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The goal of this new research report is to deepen our understanding and further our thinking about how nature, environmental and science media can change hearts, minds and behaviors. How can we use media to be a powerful means for individual, societal, policy, and cultural transformation?
We have unprecedented opportunities to engage audiences in the critical challenges facing our planet, from climate crises, pandemics, species extinction, to environmental injustice and racism. Today’s complex media landscape provides new ways to achieve significant impact with micro-targeted precision. There is potential to expand diversity, equity and inclusion, and to amplify a global range of perspectives.
This research was conducted by CEF Executive Director Maggie Burnette Stogner with the assistance of two graduate students, Nicole Wackerly and Carlos Macher. CEF’s ongoing impact media research is supported by HHMI/Tangled Bank Studios.
The Hidden Tiger Documentary From Rescue Doc Films Spotlights America’s Unique Tiger Tragedy by Jason Peters
20 December 2020
A new documentary "The Hidden Tiger" will be released this month, on the 26th of December, featuring Carole and Howard Baskin of "Tiger King" fame.
There are now more tigers living in the backyards, roadside attractions, theme parks, zoos, and sanctuaries in the United States than there are in the wild globally. A new documentary from Rescue Doc Films, The Hidden Tiger – with help from Carole and Howard Baskin of Tiger King fame – shows what abusers like Joe Exotic and Doc Antle want to keep hidden: the truth about American tigers.
In early 2020, The Netflix documentary Tiger King was viewed more than 34 million times in the first ten days of release. The Hidden Tiger focuses on the uniquely American problem captive tigers present and how people like the Baskins and other organizations are combating it. Under-regulated, over-bred and often mistreated, these apex predators are born into a lifetime of captivity with a surprising and unintended consequence – their caged existence helps undermine the already difficult task of saving their wild counterparts.
The Hidden Tiger is a global exposé revealing the links between captive tigers and the wild tigers’ possible extinction. Traveling around the world, Rescue Doc Films has uncovered alarming realities:
In the U.S., there are an estimated 10,000 tigers being exploited and abused as entertainment for humans, yet fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild.
In the U.S., a tiger can be legally purchased in some states for less than a purebred dog.
First responders are at risk and ill prepared to handle attacks, escapes, and abuses involving tigers here in the U.S., such as the Zanesville massacre.
Global efforts to save the tiger from extinction are being held back by U.S. failures and fake conservation pleas by exploiters that simply want profit rather than protection.
With the December release of The Hidden Tiger, Rescue Doc Films explores promising solutions including the current conservation efforts being made in Asia and the ongoing push to enact the Big Cat Public Safety Act in The United States. With work in India, Nepal, the UK, and across the United States, Rescue Doc Films has connected top experts in the world of tiger conservation to help give tigers a voice.
The Wolf Dividing Norway: the hunter v the environmentalist
With unique access to remote communities in the snow-capped landscape of Norway, this film follows characters on either side of a fierce debate on whether to cull the wolf population. For decades the topic has split political parties, families and communities across the country, with environmentalists world-wide criticising Norway for how it handles its tiny population of critically endangered wolves.
Here, a group of hunters await news from the government on whether their yearly hunt will be permitted, while the environmentalists anticipate the worst. With angry threats on both sides, the film takes a deep dive into what’s at stake for both groups, as well as the wider world
Richard Brock's much-anticipated book Planet Crunch - the Life (or Death) of Planet Earth is coming soon!
Richard Brock has been very busy writing his book, Planet Crunch, all of last year ... An excellent use of lockdown time we say.
He want's to make our readers an interesting and useful offer. Briefly it's this:
"I was a producer in the BBC Natural History Unit for 35 years and I'm just finishing a book called “Planet Crunch - the Life (or Death) of Planet Earth". It's very visual, refreshing, personal, original and concentrates on wildlife and the natural world - who's winning or losing? Perhaps an antidote to “conservation fatigue". There are also three films (25 minutes each) for YouTube and Vimeo. Both the book and the films include: Sir David Attenborough; Greta Thunberg; biodiversity; shopping; forests; farming; fishing; food; consumption; waste/plastic/recycling; energy/oil; climate change; Covid-19; water; the media; money/fashion; Trump; aviation/travel/tourism; human population; China; nature and us. The white stork is the theme ending with some really good news. The book contains some 150 pages. There's also reference to about 100 films on similar subjects I've made over the last four years called “Wildlife Winners and Losers - How to turn losers into winners" , available, for free on YouTube and Vimeo. Please see my website (www.brockinitiative.org) for more information. At this time much attention has been drawn to the future of the planet, and my previous colleague, Sir David Attenborough has been both insistent and persistent in trying to get the message across. It's difficult these days, with the pandemic, to get attention, let alone action. The book and films are my attempt to help. There's also an extra bonus - a cheer - you - upplement! We need it. The non-profit offer I'm suggesting means the book is FREE unless you'd like to contribute something to a worthy and perhaps related cause ... I have done all this as a legacy to my sister, and mother who died aged 102. She seemed to have approved of what I was trying to do. IMPORTANT: I don't, personally, expect any income from this project. If you would like to contribute something - say £10 - to a charity of your, or my choice, please do so suggesting any preference in the way it's done. These days many charities need income to help continue projects around the world. And to extend the project, do please pass on this offer to friends and contacts, those who are concerned about the future at this time of "Planet Crunch". This isn't a con or scam. It's true! The book will come in the New Year. Please let me know if you (and others) would like to receive it." Richard Brock – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems very difficult to carry out film-making activities by foreigners in Indonesia. However, we understand the needs of the production house and tv stations to be able to create film content for their tv programs and continue to work to production deadlines.
Therefore, we, LAHUKA FILMING, would like to offer film-making using our local crews, who are undoubtedly capable of shooting, either in general or more specifically in the field of wildlife film. And we can now offer a remote filming package as well.
For that, please do not hesitate to send us your request, a synopsis, and a list of equipment/camera specs you want, then we will take the action in the location you want for your production house.
Carole Baskin, an activist for big cats, sat down and binge-watched “Tiger King” on Netflix just like everybody else. The end product, which she believed would resemble a “Blackfish” for tigers, had almost nothing to do with saving big cats, she said — a real “missed opportunity” for the film that made her famous.
