rampant Coronavirus pandemic, the mythos of the Olympic Games is alive and well. The world’s top athletes dream of participating, though only a fraction of them will make it that far. This film accompanies four athletes over the course of a year, as they try to reach the Olympic Games in Tokyo. For fencer Alexandra Ndolo, high jumper Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch, javelin thrower Thomas Röhler and taekwondo master Madeline Folgmann, the time leading up to the Summer Games constitutes the greatest sporting challenge of their lives.

The postponement of the Games throws a wrench in their intensive training plans. It also forces them to confront some uncomfortable questions. What if all of this intensive preparation goes to waste? Are they working towards a moment in their lives that may never come? These four competitive athletes experience a year full of disruption, hardships, health risks, small successes, and big disappointments.

For one athlete, the pandemic even becomes a stroke of luck – but can she take advantage of it? The challenges that these elite athletes face striving for their dream of competing in the Olympic Games are unique. It is a time that will leave its mark on these athletes, as they embark on a journey with an uncertain outcome.

Conservation: The Marble Quarries Of Carrara, italy

Italy’s Carrara marble quarries are a source of controversy, pitting nature against economic gain. Environmentalists warn of overexploitation, while others defend the jobs these Tuscan quarries provide.

Franco Barratini quarries marble blocks that sell for €4,000 per ton. The amount of marble that was once quarried in a month can now be extracted in just three days, and environmentalists are alarmed at the consequences. Marble dust leaks into groundwater, turns rivers milky-white and hangs in the air. The effects of this are still not completely clear.

Sandro Manfredi is fighting what he sees as severe overexploitation in the marble quarries of Tuscany’s Apuan Alps. In 2018, he filed a complaint against an illegal marble quarry, and afterwards was nearly killed when someone tampered with his car. Carrara has experienced four floods in the last nine years. Environmentalists blame marble quarrying, which has increased dramatically thanks to rapidly evolving extraction techniques, upsetting the region’s hydrogeological balance.

Nature & Wildlife Films: ‘Wild Slovenia’ (Trailer)

“Wild Slovenia ” A film by Matej Vranič. World Premiere at the 2021 WCFF.

SYNOPSIS:
The documentary WILD SLOVENIA visually presents the very diverse fauna and flora of Slovenia, focusing on mammals and birds, and shows some particularly interesting species of amphibians, fish, insects and plants.

In the film, we venture among the highest Alpine peaks and into the remote Dinaric forests; we travel across the Pannonian plains, descend into the underground caves of the Karst world and dive into the Adriatic Sea. The film offers the insight into the secret life of some animal species that live in close proximity to humans, often even in an urban environment, but never quite come to our sight. We witness individual interactions between humans and animals. Throughout the 83-minute film, stunning details from the animal world emerge, combined into compelling and unobtrusively instructive stories shown through interesting footage. More than 50 animal species are presented; monitored over a period of one year and presented in different roles, as dictated by their life cycle – hunting and eating, courting, fighting, mating, and caring for the offspring. With the more common species, that we see frequently, the film introduces some lesser-known features.

The film, which takes place over a period of one year, also takes the viewer through typical Slovenian landscapes and briefly introduces their main characteristics. The plot crosses between the provinces and occasionally returns to the same area in order to show what is happening in the animal world in the second part of the year. A very rich ecosystem diversity, rarely seen recordings, and scientifically verified information weaved into the intelligible text are key attributes of this film.

Marine Ecosystems: ‘Blue Crabs’ – Super Predators Of The Mediterranean

A captivating #crustacean and a ferocious #predator: in this edition we discover a #transatlantic invader that’s taking no prisoners in its quest for domination. Safe from its natural predators on the Atlantic coast of #NorthAmerica, the blue crab devours everything in its path, dealing a painful blow to an already fragile #ecosystem.

Cities & Architecture: Nagoya – Japan (Video)

Focus in on the picturesque architecture of Nagoya, a city that reflects the past, present and future of Japan.

[Skip Intro] 1:04

Nagoya, capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, is a manufacturing and shipping hub in central Honshu. The city’s Naka ward is home to museums and pachinko (gambling machine) parlors. Naka also includes the Sakae entertainment district, with attractions like the Sky-Boat Ferris wheel, which is attached to a mall. In northern Naka is Nagoya Castle, a partly reconstructed 1612 royal home displaying Edo-era artifacts.

