OFFICIAL AWARDS of the 20th MATSALU NATURE FILM FESTIVAL

Tartu Nature House Special Prize

Superbirds - The Secret Life Of Tits

Director Yann Sochaczewski, Marlen Hundertmark


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2022

Special Mention (Nature)

Raccoons, survival Warriors

Director Emma Baus

We thought that this film was charming from the off. The “masked bandit” is a far more interesting and complex animal than might first be thought. With her intimate portrait of a raccoon family Emma Baus impressively manages to convey the world of this survivalist to a broad audience. The film puts you firmly on the side of the featured racoons, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of life, and other species, and could well do much for the pest-like reputation of these adorable-looking mammals, egg-farmers aside! Well, in North America anyway, where they are not an invasive species!
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2022

Best Editing (Nature)

The Elephant & the Termite

Director Mark Deeble, Victoria Stone

This film is an hugely impressive one. It is beautifully shot, of course, with so many brilliant wildlife moments, like the “pinball dung beetle” and an exquisite moment when a chameleon drinks a dew drop, all expertly captured but what we found was the most standout thing about the film was how these wonderfully diverse wildlife sequences were perfectly knitted together as the bigger story of elephant and termite unfolded. The great cinematography and myriad of stories covered here wouldn’t’ve been nearly as well realised, as emotional, or funny even had the editor not had an in-depth knowledge of all the species, their stories and how they are so intimately connected to the bigger picture/place ... Essentially, the film feels natural, well-paced, immersive, the stories expertly and wonderfully cut together, creating a web of life that seems whole. Feels right.
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2022

Best Cinematography (Nature)

Bee Wild!

Director Jan Haft

There were many films that had great cinematography in the competition this year and so this was a difficult call. Bee Wild pipped the others to the post however, due to its great variety of shots, including wide, expansive shots, intimate nest cameras, all the way down to perfect, immersive macro. And other techniques. ... use of tracking, slow-mo, timelapse, aerials, thermal etc all working harmoniously together. All telling the story of where wild honey bees once were, and that maybe they will come back. If their challenges can be overcome.
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2022

Special Jury Prize (Nature)

The Door was Open

Director Olivier Marin

This film was immediately recognised as a standout film. It was a very interesting look at how wildlife can embrace man-made landscapes as their home, but they are not safe even there. So it is like a double loss, first being pushed out of their natural habitat to make room for an artificial landscape, and then when humans desert it, the wildlife comes back and adjusts to the change, but then humans interfere again, tearing it all down, so the cycle has to start over. We loved the mix of animation, showing the ghostly past, mixed with minimal but powerful snippets of narration, but the story largely carried forward by the images, telling their own story, helped in no small amount by subtle, appropriate music and natural sounds. We all strongly felt that this film deserved to be recognised as a wonderful, well done and refreshingly unique film.
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2022

Best Director (Nature)

Waves Beneath The Water

Director Arthur de Bruin

A wonderful mix of wildlife stories expertly woven into the journey of a single eel, on her age-old journey from sea to freshwater domain and back, through man-made obstacles, one after another. The director clearly had passion and vision for this film. His expert understandings in the stories told in this film are evident throughout. The cinematography would’ve been hard to capture in these underwater river habitats but the story flow is clean and told with fantastically clear underwater sequences, including a perfectly realised moment when the young eel bumps into a concrete wall. Along with the story of the struggles faced by the eel, there are strong, albeit very subtle, environmental messages expertly woven throughout the film. From people using water as a playground against a struggle for survival beneath the waves, to an image of fishing dropped in, a dog upsetting coots during playtime. Subtle but stark references. Those along with mentions of invasives. All tied together by excellent narration, which was funny in places, and a well put together soundtrack. Unobtrusive music, woven in with appropriate natural sounds, carrying the film along at the right pace. All in all a stunning film, from start to finish, born out of passion, and it showed!
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2022

Estonian Fund for Nature Special Prize

Duty of Care - The Climate Trials

Director Nic Balthazar


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2022

Matsalu National Park Special Prize

Kingdom of Fish Ep 1 - The River

Director Björn Tjärnberg


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2022

Matsalu National Park Special Prize

Kingdom of Fish Ep 2 - The Lake

Director Björn Tjärnberg


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2022

Matsalu National Park Special Prize

Kingdom of Fish Ep 3 - The Sea

Director Björn Tjärnberg


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2022

NGO Mondo Special Prize

Shepherds of the Earth

Director Iiris Härmä


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2022

Best Cinematography (Man and Nature)

The Great Swamp

Director Remek Meel

Great film that conveys the idea that we all belong to nature. The intimate and sensitive story also determined its visual style - no tricks or effects - that facilitated the core idea to shine through. Primeval nature and human nature in all their full beauty and toughness are effectively conveyed to the viewer.
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2022

2022

Estonian Ministry of Environment Special Prize

The Great Swamp

Director Remek Meel


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2022

2022

Special Mention (Man and Nature)

