The transformation of the Wildscreen site for the 2000 event was remarkable. At a price tag of almost £90 million, a significant part of downtown Bristol appears to have fallen to the wrecking ball. The festival – which happily did not have to subsidize the remodeling – took advantage of these changes, offering attendees access to a new Imax theatre, an expanded trade show, the ARKive, and a host of new shops, restaurants and distractions to lure visitors to the bi-annual wildlife event. And turn out they did, with over 900 attending, and 43 firms peddling their wares on the floor of the Bristol Industrial Museum.
Amsterdam’s Off the Fence took full advantage of the new setting by taking three Panda Awards for its film The Great Dance: A Hunter’s Story (Delegate’s Choice, Production Crafts Award: Script, and the WWF Golden Panda Award). OTF was fresh from MIPCOM, where they shared a stand (and boat) with new Munich-based parent company, RTV Family Entertainment. While awards are newsworthy enough, bigger things are pending: The partners suggest they are looking to expand RTV’s factual content by acquiring catalogs over the next six months, and are looking to partner with suitable producers. RTV may also be looking to acquire more production entities that fit its factual mandate.
While OTF was the big story, the Pandas attracted more than 400 entries this year, with awards going to several notables: Norway’s Helge Haukeland took the BBC Newcomer Award; Mona Lisa Productions of Paris was awarded the Dieter Plage Award for Innovation for its work on the film Cannibal Mites; the Best Series Award went to the BBC NHU’s Life of Birds; the new Large Format Award went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for its Alaska: Spirit of the Wild; and the U.K.’s Tigress Productions took the Conservation/Environmental prize for Operation Lemur with John Cleese. The latter may have also had the most remarkable descriptive ever uttered in a wildlife film, with the observation that lemurs move like: ‘Edwardian waiters on Benzedrine.’ It’s writing like that that wins awards.
The Outstanding Achievement Award for a globally significant contribution to wildlife films went to Hugo van Lawick for a career that spans almost 40 years. Van Lawick is only the 11th filmmaker to receive the honor.