Craft Chocolate: Finding The Best Cacao Beans

Like craft beer, craft chocolate is hip. The more exotic the cocoa, the more popular the end product. Craft chocolatiers comb the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon in search of cacao varieties that have never been used in chocolate production before.

Their prospective buyers belong to a select group of connoisseurs with a taste for exotic cocoa beans. Aside from satisfying people’s craving for luxury, craft chocolate makers are also working to create positive change. They’re helping local cocoa farmers document the widespread impact of illegal deforestation, the drug trade, and large agribusinesses on the lives of the indigenous population in Peru’s Amazonas region. Will craft chocolatiers succeed in getting consumers to shell out more money – enough to ensure cocoa farmers‘ livelihoods? Can they get chocoholics to develop a craving for high quality, organic products that also support environmental sustainability?

Urban Views: Living In China’s Megacities (Video)

More than 60 percent of China’s population of 1.4 billion currently lives in cities. Within a decade, the share of urban dwellers is expected to increase to 75 percent. Construction is booming and competition for residential land is fierce.

But the right to live in a city in China is conditional. Authorities want their modern cities to be peopled with well-educated, highly-qualified or politically well-connected residents. As a result, certain standards have to be met to be eligible for a modern, urban home. Only members of China’s political classes and the financially successful have a hope of qualifying. Yet more than half of the people who live in cities are so-called “migrant workers.” They come from rural communities and have no official rights to settle in cities. They are there to work. With no proper rights, they are merely tolerated while they serve as merchants, servants, waitstaff, cleaners, construction workers and tradespeople.

But while they are indispensible to daily life in the cities, they are unable to afford their exorbitant rents. This documentary looks at how and where these workers live, and asks whether middle and working class Chinese even figure in the official vision of shiny, high-tech cities. The filmmakers also look at what happens to those who oppose official plans, or stand in the way of the building boom.

Climate: Mozambique Builds Green Areas To Curb Cyclone Flooding

In 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique’s port city of Beira. Many died and entire neighborhoods were flooded. The city is now setting up large green areas designed to absorb future floodwaters. But entire fishing communities need to relocate.

Views: The Endangered Species Refuge Of ‘Sir Bani Yas Island’ – Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Arabian oryx is a beautiful, almost luminously white antelope. But, after being over-hunted by humans in the 20th century, it only narrowly escaped extinction. Today, on the desert island of Sir Bani Yas, the endangered animals find refuge. Part of an archipelago west of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas is home to a large wildlife reserve, where animals from Arabia, Asia and Africa roam freely. You can watch cheetahs hunting, and imagine how the Bedouins once lived, under open desert skies. Established in the 1970s, extensive ecological measures turned Sir Bani Yas into a man-made “paradise for wild animals.” Now, the reserve stands for the region’s desire for a sustainable future. It’s also a great place to see the magnificent Arabian oryx running free, once more.

Sir Bani Yas Island is part of the Al Gharbia region of the United Arab Emirates. It’s dominated by the Arabian Wildlife Park, with its roaming giraffes, cheetahs and gazelles. Multiple archaeological sites across the island include the ruins of an ancient Christian monastery. Salt dome hills define the island’s desert interior. The coast features beaches, sea kayak routes and a shipwreck.

Views: Camel Herders Of The Sahara Desert (Video)

It was once common practice to herd camels hundreds of kilometers through the desert. Now, with only a handful of herders left, the ancient art of desert navigation will soon be lost. From the south of Morocco, the great Sahara Desert extends more than a thousand kilometers into Mauritania. Hot and dry, the desert is hostile to life.

Yet for centuries, camel herders have successfully traveled back and forth across this landscape, between their herd’s winter and summer camps. Today, only some thousand families remain dedicated to this traditional way of life. They breed dromedaries: domesticated, one-humped camels. Among these guardians of the old ways are the shepherds Moulay and Hadrami, both of the Oulad Ben Sbaa tribe. Their families live in the city, having abandoned the nomadic life.

But Moulay and Hadrami are passionate shepherds, closely bonded to their 200 camels. In this rich documentary, the men take us along as they go about their work: arming themselves against sandstorms, preparing their herd for nightly migrations, and searching the desert’s endless expanse for lost newborn animals and their mothers. An invaluable glimpse into the hardscrabble existence of these shepherds, the film shows a way of a life that will soon cease to exist.