Roughly 34 million people watched “Tiger King” in the first 10 days it was available, according to Nielsen. Many more watched after that.
But if “Tiger King” viewers instead focused their attention on “The Hidden Tiger,” an upcoming documentary from Knoxville director Michael Samtesto, the impact would be “Earth changing,” she told Knox News.
Samtesto called upon Baskin to share her expertise for the film, which explores the impact tiger captivity has on cats in cages and wild tiger populations.
“The Hidden Tiger,” which is scheduled to come out Dec. 26, has been in the works for more than five years. And it all started just up the road from Knoxville at Roane County’s Tiger Haven.
“The story just kind of continued to expand and unfold for us,” Samtesto told Knox News — all the way to India and Nepal.
The Hidden Tiger exposes the truth about the captive tiger population in the United States and its adverse affect on wild tiger conservation. Five years in the making, The Hidden Tiger traveled the globe, meeting with NGOs and top tiger conservation experts. The documentary exposes the exploiters and celebrates the conservationists, while presenting a clear path for us all. Together, we can save the tiger.
We are proud to be releasing The Hidden Tiger as a screening sponsor. To watch the film, simply rent/buy and watch on Vimeo here (above) and 25% of ticket proceeds after platform fees will be donated to Wildlife-film.com. Once you’ve watched the film, please go and check out the TAKE ACTION page to see what further steps you can take to help save the tiger.
A Perfect Planet from the BBC to start airing in January
The first episode of A Perfect Planet, i.e. Volcano, is due to air on Sunday 3 January 2021, on BBC One at 8pm.
Planet Earth is perfect. Everything about our world - its size, its distance from the Sun, its spin and tilt, its moon - is perfectly suited to our existence, and our planet's natural forces perfectly nurture life. A global weather system circulates and distributes fresh water to all corners of the globe, marine currents deliver nutrients to even the deepest reaches of the ocean, sunlight warms and energises everything it touches, and powerful volcanoes create and fertilise the land. As a result, there is literally no part of our planet where life can’t be found.
A Perfect Planet is a unique fusion of blue chip natural history and earth science that explains how our living planet operates. This five-part series will show how the forces of nature drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of wildlife. The first four episodes explore the power of volcanoes, sunlight, weather and oceans. The final episode in the series looks at the dramatic impact of the world’s newest force of nature: humans - and what can be done to restore our planet’s perfect balance.
A Perfect Planet takes us on a stunning visual journey, from lands drenched by the Indian Monsoon to the slopes of fiery Hawaiian volcanoes, from the tidal islands of the Bahamas to the frozen wastes of Ellesmere Island. From Arctic wolves prowling moonlit landscapes in winter, to frozen wood frogs magically thawing back to life in spring; from the vampire finches of the Galapagos who drink the blood of seabirds, to the African flamingos who gather in their thousands every year in a vast volcanic lake to breed.
This is a series that will change the way we see our home. We will witness time and again how the lives of animals are driven and enabled by our planet’s great natural forces.
David Attenborough said: "Oceans, sunlight, weather and volcanoes - together these powerful yet fragile forces allow life to flourish in astonishing diversity. They make Earth truly unique - a perfect planet. Our planet is one in a billion, a world teeming with life. But now, a new dominant force is changing the face of Earth: humans. To preserve our perfect planet we must ensure we become a force for good."
For the first time in its 63-year history, BBC Studios’ renowned Natural History Unit is setting up shop outside the U.K. In 2021, the NHU will launch a permanent satellite office in Los Angeles.
The NHU is behind some of the world’s most iconic natural history programs, including “Blue Planet II” and “Planet Earth II,” which have been watched by more than a billion people globally. The new U.S. outfit will allow the production unit to better serve its growing roster of American buyers, with a laser focus on the streamers.
In the last 18 months alone, the unit has won projects with Apple TV Plus (“Prehistoric Planet”) and NBCUniversal (10-part landmark series “The New World”), as well as PBS (“The Green Planet”), BBC America (“Frozen Planet II”) and Discovery (“Endangered”). There’s also a collaboration in place with “Avatar” helmer James Cameron and Ocean X for Nat Geo. Overall, 25 projects are currently in production.
“Our titles have a global impact, but we have been a Bristol-based company,” says Tom McDonald, head of factual for BBC Studios. “Our biggest growth [since 2019] has been with U.S. buyers so it makes sense that we grow as those relationships grow, and have a 24/7 presence [in America].”
A meaningful U.S. profile will allow the NHU — which has won more than 200 awards in the last four years, including 4 Emmys and 11 BAFTA TV awards — to pursue more digital avenues in the natural history space. There are also hopes to scout more U.S.-based on and off-screen talent.
“One of the things that happens with the growth in popularity of natural history is an emerging pool of natural history talent in the U.S., and we want to be the incubator for that talent,” says McDonald.
While it would be a “fool’s game” to find a replacement to Sir David Attenborough, the public broadcaster’s most recognized presenter who is virtually synonymous with natural history programming, the executive describes up-and-coming hosts like Chris Packham, Ella Al-Shamahi and Liz Bonnin as “exceptional” talent for the Beeb.
McDonald adds: “We’re best known at the NHU for big, blue-chip natural history programming, but we have a very rich heritage in working with on-screen talent, with expedition and travel, live programming and a growing digital unit, so part of the role of NHU L.A. is to expand the range and tone with which we work.”
The NHU L.A. team — a mix of editorial and commercial — will report into the NHU’s Bristol headquarters, working closely with the senior creative team in the U.K. The outfit will be housed at BBC Studios LA Productions, run by general manager Valerie Bruce, and will partner with that existing team on the ground.
BBC Studios launches accelerator program for assistant producers
BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the BBC, has launched the application process for its Assistant Producer Accelerator Program.
The initiative will offer 14 year-long contracts to researchers looking to “supercharge” their careers by becoming assistant producers.
Successful candidates will be provided with the best-in-class bespoke training and mentoring as well as a job placement in the genre in which they excel in order to make the career transition. Key genres will include documentaries, entertainment, factual entertainment, science and the National History Unit.
The scheme will offer placements throughout all BBC Studios Production bases from around the UK, including in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Salford.
