2015 Official Selections

Africa’s Giant Killers

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Brad Bestelink, 60 minutes, 2014

Africa’s largest herd of elephants and a fearless pride of young lions come face to face in an epic fight for survival. Rarely do their worlds collide, until now.

Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South

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Dena Seidel,

In 2014, scientists declared West Antarctic ice sheet melt unstoppable, threatening the lives of millions of people over the next century. In the wake of devastating climate events such as Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, Antarctic Edge: 70º South follows a team of scientists who choose to live a life at sea in a race to understand climate change in the fastest winter-warming place in the world. While trekking through the dangerous and uncharted landscape of the West Antarctic Peninsula, these scientists push the limits of their research and come to terms with the sacrifices necessary to understand this rapidly changing world.

Beak and Brain: Genius Birds from Down Under

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Volker Arzt & Angelika Sigl, 52 minutes, 2013

The new prodigies in the world of animals sport feathers and beaks. And they are highly talented. The documentary investigates two of the most clever creatures in animal kingdom. The film’s essence is the contrast between the humorous and agile keas and the rather steadfast and patient crows, but also the contrast of wild, untouched nature and a number of challenging and amusing intelligence tests. Whichever species comes out on top, either the keas of New Zealand, who are crazy about mental exercises and puzzles, or the crows of New Caledonia, who build and use tools depending on their needs, it’s impossible not to love these birds.

Catch Me If You Can II

Directed by: Bob Landis

Featured in our Children’s Matinee Program.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

|| Artists on Nature ||

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Werner Herzog, 1h 35m, 2011

In this documentary, filmmaker Werner Herzog and a small crew are given a rare chance to film inside France’s Chauvet Cave, where the walls are covered with the world’s oldest surviving paintings. To preserve the art, people are allowed to enter the site for only two weeks a year. Examining the 30,000-year-old drawings, Herzog discusses how the artwork represents humanity’s earliest dreams with scientists and art scholars conducting research at Chauvet.

Chances of the World Changing

|| Artists on Nature ||

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Eric Daniel Metzgar, 1h 26m, 2006

A man’s ever-growing collection of live turtles and tortoises makes his own life difficult to manage.

Chuitna: More Than Salmon on the Line

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Trip Jennings, 30 minutes, 2014

“Chuitna” chronicles the journey of conservation-minded fly fishermen who travel to Alaska’s unspoiled Chuitna Watershed to wade waist-deep into its salmon-rich waters and the fight to defeat the proposed Chuitna Coal Mine. With every cast and every conversation with the frontier Alaskans fighting to protect their homeland, the travelers obtain a deeper understanding of the mine’s devastating impact.

Consider the Ant

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Emily Fraser, 11 minutes, 2014

Abandon all hope ye who enter here? A personal search for ethics in the post-modern wilds of an overpopulated planet – where Catholic guilt, environmental destruction, and the fascinating lives of ants collide. Featuring Paul Ehrlich, the world’s leading expert on overpopulation, this kaleidoscopic journey of science and spirituality asks us, as individuals and as a species, “who are we?” and “who do we want to be?”

Earth A New Wild: Plains

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Nicolas Brown, 55 minutes, 2014

A revolutionary look at how both predators and humans can help save the spectacular gatherings of animals found on the world’s plains.

Earth A New Wild: Water

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Nicolas Brown, 55 minutes, 2014

A fresh look at humankind’s relationship with water in the wildest places on planet earth. Unravelling dramatic connections between fresh water and the health of the planet, Dr M. Sanjayan discovers spectacular wildlife stories that center around how we manage the natural pulse of the planet’s water.

Enchanted Kingdom

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Patrick Morris & Neil Nightingale, 87 minutes, 2015

Enchanted Kingdom is the most spectacular 3D journey for all the family to experience nature at its most powerful and magical. Set in Africa, home to the most amazing wildlife on Earth, you will travel through seven unique realms and meet the extraordinary animals who live in each one. Here is nature at its most generous and most harsh, most terrible and most beautiful. An enchanted land where nature weaves its incredible magic, finally transforming into an abundant paradise, where life is at its most joyful.

Fungiphilia Rising

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Madison McClintock, 13 minutes, 2015

Fungiphilia Rising is an invitation to explore the fascinating world of mushrooms throughout the American West. In addition to revealing the multifaceted role mushrooms play in our culture, the film aims to bring awareness to the important ecological functions they perform in our world’s ecosystems and built environments.

