On the slate: Explora and First Hand Films

Lions and love and lords, oh my. It's the new productions from Explora and First Hand Films.
September 25, 2008

It’s no secret that conservation is a hot topic in docs and audiences (or at least prodcos) don’t seem to be tiring just yet. Spanish producer Explora Films is going to the zoo for their stab at a conservation doc series. Following many conservationist foundations from Madagascar to Spain to Kenya to Switzerland, Explora and copro partner Fundación del Trópico will look at a global network of ecological obstacles that face Africa’s endangered species through The Heirs to the Ark, a 6 x 52-minute series. The docs in this series move between the dark and the hopeful with stories such as gorillas that are attacked by the Ebola virus to logging companies fighting the ‘bush meat trade,’ to ranchers that feed and repopulate the rhinoceros community. The first episode of the €1 million series entitled The Century of the Great Changes will debut in October.

Tombs and vaults are often exciting media events when they’re are discovered. While the latter can come with disappointing results, the former never ceases to impress and awe. The discovery of the tomb of Lord Sipan in Peru in 1987 was an event fraught with excitement; grave robbers, witches, FBI investigations and black market dealings all surround one of the most important discoveries in the 20th Century. Explora’s docudrama The Lord of Sipan is the result of a team up between director Jose Manuel Novoa and the archaeologist who found Sipan’s tomb, Walter Alva. Filmed in HDCAM and coproduced by El Deseo and RBA, The Lord of Sipan has been pre-sold to National Geographic in Latin America and Spanish TVE and will be delivered in both 52- and 85-minute versions.

In keeping with the theme of preservation, the secret to maintaining a long lasting marriage is the subject of a South African filmmaking couple’s doc 50 Years! Of Love?. Karin Slater and Steven Bartlo go from South Africa to India, the USA and Holland to talk to couples who have been married for over fifty years to see what it’s like being with one partner for that long and to see if they can find the key to making marriage work. 50 Years! Of Love?, a Durga Shakti Films Production, distributed by Zurich-based First Hand Films, examines the relationships different cultures, and different people, have with marriage, juxtaposing the relationships of their elderly subjects with their own. The doc is available in 52- and 86-minute versions.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.