Candidates from such underrepresented groups as the LGBTQ+ community, those with a disability, ethnic minorities, lower income groups, and different backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
The application process will be open for seven weeks – closing on Jan. 31, 2021 – with an expansive outreach program and several open house briefings in the form of ‘Open Day’ Zoom sessions and one-on-ones.
NaturVision Short Film Competition – Call for Entries Open
A message from Festivalleitung Ralph Thoms:
Our Short Film Competition for next year’s anniversary Film Festival is underway!
Under the theme Hidden Champions: The Ingenuity of Nature we’re looking for short films that showcase the fascinating or hidden characteristics and superpowers of animals and plants that are barely noticed … and so perhaps open up new perspectives for us humans as well.
The competition is open to both professionals and amateurs over 18 years of age. Entries should be no more than 20 minutes long. From animated films to science formats, fictitious adverts to documentaries, we welcome all genres and formats.
The NaturVision Short Film Award carries a prize of €5,000 and is sponsored by Audi Stiftung für Umwelt.
Virtual Eco-Comedy Awards Night A Success! By Maggie Stogner
7 December 2020
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking was delighted to be able to host the annual Eco-Comedy Awards ceremony and finally acknowledge the finalists and winners with a virtual ceremony, bringing filmmakers, families, and friends together from around the world (the CEF Awards Ceremony was originally scheduled in March during the DC Environmental Film Festival but postponed due to the pandemic).
This year’s competition had over 175 submissions from over 30 countries, amplifying diverse voices with short videos, animation, and innovative storytelling.
The theme was Clean Water and Clean Air. Five categories included Worldwide Grades K-8, High School, College/University, and Nonstudent, and, for the first time, a local DC/Maryland/Virginia category for grades K-8.
CEF partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the American University Center for Media and Social Impact, American University’s School of Communication, American University’s Office of Sustainability. Clean Air Partners partnered with us for the local competition.
A recording of the event, including the finalists and winning videos, can be found here (or watch below).
by The Nature Conservancy, this year’s theme is “Your Favorite Wild Animal” and the
celebration will be held during the DC Environmental Film Festival, which takes place from March
18 - 28, 2021.
This competition is free to enter and includes five categories for worldwide
The winner in each category will receive a cash prize and recognition at DC-EFF and on the CEF and Nature Conservancy websites.
The Eco-Comedy Video Competition exists to promote the use of comedy to engage audiences.
Around 30% of animal and plant species are at risk of extinction, according to the Red List released in December, which is an inventory of threatened species maintained by the International Union of Conservation and Nature (IUCN). Raise awareness about your favorite wild animal through the power of comedy.
Antarctic place names recognise 'modern explorers', including Alastair Fothergill!
Antarctica is getting 28 new place names to recognise British individuals who've made a major contribution to advancing science in the polar regions.
The list includes Jonathan Shanklin, co-discoverer of the ozone hole, and Alastair Fothergill, whose BBC films such as Frozen Planet have widened understanding of the White Continent.
The honourees will be associated with various mountains, glaciers and bays.
These are features known previously only by their anonymous coordinates.
It's highly unusual for so large a group of people to be recognised in this way all at once.
But the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee felt something special was required to mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the continent.
We’re very excited to announce #TooWildEthiopia - Season 1, a three-part YouTube series which follows #WWFVoices members Lauren Arthur and David Eastaugh as they explore biodiversity-rich Ethiopia - the land where the wolves wander, in search for Africa’s most rarest carnivore. With less than 500 wolves remaining today, this will be no easy task. These animals are not crying wolf, at risk of their howls fading forever from the horn of Africa. Will Lauren and David be lucky enough to see this remarkable species in its natural habitat?
Gangetic Dolphin Beaten To Death In Uttar Pradesh, 3 Arrested As Video Goes Viral
Lucknow: A dolphin is beaten to death with sticks and rods by a group of men in a disturbing video that has emerged from Uttar Pradesh. Three men have been arrested after the video went viral on social media.
In a tweet, the police in Pratapgarh said the incident took place on December 31 and three of the attackers are in jail.
The gangetic dolphin is a protected species.
In a display of extreme cruelty, the men are seen on the video raining blows on the dolphin as blood gushes from its body. Some men can be seen holding down the dolphin. "Faaltu mein maar rahe ho yaar (you are assaulting it for no reason)," someone is heard saying but the men do not stop.
As the dolphin bleeds, a man can be seeing attacking it with an axe and driving the weapon into its body. Towards the end of the video, the dolphin appears to be nearly lifeless from the vicious attack.
WaterBear Network, a new free, interactive
video-on-demand platform dedicated to supporting life on earth, has today launched to a
global audience of viewers who want to turn intention into action.
Prince Harry, The Duke of
Sussex was joined by WaterBear leaders Actress/Activist Lily Cole, Actress and
environmental activist Maisie Williams and Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl) in celebrating the
launch of the platform.
WaterBear’s brand ambassadors have a combined reach of 25 million and will take an active
role in creating content with the production team and be interviewed on WaterBear’s
original interview series: The Bear Hug in 2021.
Now live in eight countries around the world; the Netherlands, US, Canada, UK, Ireland,
South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand; WaterBear is an innovative digital platform and
mobile app with the goal of fundamentally changing the way people look at our world, love,
care and engage with it. Encouraging its audience to engage with a world of constructive
change based on three pillars: watch, join, take action.
Showcasing award-winning documentaries, inspirational original content and live streaming,
WaterBear collectively facilitates awareness, education and action. With original content and
curated documentaries inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs), WaterBear members will now be able to stream hours of video at any time, and on
any device - all for free.
The network democratises the journey from inspiration to education, connection and
participation in making a difference. Its pioneering interactive technology enables viewers to
watch content, while donating to WaterBear NGO partners, getting involved with the
projects behind the featured films through advocacy or volunteering, or by booking
sustainable travel. Throughout 2021 TVOD, PPV, Live, sustainable e-commerce and more Take
Action features will be rolled out.
WaterBear is working with incredible storytellers including filmmaker, activist and influencer Jack Harries ; producer, director and writer Tom Mustill; environmental journalist and The
One Show’s Lucy Siegel and Emmy Award winner Nicolas Brown among many others.