Galapagos

Tilda Swinton, 50 minutes, 2014

Follow the filmmakers from the Smithsonian Institute on a visual journey through the lush Pacific Ocean paradise that is home to some of the most precious flora and fauna on the planet. Scattered across the equator, this largely unexplored series of volcanic islands is host to a stunning array of endangered species that remain virtually unknown outside of the archipelago.

The Greater Caucasus

Henry M. Mix, 48 minutes, 2014

The last mountain bison, Caucasian ibexes, craggy peaks and extreme weather fluctuations – an impressive nature documentary was filmed in the immediate hinterland of Sochi, venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Greater Sage-Grouse: Emblem of the American West

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Tatiana Gettelman, 7 minutes, 2015

The Greater Sage-Grouse is well known for its bizarre breeding displays, but it is also a species that has evoked controversy in the Great Basin region over how to best manage the population, which has been in steady decline over the past several decades. This short documentary tells the story of the Greater Sage-Grouse from the perspective of the USGS biologists who are studying this bird in the heart of its range in Northern Nevada.

Hallowed Isles

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James Reardon & Luke Padgett, 50 minutes, 2014

Small chains of weatherbeaten islands lie alone in the cold South Pacific. The Chatham Archipelago has been discovered by many kinds of explorers. Here, every creature is the descendant of some original pioneer who traversed the wide ocean. Humans and animals must all adapt in their own ways. But what does it take to become native? This film searches for the connection between creatures born for exploration and the ultimate journey to find home.

How to Change the World

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Jerry Rothwell, 122 minutes, 2014

In 1971, a group of friends sail into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world’s imagination. Using never before seen archive that brings their extraordinary world to life, How To Change The World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement.

Invasion of the Killer Whales

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Ben Wallis, 55 minutes, 2014

As the ice shrinks, the polar bear is struggling to survive in a fast melting world. Although a marine mammal, the polar bear is not adapted to hunting in the water. And they are certainly no match for the world’s greatest aquatic hunter – the killer whale. In the last few years scientists have started noting an ever-growing number of killer whales in Arctic waters in the summer months. More and more have been attracted to these huge hunting grounds by the growing expanses of open water. And they are attacking exactly the same prey animals as the polar bears.

It’s a Wild Life

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Kennan & Karen Ward, 88 minutes, 2015

This picturesque snapshot of the Northern California coast captures the beauty of Big Sur through its magnificent wildlife; Condors, Bobcats, marine life and the stories of a long-term caretaker of the land.

The Last Dragons: Protecting Appalachia’s Hellbenders

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Jeremy Monroe, 10 minutes, 2014

An intimate glimpse at North America’s largest salamander, the Eastern Hellbender, an ancient creature that lives as much in myth as in reality…. and in many waters, myths are all that remain of these stream-dwelling sentinels.

Leopard Ultimate Survivor

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Brad Bestelink & Steve Gooder, 60 minutes, 2014

A filmmaker’s chance encounter leads to a rare opportunity to follow a mother and her cubs through the first precarious years of life in the wilds of Botswana, where competition is tough and predators are fierce.

Leopards: 21st Century Cats

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Steve Gooder, 60 minutes, 2013

Against a backdrop of escalating and often deadly human-leopard conflict across India, conservationist Rom Whitaker sets out to uncover the fascinating truth behind the gory headlines.

Life Force II: Borneo

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Satoshi Okabe, 42 minutes, 2014

The tropical island of Borneo: a strange and mysterious place of mutant creatures and plants seen nowhere else on Earth. Pygmy forest mammals, weird co-evolved partnerships between plants and animals, the world’s rarest ape and incredible gliders, occupy these 130 million year old jungles.

Life Story: Ep01 – First Steps

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Tom Hugh-Jones, 60 minutes, 2014

An animal’s first steps are the foundation upon which their future success depends.

Life Story: Ep02 – Growing Up

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Tom Hugh-Jones, 60 minutes, 2014

On reaching adulthood animals strike out on their own to find their place in the world.

Love Thy Nature

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Sylvie Rokab, 76 minutes, 2015

Narrated by Liam Neeson, Love Thy Nature is a cinematic immersion into the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. And while our environmental crisis threatens the survival of our species, a renewed connection with nature holds the key to a highly advanced new era.