About the Forest

Director Peter Magnusson

This is a film on a topic that is also very current here in Estonia, where the situation is the same as the one featured in the film "About the Forest". The faults of global industrial forestry and timber processing manifest themselves in a similar manner throughout the world. Suffering is left to the locals - forest ecosystems, animals that depend on them, humans included, not to mention seemingly less charismatic species such as mushrooms in the soil.
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2022

Best Editing (Man and Nature)

Life of a Mutt

Director Tanja Brzaković

An emotional film that challenges the definition of nature and human-animal co-dependence. Combining candid documentary material with playful hand-drawn animation and voiceover, the film crosses between genres, resulting in a kaleidoscopic story that is neatly pieced together. The film gives stray dogs a voice that so closely resonates with our deepest existential questions. Lost between urban and rural abandoned spaces, where they are close to humans, but far enough not to annoy them, the dogs in this film act out a dignifying fight for survival and belonging.
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2022

Best Director (Man and Nature)

Houbara

Director Fathollah Amiri, Nima Asgari

It is not a beautiful film featuring charming wildlife stories - but it is one that inevitably needed to be made. It is not the easiest thing to make an investigative film in Iran anyway. The more important is the fact that such a film is made and that it has made it here to our audiences. The film does not provide us with conclusions, but leaves us with a heap of difficult, unanswered questions. What will happen to the houbaras that were confiscated from the smugglers? Will they manage to survive? What about the arrested poachers and their families? How could we possibly get the information about the range of devastation through to the rich people who buy these delicate birds in order to have them torn into pieces by (also imprisoned) falcons? When we buy petrol for our cars here, are we possibly also part of this miserable network of exploitation?
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2022

2022

Grand Prix

Houbara

Director Fathollah Amiri, Nima Asgari

Iranian men in uniforms, chasing poor bedouin poachers with guns. Trapped birds sold to rich people in neighbouring countries. Women being kept out of sight and mentioned only once - as the presumed head of the criminal network. Houbara is an incredibly thought-provoking film. We were on the edge of our seats rooting for environmental workers to be able to put a stop to the awful persecution of this beautiful species. Making a detective-action nature film is a difficult task. Houbara definitely achieved it. The film is quite a journey, exciting and full of jeopardy, and involves passionate people. There’s human suffering on both sides, as the poachers feel the need to trap the birds due to poverty, and the wildlife protection unit despair at the treatment of the birds, and their endangerment. Wealthier Middle-Eastern countries are taking advantage of their poorer neighbors by exploiting their natural resources pretty much like the rest of us are doing with our planet’s resources and using them to our amusement without any regard to the consequences. This is a message that needs to be amplified, and that is what we hope this award will do.
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2022

2022

Special Jury Prize (Man and Nature)

Neighbourhood of Infinity

Director Mark Aitken

The best corona-time film. Featuring bird and human behavior. A meditative film that directs the attention of the viewer to minute details of our daily lives that can save one from isolation-induced insanity. Watching wildlife is like watching ourselves.
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2022

 

OFFICIAL AWARDS of the 19th MATSALU NATURE FILM FESTIVAL

Tartu Nature House Special Mention

Nature´s Nurseries

Director Jan Haft

An educational, clear and beautiful film about the continuity in the animal kingdom, the different ways of parental care and the balance that emerges from the points of contact between different species. Great stories of playing, learning and training of different species are very expressive. The film probably helps young viewers to appreciate the care of their parents and supports the knowledge that continuous learning to cope with life is not only important for humans, but is also very common in the animal kingdom.
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2021

Best Cinematography (Nature)

My Dragon River

Director Dagmar Hilfert-Rüppell, Georg Rüppell

"My Dragon River" stands out for the simplicity and for the fact that even with the more basic equipment it is possible to capture beautiful images – underwater shots with GoPro etc. Yet, the footage itself was well captured and refined the story. Also we enjoyed the beautiful close-up sequences of dragonflies in flight.
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2021

2021

Special Jury Prize (Nature)

My Dragon River

Director Dagmar Hilfert-Rüppell, Georg Rüppell

It is a beautiful documentary and has captured the life of dragonflies very well through beautiful slow motion sequences. It gives a very good educational aspect and everyone can learn more about dragonflies. Nevertheless, there are many funny moments that will make the audience laugh.
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2021

2021

Best Director (Nature)

Wild Horses - A Tale from the Puszta

Director Zoltan Török

The story of endangered species of wild horses is the best told and wholesome, it focuses on one foal's life and her family. From the movie you can find funny as well tragic moments, which both engage the audience. Likewise the film shares moments from other wildlife, who live together on this landscape, giving an additional educational value.
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2021

2021

Audience Award

Wild Horses - A Tale from the Puszta

Director Zoltan Török


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2021

2021

Best Editing (Nature)

Leopard Legacy

Director Will Steenkamp, Lianne Steenkamp

"Leopard Legacy’s" edit was on point - sound design and music well balanced. Throughout the film there were many gems hidden inside the edit. For example the close-up sequence of the leopard's paw when walking and the next shot was the crane's leg. Also the seamless transition between two shots of the river raised the value of the edit.
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2021

2021

Special Mention (Nature)