Addressing issues such as biodiversity, climate action, circularity and community.
The interactive network aims to re-imagine corporate responsibility - creating a unique
ecosystem for impact. From storytelling to innovative technology, content creation and
global partnerships it will help brands to fulfil their own SDG objectives and ultimately
contribute to a brighter future for all.
Entirely independent, Resilient Foundation works in partnership with WaterBear to help
fund, produce and distribute high quality, data-driven and inspirational content in
partnership with its growing network of NGOs. WaterBear and Resilient’s unique vision -
backed by the might and experience of Off the Fence, ZDF-E and more - is to bring together
three things: great storytelling; a global network of purpose-driven organisations; and
technology that facilitates impact and action.
WaterBear has acquired and produced a vast collection of high calibre content, setting the
bar for how innovative storytelling can create awareness, motivate people and inspire action.
The first WaterBear Original -Africa’s Hidden Seaforest(Swati Thiyagarajan) - a short film about facing our fears,
mental health and natures’ healing powers, as well as carbon sequestration below the
ocean is amongst a selection of original productions that will be available for global viewing
after today’s launch. Anthropocene is a cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive
reengineering of the planet, licensed to WaterBear by their partners ZDF Enterprises. With
The Bear Hug, WaterBear will dip into interviews with impact, hosted by WaterBear’s Head of
Strategy, Sam Sutaria.
The launch of this platform is now even more relevant as the world deals with the impacts of
the coronavirus, which continues to set back many environmental and human rights
initiatives. In these unprecedented times, people around the world are increasingly
demanding change and the crisis presents an opportunity to build back a better world.
Lily Cole, WaterBear Leader said: “Story-telling has an absolutely critical role to play in
helping guide and inspire us to address our collective environmental crises - so I was
delighted to learn about WaterBear, and their dedication to creating and sharing powerful
stories that will inspire, educate and connect us to the threats and opportunities facing our
natural world. We need stories like this now more than ever.”
Maisie Williams, WaterBear Leader said: "I’m so excited to be a WaterBear Leader. This
truly groundbreaking platform gives us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with
important, educational content focusing on the sustainability of our planet, empowering us
to question the status quo and consider how we can contribute to permanent, effective
change.The power to save our planet is in all of our hands, and WaterBear is handing us the
tools. I am excited to be joining them on this journey to make further change by raising
awareness for issues us and future generations face.”
Dr Mya-Rose Craig said, “ I' m very excited to join WaterBear as an ambassador. Being able
to take immediate action after watching and engaging with content is exactly what the
world needs right now and I couldn't be more excited to join a team striving to make a real
Jack Harries, environmentalist and activist said, “ Storytelling is the most powerful tool we
have in our fight to tackle climate change and create a fairer, greener planet for all. As a
filmmaker I have always looked for a platform that is dedicated solely to telling these stories.
WaterBear represents a new type of media company, one that is dedicated to inspiring the
next generation to find tangible sol utions to some of the most pressing issues of our time.”
Ellen Windemuth, CEO, WaterBear Network said : “Nothing matters more to me than
training a young generation of talented storytellers to create more inspiration and
excitement around those values that will give our children a better future. The best way to
focus this network is on the UN SDGs – seventeen key values which already more than 193
countries have committed to together.
Victor Eckard, Managing Director, WaterBear Network said: “WaterBear represents the
collective vision of millions of people around the world that believe there is hope and that
the future is full of opportunities to make the world a better place. At WaterBear we believe
in collaboration, local and global partnerships, and using the power of inspirational
storytelling, networking and technology to reach and inspire as many people around the
world as possible to act (in a small or big way) to make a positive difference to the world we
The WaterBear Network is designed to galvanize the hard and dedicated work being done
in the field by our world’s most effective NGOs - with top quality storytelling expertise from
the documentary world. With this, we can share our impact universe with a global audience
and engage each viewer with the cause they feel most passionately about.”
Sam Sutaria, Head of Strategy, WaterBear Network said : “This is the start of decades of
action, and we firmly believe WaterBear can play a central role in the global fight for a
sustainable future. We also believe in the power of good business, and its role to play as we
face the challenges ahead. WaterBear is no exception. We are busy building and driving a
sustainable business model that is uniquely designed to support a growing network of
frontline champions and organizations.”
Andrea Walji, Head of Content and Production said “At WaterBear, we will always keep
impactful storytelling at the heart of all we do. We are delighted to welcome on board such
high quality content creators: talented directors, producers, personalities, celebrities,
influencers, scientists, journalists, and of course our valued NGO partners. And we are always
looking to expand and build on our network of global filmmakers to keep adding content to
Lisa Rose, Head of Impact, WaterBear Network said : “We are stubborn optimists at
WaterBear - we’re focused on solutions and the simple, positive steps everyone can take to
support them. We believe both systemic change and behaviour change are possible and
essential on a massive scale and we are facilitating both types of change on WaterBear.”
WaterBear is the first network of its kind: a free interactive video and digital platform
dedicated to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It does this through
inspirational content, cutting-edge technology that facilitates action, and through its global
network of partners. It uniquely empowers the viewer to take direct instant action to support
NGOs around the world and shape a better future for our fragile planet.
About WaterBear’s CEO, Ellen Windemuth
Prior to WaterBear, she was owner and CEO of Off the Fence, having founded the company
in 1994. Under her leadership Off the Fence has acquired, produced and co-produced over
6,000 hours of content.
Ellen is a seasoned Executive Producer and Distributor and has produced over 500 hours to
date herself. She is the Chair of the Jackson Hole Film Festival Board, Honorary President of
the Sunnyside Doc 2019 festival in La Rochelle, France and is active in conservation and land
development. Her experience in factual entertainment programming is extensive in both
production and distribution. Ellen was recently presented with Wildscreen’s Christopher
Parson’s Outstanding Achievement Awards 2018. She has three children and a great passion
for the outdoors.
About Resilient Foundation
Resilient Foundation is a registered charity based in the Netherlands, that seeks to raise
funds to educate the public in all matters pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. The mission aligns deeply with that of WaterBear. The partnership is simple:
Resilient raises funds to produce inspirational and educational content, and uses WaterBear
to produce and distribute that content to the world - for free.