Madagascar: Beyond Africa

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ZDF, 43 minutes, 2013

The African island Madagascar doesn’t seem to be similar to its big brother, Africa. There are no elephants, giraffes or lions and also the people, plants and landscapes seem to be from another world. Dirk Steffens starts to search for reasons for this strangeness and discovers fascinating traces and common features from destinations that are from a world far away. Madagascar shows itself as a very mysterious country – beyond Africa. But some scientific studies provide clues as to how this island’s animal and human population evolved, leading to an intriguing variety of species today.

Manufactured Landscapes

|| Artists on Nature ||

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Jennifer Baichwal, 1h 30m, 2006

This documentary reveals the gritty underside of industrial landscapes. Photographer Edward Burtynsky explores the subtle beauty amid the waste generated by slag heaps, dumps and factories. Memorable scenes include a Chinese iron factory where employees are berated to produce faster, and shots of children playing atop piles of dangerous debris. The contrasts between wealth and poverty are most striking in Shanghai, with new high-rises towering above old slums.

Mapping the Blue

Alison Barrat, 29 minutes, 2014

In 2012 the Cook Islands announced the largest Marine Park on Earth. In stunning 4K imagery this film tells the story of how Kevin Iro, founder of the park, and his team use a high tech GIS system to designate multi-use areas inside the pristine park.

The Marvelous Musical Report

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Laura Sams, Robert Sams & Stephani Gordon, 10 minutes, 2014

Dive into the faraway blue waters of the Pacific Ocean to explore incredible, remote monuments. Filmed in stunning high definition, this hilarious, melodious film shows why these places are worth protecting for our future generations.

Merchants of Doubt 

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Robert Kenner, 96 minutes, 2014

A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.

 

Mine Detection Rats

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Axel Gomille, 30 minutes, 2014

In Mozambique, African Giant Pouch Rat are trained to detect land mines. They have extremely sensitive noses, that enable them to find explosives when buried underground. Thus, they can play a vital role on Mozambique’s way to freedom by getting rid of the huge number of land mines that still endanger people, even after the war has ended.

Monarchs and Milkweed

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Steven Bumgardner, 8 minutes

Take a microcosmic safari through a field of milkweed and discover a whole world of life, from bees to wasps to hummingbirds to butterflies. The charismatic Monarch butterfly is completely dependent on milkweed for its survival, and places like Yosemite National Park offer protection for this often overlooked plant.

Planetary

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Guy Reid, 2015

PLANETARY is a provocative and breathtaking wakeup call – a cross continental, cinematic journey, that explores our cosmic origins and our future as a species. It is a poetic and humbling reminder that now is the time to shift our perspective. PLANETARY asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us – to remember that we are PLANETARY.

Poached

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Timothy Wheeler, 91 minutes, 2015

Poached exposes an obsession that can wipe out a species of birds: illegal egg collecting.

Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper

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Steve Ellington, 20 minutes, 2014

This project is a short portrait documentary about the Pittsburgh-based urban beekeeper, Stephen Repasky

Potty Time

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Heather Collins, 5 minutes, 2014

One sloth’s epic journey to go to the bathroom.

Rara Avis: John James Audubon and the Birds of America

Al Reinert, 93 minutes, 2014

He was one of the most remarkable men in early America. A self-taught painter and ornithologist, he pursued a dream that made him famous in his lifetime and left a legacy in art and science that endures to this day. His portrait hangs in the White House and his statue stands over the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History. Yet the story of John James Audubon has never been told on movie screens.

The Realm of the Snow Leopard

Axel Gomille, 45 minutes, 2014

The snow leopard is highly endangered, but its habitat still exists, since men can barely cope with the harsh conditions of icy high mountain ranges. Thus, every effort is justified to save these cats. “The Realm of the Snow Leopard” shows how people of different cultural background, education and age join forces to save wild places and endangered species, and how much a few dedicated individuals can achieve.

Return of the River

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John Gussman & Jessica Plumb, 72 minutes, 2014 – FREE Screening at the UC Theater on campus

A documentary infused with hope, Return of the River explores an unlikely victory for environmental justice and restoration. The film follows a group of committed people as they attempt the impossible: to change the public opinion of a town and eventually the nation to bring two dams down. Ultimately the community comes to consensus; launching the largest dam removal in history and showing the way to a more sustainable future.