Leopard Legacy

Director Will Steenkamp, Lianne Steenkamp

In addition to superb storytelling and editing we point out masterful cinematography, especially moving shots of wildlife filmed with a zoom lens on a gimbal.
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2021

2021

Tallinn Zoo Special Prize

Pumas - Legends of the Ice Mountains EP 1: Birth

Director Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert

We would like to express our sincerest thanks to Dereck and Beverly Joubert for their stunning nature film "Pumas - Legends of the Ice Mountains". The film gave us a chance to journey into the secretive wilderness of Patagonia and follow the life of a puma family. A deeply moving, fascinating and enlightening experience in the mountains where not many will venture to.
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2021

Tallinn Zoo Special Prize

Pumas - Legends of the Ice Mountains EP 2: Rebirth

Director Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert

We would like to express our sincerest thanks to Dereck and Beverly Joubert for their stunning nature film "Pumas - Legends of the Ice Mountains". The film gave us a chance to journey into the secretive wilderness of Patagonia and follow the life of a puma family. A deeply moving, fascinating and enlightening experience in the mountains where not many will venture to.
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2021

NGO Mondo Special Prize

TripleF***

Director Simona Theoharova

The film has a truly global reach - climate activists and environmental problems are filmed on six continents and the film itself is made in collaboration of more than 30 film makers each in their locations to avoid flying of a single crew. If we could only keep that spirit of cooperation when we fight climate change! From Mondo's perspective, we also value that the film has given voice to both indigineus people as well as representatives of different generations. This is only the first episode of a five part series, we are excited to see how the story develops!
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2021

Best Cinematography (Man and Nature)

Overland

Director Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere La Noue

This film walks simultaneously on the borders of many different spheres of being: historical and modern, sky and earth, animals and people, our deep inner needs and instincts versus invasion from the outside. The camera work supports the story with sensitivity and great empathy, depicting the relationship between man and bird in a very complex way, as well as the environment and the mental and physical world in which the action takes place.
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2021

Matsalu National Park Special Prize

A young Crane´s long Journey

Director Jouni Hiltunen

The film has very good nature educational content, it gives good overview of life of cranes. It fits well with Matsalu birds paradise and has direct views from Matsalu National Park.
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2021

Grand Prix

Earth: Muted

Director Mikael Kristersson, Åsa Ekman, Oscar Hedin

A great film tells more than any jury summary can tell in a few sentences. The Grand Prix of Matsalu FF 2021 goes to a very special film that grabs its viewer from the first shot, where we see treetops heavy with cherry blossoms. They are not surrounded by bees though, but instead being pollinated by an old Chinese couple with sticks. People doing the work of bees, is a stunning metaphor to the absurdity of being human - possessing the ability to dominate other species, in a system where domination itself inevitably means perdition. A beautiful and delicate reminder that one can not have their cake and eat it too, but that as a humankind, we’ll all stand eye to eye with our choices sooner rather than later.
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2021

2021

Best Director (Man and Nature)

Earth: Muted

Director Mikael Kristersson, Åsa Ekman, Oscar Hedin

A deeply multilayered film that conveys a universal message. In a delicate manner, without opposition, but through connection, the authors depict a painfully familiar conflict - the difficulty to choose between your dear ones’ immediate needs and the bigger picture, the well-being of the planet and mankind itself. Through three characters the filmmakers unroll a profoundly felt story that should provide food for thought for every viewer.
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2021

2021

Special Jury Prize (Man and Nature)

Animals

Director Jonas Spriestersbach

The film has a good sense of humor and irony. The story is well-developed, many-layered and metaphoric. Characters are amusing and at the same time, though at a different angle, you feel the deep melancholy of their life.
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2021

2021

Best Editing (Man and Nature)

Animals

Director Jonas Spriestersbach

A story told with elegance, style and precision that keeps the viewer in its grip from the first shot to the last. The result is a truly unexpected film carried by a deep sense of irony. Humorous and tragic at once, it turns the mirror on humans’ alienation from other species and quite possibly themselves.
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2021

2021

Special Mention (Man and Nature)

The Shamans´ Nightmare

Director Natalie Halla

The jury would like to turn your attention to the very strong and thorough anthropological work of this film. The director takes us to unique indigenous peoples in different parts of the world, and introduces their lifestyle and their fight for survival as well. Through her lens, she preserves what is close to being lost. The film brings out very clearly the close connection which people have with their environment and the delicate balance between them: if the natural living environment of a group of people perishes, the people connected to it are also doomed.
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2021

 

OFFICIAL AWARDS of the 18th MATSALU NATURE FILM FESTIVAL

Grand Prix

Okavango: River of Dreams

Director Dereck & Beverly Joubert

A film that employs a mesmerising pictorial language and executed with technical skill, containing memorable episodes and moments that stay with the viewer for a long time.
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2020

2020

Best Editing (Nature)

Okavango: River of Dreams

Director Dereck & Beverly Joubert

The scenes are masterfully edited and form a story-telling whole.
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2020

2020

 

Congratulations to the winners!

Thank you to everyone with a film at the festival!

 

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