ANIMOSITY: Snapshots from the Frontline of Conservation – Will COVID-19 Finally bring an End to Wildlife Tourism? by Izzy Sasada
Pictures: Aaron Gekoski
21 December 2020
The abrupt halt we have all experienced at the hand of Covid19 serves as a stark reminder that humans are not separate from the animal world, but inextricably linked. ANIMOSITY, by award-winning environmental photojournalist, Aaron Gekoski, offers a snapshot of the main issues facing wildlife today, showcasing a collection of powerful photographs and absorbing tales from the frontlines of conservation- from wildlife tourism and the exotic pet trade, to the illegal wildlife trade and marine conservation.
Aaron Gekoski has spent the last decade as an environmental photojournalist, and since 2017 he has turned his camera on wildlife tourism, exposing the dire underworld of the animal entertainment industry.
From travelling circuses and elephant rides, to orangutan boxing venues and otter pet cafes, his journey documenting wildlife entertainment has taken him across four continents and to more than a dozen countries.
But by April 2020, Covid19 had spread across the planet, and the tourism and travel industries of which we knew had collapsed. With countries closing boarders and venues shutting their doors, one can only imagine the conditions in which imprisoned animals are kept. There have been reports of lions left to starve at Gamji Gate Zoo in Kaduna, Nigeria, and accounts of starvation and lack of veterinary healthcare within Thailand’s captive elephant population, as the pandemic forced at least 85 camps to close.
It is difficult to predict how wildlife tourism will survive in the post-Covid19 era. The pandemic is certainly thought to be somewhat of a watershed moment regarding our understanding of our relationship with the natural world and the illicit trade of endangered creatures. An optimistic perspective is that this newfound understanding of our relationship with the natural world will lead to a reconsideration of the existence of these venues.
Whatever the future holds for the wildlife tourism, for many of the animals photographed in ANIMOSITY, it is too late. The book showcases today’s issues of conflict, conservation and mankind’s complicated relationship with the natural world. So, sit back, enjoy, shed a tear, and be repulsed or inspired by some of the stories contained within ANIMOSITY.
ANIMOSITY can currently be purchased at 25% off ... from The Book Depository with FREE DELIVERY WORLDWIDE
Submissions are open for the 44th International Wildlife Film Festival! We look forward to seeing stunning work by old friends but we hope to hear from new voices whose view needs more representation in this industry. Thank you for sharing your unique view on our natural world with our 2021 judging panel - we are honored.
In addition to a 2021 virtual festival, we hope to include hybrid screening opportunities; outdoor installations, IWFF at The Roxy's Centerfield Cinema (the ballfield), intimate screenings in The Roxy's Movie Garden, and maybe something else? Never fear - our team is creative and fearless and this festival will be unique and inspiring for all.
Our 2020 festival pivoted in 3 weeks to execute one of the first virtual film festivals in the industry this past April. We sold passes in 47 states and 27 other countries. The festival was met with joy and gratitude across the globe. 2020 filmmakers connected with our audiences at a time where connections were rare and the unknown loomed large. Since then, our staff has executed multiple other virtual festivals so please be assured - your work is in good hands.
2021 Theme: Rising From the Depths
Each year, we create one thematic submission category that will also serve as the thematic focus for our 44th IWFF this Spring. We are eager to see the creative, other-worldly, urgent, and unexpected cinematic responses to this special focus.
Whales are the guardians of the oceans and, as they navigate the tumultuous currents, they serve as a steadfast symbol for all of us as we navigate the currents of life and the climate crisis. This year, IWFF celebrates the voices, stories, and work that penetrate the depths of these unprecedented times. This 2021 thematic category seeks films that investigate the countless creatures that dwell far from the surface and encourages responses that vary in their interpretation of the theme "rising from the depths", whether that be environmental, socio-political, species-specific, or metaphorically-focused.
2021 Submission Details
The 2021 IWFF Submission Categories are:
Short Short, Short, Feature, Series, Student, Children’s, New Vision, Living with Wildlife, Animal Behavior, Wildlife Conservation, Sustainable Planet, and
2021 thematic category: Rising From The Depths
Semifinalists will be announced for each category when the festival lineup is announced.
This year, we have lowered festival fees in recognition of the reality of screening online and the unique challenges filmmakers face. We see you!
Our 2021 festival strategy is to accept fewer selections than usual in an effort to represent the films with a large amount of positive support, grassroots community involvement, and attention to detail. That means - the competition is heating up and our 2021 selections will truly feel the love!
IWFF Submission Deadlines
Opening Date: November 1
Regular Deadline: December 14
Late Deadline: January 11
Final Deadline: February 1
Notifications: February 26
David Attenborough to return to BBC with a second series of Dynasties
David Attenborough will return to BBC One with a second series of Dynasties - following the lives of different animals.
Dynasties II will feature a new cast of animal characters in its journey from the southern tip of the snow-capped Andes, to dusty plains in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, to vast wetlands fed by the flooding of the Zambezi River - to tell the stories of an elephant, cheetah, puma and hyena.
Each episode will delve deep into the lives of individual groups, filming in a single location and focusing on a single leader, following them on their quest to keep their family safe and establish their genetic line.
The second series will follow Angelina the matriarch elephant, she-cheetah Kali, Rupestre the puma and hyena clan-leader Suma, as they are confronted by a changing world with competition for dwindling resources.
The first series in 2018, which was watched by more than eight million people, followed characters including David the chimpanzee, Charm the lioness, Blacktip the painted wolf and more.
Jack Bootle, head of commissioning, for science and natural history at the BBC, said: "Dynasties II will be a gripping look at the lives of four remarkable wild animals as they struggle to build a family against the odds.
"With characters you fall in love with, and genuine life-and-death stakes, this will be a series every bit as thrilling as the greatest drama."
Mike Gunton, the show's executive producer, added: "Being able to tell these stories is a wildlife film-makers dream - and just like in series one, they are going to be a gripping rollercoaster ride."
Support mounts for a global treaty to combat plastic pollution– but much work remains to secure it
Last week (13 Nov '20), the ‘ad hoc expert group’ (AHEG) tasked by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to explore global options to combat plastic waste was concluded.