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time

|| Artists on Nature ||

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Thomas Riedelsheimer, 1h 32m, 2002

Andy Goldsworthy’s art is supposed to fall apart. He creates large-scale outdoor sculptures and artworks out of natural materials like mud, wood, ice and stone in an attempt to imbue the physical world with a spiritual, ephemeral element. Director Thomas Riedelsheimer follows Goldsworthy as he constructs his art everywhere from upstate New York to his home village in Scotland, and questions the solitary artist about his inspirations, frustrations and artistic goals.

The Russian River: All Rivers – The Value of an American Watershed

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William F. Sorenson, 123 minutes, 2014

The Russian River: All Rivers – The Value of An American Watershed, explores the diverse forces influencing the health of California’s legendary Russian River and its watershed.

Salmo Trutta Lacustris

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Daniel Göz, 12 minutes, 2014

Each fall the rare and highly endangered European lake trout (Salmo trutta lacustris) embarks on a strenuous journey upstream to mate in small Alpine streams. Guided by extraordinary senses in order to return to their place of birth the last of their kind follow a complex spawning ritual in this harsh mountain environment to reproduce successfully.

Sardine Run

Christine Mayall, 5 minutes, 2014

It’s been called the greatest “shoal” on earth. Every year, in South Africa, is the sardine run, one of the world’s largest marine migrations. Billions of sardines chasing cooler waters swim along the coast while predators are hot on their heels in anticipation. With sharks, dolphins and whales diving into the “buffet”, it’s a feeding frenzy, as swarms of sardines try to escape a deadly attack. In the water with them, photographer and tour guide, Rainer Schimpf tries to capture the spectacle while avoiding being mistaken for bait.

Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming

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WildAid, 42 minutes, 2014

Basketball star Yao Ming journeys to Africa to see for himself the brutal consequences of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade.

Saving My Tomorrow

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Amy Schatz, 5 minutes, 2014

In this family series produced and directed by Amy Schatz, kids share their thoughts on a range of environmental issues from endangered animals and pollution to climate change. Scenes with scientists from the American Museum of Natural History explore how plants and animals are affected by a changing earth. Through a lyrical mix of science, animation and music, Saving My Tomorrow urges children to take action, providing them with profiles of young activists who are trying to make a difference, while highlighting ways in which kids can do their part.

Shark Migration

Carol McGrath, 5 minutes, 2014

When you swim in the warm ocean waters down south you are probably sharing the water with some big predators…like sharks. But maybe you assume there aren’t that many or that they don’t come too close to shore. If that is the case then you’d be shocked to find out that actually every year thousands of black tipped sharks appear off the coast of Florida. It’s become the mission of shark expert Stephen Kajiura to find out why so many are swimming in these waters and what is attracting them to the area. In this story we fly out with Stephen over the thousands of sharks and take a boat out to capture some so he can get a better picture of what draws them to the area in such huge numbers.

Silencing the Thunder

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Eddie Roqueta, 27 minutes, 2014

When temperatures drop in Montana, wild bison migrate to lower elevations outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. But once outside, they run the risk of being killed because some carry a chronic disease called brucellosis that ranchers fear could spread to cattle. Silencing the Thunder presents the obstacles ranchers face, as well as the side of those trying to protect one of America’s most iconic animals.

A Sloth Named Velcro

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Ana E. Salceda, 55 minutes, 2014

In 2000, Ana Salceda, a young journalist, moved from her native Spain to explore the wilds of Panama where she became the caregiver for a tiny orphaned baby sloth named Velcro. For two years, the two became inseparable as Ana learned how to become a successful adoptive mother to Velcro, until finally the day came for Ana to reintroduce Velcro back to the wild. This is the story of Ana’s return to Central and South Americas to see how much has changed since Velcro came into her life. Sloths, once largely ignored, have become a hot topic of scientific researchers.

Snow Monkeys

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Joseph Pontecorvo, 55 minutes, 2015

In the frigid valleys of Japan’s Shiga Highlands, a troop of snow monkeys make their way and raise their families in a complex society of rank and privilege where each knows their place. Their leader is still new to the job and something of a solitary grouch. But one little monkey, innocently unaware of his own lowly social rank, reaches out to this lonely leader, forming a bond with him that manages over time to warm his less than sunny disposition. It is a rare and remarkable gesture that alters both their lives. Changing seasons bring new babies to care for, a profusion of insects and blossoms to eat, family disagreements to squabble over and tragedies to overcome. Mating season brings competition for females as the days grow shorter and colder in a rush toward winter. But with their now confident leader to guide them and their families to shelter and care for them, this troop of snow monkeys is ready to face the world.