The fulfilment of the its mandate marks two years of consultations between countries and observers to take stock of existing activities, identify potential global actions and analyse their potential effectiveness in tackling plastic pollution.
Despite a transition to an online virtual platform, the meeting yielded fervent discussions and deliberations on the best route forwards.
Over the lifetime of the AHEG, appetite for a new binding global treaty has become increasingly apparent – not just from countries, regions and civil society organisations, but also the business community which now see the added value in a global agreement. Nowhere has this support been more apparent than at last week’s fourth and final AHEG meeting.
Nominated for Global Citizen's UK's Hero Award, Craig is a leading voice for protecting nature.
Back in September, Mya-Rose Craig spent three weeks onboard a ship exploring the arctic with Greenpeace UK.
The voyage was to bear witness to the moment when the sea ice reaches its annual minimum at the end of summer, before temperatures turn again and the ice thickens.
But never one to pass up an opportunity for raising awareness about the climate crisis — Craig decided to hop onto the ice one Friday and hold up her “Youth Strike for Climate” sign, resulting in a stunning image of the 18-year-old protestor surrounded by melting ice stretching to the horizon.
“I was actually on the ice for quite a long time, about five hours in total that day,” Craig tells Global Citizen. “I really wanted to experience being on the ice, as we had mostly been on the boat. I sat down and I could feel the sea underneath and hear it crackling.”
It wasn’t as easy as just standing and getting a quick photo, either, Craig says that everyone on the trip was worried about the possibility of roaming polar bears — and she was the only person who was left on the ice by herself. But despite this, she feels it was worth it.
“It was an amazing experience, really special, I felt like I could be out there for so long because of the adrenaline,” Craig continues.
The expedition, and staging the world’s apparently most northerly climate protest during it, cap off an impressive year for Craig.
“For me it’s so important that #COP26 is successful’
David Attenborough: ‘The Earth and its oceans are finite. We need to show mutual restraint’
At 94, what has the world’s most-travelled naturalist learned? He talks garden birds in lockdown, the eerie silence of Chernobyl – and tackling the climate crisis
David Attenborough: ‘People give me credit I simply don’t earn.’
Before the stay-at-home orders of 2020 kept him in one place for months on end, David Attenborough had never sat in his garden and listened to the birds. Not properly, he says, not determinedly “swotting up with a notebook and keeping a bird list”. The foremost figure in natural-world broadcasting (so admired by naturalists around the planet, he has three types of plant as well as a spider, snail, grasshopper, frog, lizard, marsupial lion and shark-like fish named after him) hardly paid attention to the wildlife on his doorstep until lockdown forced his hand. From spring through to autumn, he says, he sat outside with a pencil and made a determined effort to identify every species he could hear. Blackbirds. Thrushes. Jays. Blue tits and great tits. Swifts.
“Actually, I couldn’t really hear the swifts,” the 94-year-old admits. Something to do with their pitch, and his failing ears. “My hearing,” Attenborough growls, using the breathy, mournful voice that often accompanies footage of an ageing alpha getting supplanted by a younger fitter animal, “is not what it was.”
David Royle, EVP of programming and production and a founding team member of the Smithsonian Channel, is leaving in the new year after 14 years at the network, Realscreen has confirmed.
A source confirmed that Royle would be leaving to “pursue new ventures.”
Under Royle’s editorial direction, Smithsonian Channel, originally a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institute, established itself as one of the world’s premium factual entertainment channels by winning six Emmys, gaining 31 Emmy nominations, The Television Academy Honors, a BAFTA and a Peabody.
Royle also played a key role in successfully launching the channel throughout the UK, Latin America and Brazil.
Sounds of Canada explored in new series from Sarika Cullis-Suzuki with Peter Mieras
Canadian Audible Original takes listeners on a cross-country journey through sound
We talk a lot about what Canada looks like — from lakes to oceans, mountains to forests. But what does Canada sound like? A new series from Audible Canada aims to answer that question.
Sarika Cullis-Suzuki narrates Wild Sounds of Canada, a Canadian Audible Original series that takes listeners on an intimate tour across Canada, immersing them in the natural sounds of the nation. From the Tombstone Mountains of the Yukon Territory to the coastal plains of Newfoundland, each episode is alive with the buzzes, warbles and howls of Canada’s wildlife, allowing listeners to discover the spectacular sounds recorded by a team of researchers during their adventures.
“I was already spending a lot of time listening to animals under the waves in the ocean,” says Cullis, who was doing a PhD that involved underwater audio recordings of a specific fish. “I was already tuned in to this audible world and so when Audible approached me about this series I thought it was a perfect fit.”
Cullis-Suzuki never thought her research listening to animals would lead to her narrating an Audible series, but she says it was a perfect time to do it.
“When people listen to these episodes, they’re full of calm. It’s a nice feeling to get right now when things are so unknown and scary. There’s something about being in nature that just calms us and centres and relaxes you,” she says. “It’s been a really rewarding experience.”
Member Peter Mieras was was the main sound recordist for the BC episode of the "Wild Sounds of Canada" audiobook ... Available from: audible.ca/ep/wild-sounds-of-canada He said "What a great team to have worked with!"
‘Our Planet’ Producer Silverback Films Launches Studio Silverback For Environmental Impact Projects
Key creatives behind blue-chip natural history producer Silverback Films — the powerhouse outfit behind Netflix’s “Our Planet” — have teamed to form sister company Studio Silverback.
The new production outfit will focus solely on films that tackle the world’s pressing environmental challenges, and will be headed up by Jonnie Hughes, Colin Butfield, Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill. Silverback co-founders Scholey and Fothergill will also be directors of Studio Silverback.
Meanwhile, executive director Colin Butfield is a former executive director at international conservation charity the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) who worked with Silverback to conceive and produce the series “Our Planet,” its accompanying digital ‘Halo’ project and “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,” on which Hughes was also a director and producer.
“The blend of the four of us together means we can cover off all the main areas we’d want to influence if we’re to achieve the mission, to tell this story to as many people as possible,” Butfield tells Variety.
Scholey adds that Butfield’s WWF bona fides have the capacity to open all sorts of doors, and not only in the environmental space. Butfield was instrumental in the Silverback team and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, getting invited to Davos for the World Economic Forum 2019, where the Prince interviewed Sir David Attenborough.
“That made it a really big impact moment to bring environmental issues to some of the most important people in the world,” Scholey tells Variety. “And we as filmmakers find that impossible to arrange.”
The relationship forged at Davos has spun off into one of Studio Silverback’s first commissions: a five-part BBC series leading up to The Earthshot Prize, a global award designed to incentivize change and help repair the planet over the next 10 years, launched by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Studio Silverback, in collaboration with WWF and Brian Leith Productions, is also producing short-form films to be shown at Saturday’s Climate Ambition Summit, which kickstarts nations’ commitments on climate change ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) at Glasgow next year.
How can we best respond to the destruction of biodiversity? asks Matilda Gennvi
The Attenborough Effect' has impacted many of us, from school children to global corporate companies. In his recent documentary, A Life On Our Planet, David Attenborough explains what we must do to reverse the damage we’ve inflicted on our planet during his lifetime. We dive into these solutions and discuss how technology can combat climate change and the destruction of biodiversity.
“The true tragedy of our time is still unfolding across the globe, barely noticeable from day to day. I’m talking about the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.” – David Attenborough, from A Life On Our Planet, 2020.
These are the words of a man who has seen the destruction of the world’s wildlife within his lifetime.
For me, being a person with deep feelings for the nature we’re part of, it felt heartbreaking to realize the vastness of the destroyed habitats on land and across the seas. Thankfully, after seeing over half of the movie, the future came into perspective. What is it we must do to combat this huge problem? I will come back to that.
I have read numerous reports, but the storytelling throughout David Attenborough’s life touched me in a very direct way. Since the 1980s when I studied to become an engineer, I wanted to make sure that what I did in my daily profession throughout life would support the environmental and social development of communities and the world. Since then, I have myself witnessed many biodiversity losses, such as forests and green areas. As a result, I’ve been part of local groups that have tried to defend them.
David Attenborough is a master narrator, as many of us know. At the beginning of his latest documentary, A Life On Our Planet, he says: “The natural world is fading. The evidence is all around. It’s happened in my lifetime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. This film is my witness statement and my vision for the future, the story of how we came to make this our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.”
On this Safari game drive in tsavo east, we get to see some lions inside a waterhole, a cheetah by the road, a lucky zebra who escaped the claws of lions, a trio of jackals and many varieties of birds.
On this Safari game drive in tsavo east, we get to see a member of the big five and little five together, a rosy patched bush shrikes love song, an elephant giving a stay where you are warning, an lovely orange bellied parrot couple, giraffe, hippos, jackals and many varieties of birds.
Sir David Attenborough praises power of TV as he is honoured at Rose d’Or Awards
Sir David Attenborough has praised the power of television after being recognised at the Rose d’Or Awards.
The broadcaster, 94, was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the virtual ceremony on Wednesday 9th of December.
The Rose d’Or Awards, established in 1961, celebrate achievement in entertainment programming.
Sir David said: “When I started in television, it’s difficult to believe it but creatures like pangolins or sloths or armadillos were really quite unknown to the general public.
“Not because of me particularly, but because of television.
“Television has told the world about the wild population, the wild part of the world, and that’s essential that we know about it and we know how it works, and we understand why it is that we are damaging it so badly.”
Wildfires and Attenborough’s witness statement: The biggest climate crisis moments of 2020
Sam Hancock looks back at the year – one of the three hottest on record – in climate milestones
This year has marked a seismic shift in the climate crisis, both in terms of the pledges made by world leaders to fight it and the environment’s less than subtle hints it has had enough of being mistreated.
In his Netflix documentary, A Life On Our Planet, which was released in October, David Attenborough pointed out the irony that we are all “bound by and reliant upon the finite natural world about us” but that we had allowed “our blind assault” against it to “alter the very fundamentals of the living world”.
And considering how 2020 began – with the hottest January recorded in over 140 years – and how it will end – with the UN confirming it is one of the top warmest years ever – Mr Attenborough was right. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to abolish global warming, deforestation, carbon emissions, and melting ice caps.
Here is a look at how 2020 played out through the lens of the climate emergency, and where we stand going into the new year:
How Dolby technologies helped Plimsoll Productions use colour photography at night
Natural history television tells stories of a world without technology, using the most advanced technology available. From the first hand-held film cameras through colour TV and high definition, landmark series have showcased ever more detailed and revealing natural worlds.
Plimsoll Productions, natural history specialists from Bristol, saw the advent of low and ultra-low light cameras as a chance to once again push the boundaries – this time with colour photography at night. They sold the idea to Netflix for the streaming giant’s second original nature series, Night on Earth, which meant using Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos.
We talked to Bill Markham, Plimsoll’s series producer for Night on Earth, and director of the series finale episode ‘Dusk Till Dawn’, and Chris Domaille, dubbing mixer at post-production house Films@59 (pictured left).
Why do you think Netflix was excited about this project?
Bill Markham: Netflix had done one natural history series and was open to ideas for the next. We had realised that the new generation of low and ultra-low light cameras gave us the opportunity to create a whole new natural history aesthetic – shooting colour at night by moonlight. We could capture the entire landscape, with animals behaving totally naturally, things no human had seen.
And the range of dynamics that Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos could give, with all the extra headroom of HDR and precision soundscaping for the audio, meant we could have huge yet natural contrasts – from night ambience to the clatter of cities, or full sunsets to dark, detailed forest floors to colourful night long shots of African plains.
Chris Domaille: We got the team in as early as we could, showed them what Dolby Atmos would bring to the series, and encouraged editorially those moments of volume contrast and surround contrast. We discussed timing as well, so after a surround moment you don’t just cut to the next scene, you can hear things disappearing. Having those editorial inputs early on pushed the sound further, made it more heady.
Joaquin Phoenix a 'perfect match' for black-and-white vegan documentary
Many people stopped eating meat after watching the film
Joaquin Phoenix's latest film isn't an easy watch – and given its stark anti-meat agenda, it isn't meant to be.
The Joker star and vegan activist executive-produced Gunda, a stripped-down, black-and-white movie delivering intimate portraits of a cast of adorable farmyard animals.