Tigress Blood

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Akanksha Sood Singh & Praveen Singh, 42 minutes, 2014

Tigress Blood is a coming-of-age story as four sister tigers battle each other for dominance over their homeland. But they struggle to survive independently. Desperate and starving, they make a startling choice – join forces to hunt as a pack.

Tiny Giants

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Mark Brownlow, 44 minutes, 2014

Tiny Giants 3D is an innovative, dramatised, natural history film focusing on the extraordinary lives of some of our planet’s smallest animals. Illustrating biologically accurate behaviour, the film uses the latest technology and a ground-breaking approach to immerse the viewer in this unique, action-packed miniature world.

Ultimate Honey Badger

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Graeme Duane, 50 minutes, 2013

An orphaned Honey Badger’s journey to become the toughest hunter on the African Savannah.

Walking In Two Worlds

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Bo Boudart, 63 minutes, 2014

Worlds collide in the Tongass Forest, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act turns tribes into corporations and sparks a lengthy logging frenzy. A story of division and redemption plays out between a Tlingit brother and sister, showing the possibility of healing both the forest and the native community.

Walking Under Water

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Eliza Kubarska, 76 minutes, 2014

An underwater documentary about the last days of the Borneo sea nomads told through the touching voice of a young boy and tired fisherman and their unique bond with the ocean.

Walking with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet

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Richard Dale, Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale, 40 minutes, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet 3D is the most ambitious giant screen 3D film ever to feature photo-real dinosaurs set in real live action landscapes, immersing audiences in an amazing prehistoric age. It is an epic natural history film that shows the life and world of these amazing animals as though we have taken our cameras back 70 million years.

Wasteland

|| Artists on Nature ||

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Karen Harley, João Jardim, Lucy Walker, 1h 40m, 2010

Located just outside Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho, Brazil, is the world’s largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works with the so-called catadores, the men and women who pick through the refuse, to create art out of recycled materials. Muniz selects six of the garbage pickers to pose as subjects in a series of photographs mimicking famous paintings. In his desire to assist the catadores and change their lives, Muniz finds himself changed as well.

Wild Australia: Desert of the Red Kangaroo

Thoralf Grospitz & Jens Westphalen, 48 minutes, 2014

Their kingdom is the desert: in the heart of Australia lives the largest marsupial on earth, the red kangaroo – a true master of adaption in a world full of natural wonders and extremes.

Wild Hawaii: Land of Fire

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Kevin Bachar, 48 minutes, 2013

Wild Hawaii shows you the other side of Hawaii–the WILD side. From red hot lava to icy peaks and massive waves; we’ll take a look as the way sea turtles, cliff-climbing fish, hawks and others have adapted to thrive in this incredible, unique place.

Wildlife – Sophisticated Farmers: Leafcutter Ants

Ichiro Yamamoto, 49 minutes, 2013

The leafcutter ant, living in the tropical forests of Central America, has been part and parcel of this jungle terrain, cultivating the land and creating a labyrinth of underground farms for over 50 million years. These tiny creatures live in one of the most complex societies known in the animal kingdom, and they play a crucial role in the wellbeing of the forest.

The Wild Wet

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Joshua Mayo & Moritz Katz, 25 minutes, 2014

The planet’s most ancient rainforest is dark, damp and dangerous – a difficult place to survive! Come on a journey to the far north eastern corner of Australia where the descendants of dinosaurs still roam.

A Wolf’s Place

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Annie White, 17 minutes, 2014

Twenty years after their reintroduction, wild wolves have made a remarkable comeback in the Rocky Mountains. But as new hunting seasons take heavy tolls and politicians push to remove all protections across the US, gray wolves stand on the edge of a precipice. ‘A Wolf’s Place’ examines how wolves impact entire ecosystems in what scientists call a “trophic cascade.” It also explores the personal side of large carnivore conservation through the story of Wolf 10, the first wild wolf released into Yellowstone in over 70 years – his triumphant life and tragic death in the sights of a poacher’s gun.