The film has no narration, dialogue or plot. But as viewers get to know Gunda the Norwegian pig and her litter of squealing newborn piglets living their everyday lives, their inevitable fate looms.
"The life of piglets is obvious. They become sausages," said director Victor Kossakovsky.
"But Gunda, she became so famous... so many people stopped eating meat (due to the film) that the owner of the farm decided she will live until the end of her days.
"So at least one pig is alive after this."
Vegan 2020 is the latest installment in PBN's annual series of films.
Every year since 2015, PBN has released a documentary showcasing the growth of veganism over the last 12 months.
Since 2015, the annual documentary has grown bigger, attracting millions of views each year. Vegan 2018 and 2019 peaked, premiering in cities around the world, including London, Los Angeles, and Beijing.
Vegan 2020 charts the victories and challenges of the movement over a year which has seen the world in general change beyond recognition.
Kimen: The Natural World – Producer/Cameramen Pedro Leon Juliá and Juan Marcos Fernández are a small production team based in Argentina, currently working on a nature documentary in Neuquén Province, Patagonia.
It is our belief that contemplating, studying and connecting with the natural world around us makes us stronger as individuals and as a social collective.
We have substantial knowledge of wildlife and ecological conservation practices in the region so as to get close to the animals and cause minimal impact on the environment during fieldwork.
Our extensive experience travelling deep into the Andean Patagonian forest, by foot and canoe, allows us to reach rare and remote places in the mountain range.
We handle all aspects of production. 4K acquisition: aerial, underwater and terrain. Exclusive footage is available for purchase.
We are happy to be contacted for distribution opportunities of our current documentary film and for collaboration on future projects.
Marina Fusella – a London-based freelance sound recordist with her own pro equipment and lots of experience recording on location, in all sorts of environments and most weather conditions. She's worked on documentaries, award-winning short films, low budget features, TV series, branded content and live events. Clients include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and many more.
Confident working on productions of all sizes, with both professional and inexperienced talent of all ages and walks of life, adept at putting crews at ease. She's familiar with many aspects of film production, so on shoots with minimal crew where everyone has to be hands-on, is able to operate a camera, do DIT etc. Quick to learn a new workflow or piece of equipment. She's bilingual too (Italian/English).
1x 688 sound devices 12 channels mixer/recorder
2x sanken cos11 lapel mics
2x sennheiser G3 radio mics sets
1 x 416 sennheiser shotgun mic and boom
1x directors’ Sennheiser in ear monitoring
Tentacle synch box with connectors to most cameras
Joe Galuszka – an emerging Bristol-based composer, conductor and instrumentalist, hailing from a brass band background.
Graduating in 2019 from the University of Bristol with an MA in Composition in Music for Film and Television, Joe later returned to education, to study under eminent television composers Martin Kiszko and William Goodchild. As an instrumentalist, Joe freelances across the south-west of England; including with the Bristol Symphony Orchestra and the Flowers Band. Joe is currently the Musical Director for the Winterbourne Band in Bristol and Assistant Conductor for Westerley Winds. He is also a tutor and mentor with the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain.
Still residing in the South West, Joe has written music for a number of independent short films and animations, as well as various works for chamber ensemble. In 2020, Joe is set to release his first work for string octet 'Auschwitz', in memory of his other grandfather, as well as a new work for orchestra, 'Centenary', in partnership with Arts Council England and commissioned by the Longwell Green Orchestra. The piece is set for a UK premiere in 2021.
Robert Hicks – an experienced media composer. Using collaborative and experimental processes he enjoys creating scores for TV and film projects—his music can regularly be heard on the BBC, National Geographic, Channel 4, ITV and MTV—as well as corporate clients such as Nike.
Every story is unique; Rob’s mission is to bring a story-driven approach to the craft of media scoring. By blending traditional orchestral instruments with the more contemporary sounds produced by guitars, analogue synths and outboard gear, he creates unique sonic textures which work in harmony with the visuals of great filmmakers to underpin and enhance each narrative.
Inspired by the styles of Steven Price, Ólafur Arnalds and Michael Kruk, Rob has a geeky passion for exploring the power of musical layers to augment the emotive impact of the visuals.
Rob works from Bristol (UK), where he indulges his three great loves of guitars, studio gear and roast potatoes, as well as co-hosting an online forum for Apple’s Logic Pro software.
Luca Antonio Marino – an award-winning filmmaker and photographer with experience of shooting wildlife sequences solo or with crews in varied locations across the globe; biology graduate with expertise in animal behaviour and ecology.
Competent in researching and developing natural history stories, contacting scientists, setting up location shoots/permits, data wrangling, creative editing (Adobe Premiere Pro CC, DaVinci Resolve 16, Avid Media Composer), operating a range of 4K cameras including Sony FS7 II, Canon C200, Panasonic GH5, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.
George Schnipper – A Moscow-based multilingual wildlife video editor and camera operator with a zoology background and six years of filmmaking experience. Produced over 150 works: interviews, documentaries, showreels, shorts, travel and commercial videos.
He has worked as a cameraman for a Russian wildlife series about the desert fauna of Uzbekistan. Working as production assistant for the nature documentary filmmaking company LESFILM.
Have worked with Blackmagic, Canon, Sony, Panasonic and DJI video equipment.
Moved from Denmark to the UK to study Zoology with Herpetology. Currently living in Russia. Dual citizenship allows for easy travel and relocations to sites around the world.
Fluent English, Russian and Danish languages. Basic German.
Can work as a fixer with travelling through Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Have connections with Russian nature reserves and local scientists.
Jon Nicholls – a Bristol-based composer, sound designer and multi-instrumentalist creating immersive and compelling music / sound scores for drama, documentary and interactive media for film, television, VR & audio drama.
Drawing on a huge range of influences and an extensive network of outstanding live instrumentalists, I compose and record music in a wide range of styles ranging from sweeping orchestral music to electronica, choral writing, quirky sound design and intimate acoustic textural work.
I’ve been extensively commissioned by broadcasters including BBC Radio and BBC TV, Channel 4, ITV, Sky & Al Jazeera, and my music / sound scores are regularly heard in major theatres including the National Theatre, RSC and in the West End.
As well as my composition work, I also create audio / podcast content for clients including the BBC via my audio production company Selkirk Media.
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