Wildscreen 2016: And the Award goes to…

October 2016: Vienna-based Terra Mater Factual Studios were awarded the Golden Panda Award alongside four other Pandas at yesterday’s spectacular ceremony concluding Wildscreen Festival 2016.
The Golden Panda is the most prestigious award the industry has to offer in the realm of nature and science documentaries.

On the evening of October 13th, 2016, Bristol, UK set the scene for a magnificent ceremony.
The highly coveted Golden Panda Award – also called the Green Oscar – was awarded to the TMFS-production ‘The Ivory Game’. This undercover feature-documentary is set to expose the dark world of global ivory trafficking. Alongside the Golden Panda, the production was furthermore honoured with the Theatrical Award.
The documentary ‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth’ won both the categories Technical Innovation and Science.
‘Wild Weather with Richard Hammond’ excelled in the category Script.

With five awards in total, Terra Mater Factual Studios received a quarter of all available awards at the Wildscreen 2016 festival.

20161013 - Wildscreen Day 4 and Awards - Photographer Jon Craig
TMFS representatives, among them CEO Walter Köhler and Head of TV Sabine Holzer, with Sir David Attenborough and delighted production partners.


“It’s an incredible moment for our company”, says CEO of TMFS, Walter Köhler. “It’s the reward for all the passion, the creativity, and the hard work which went into these productions. Such a success would simply not have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone who was involved.”

Golden Panda Award and Theatrical Award for ‘The Ivory Game’
It is estimated that each year about 30,000 African elephants are killed for their ivory. In ‘The Ivory Game’, the dark world of global ivory trafficking is exposed. In this spectacular feature-documentary, undercover operatives risked their lives by using hidden cameras to expose poachers, traffickers and corrupt government officials. This film takes us from one of the masterminds behind ivory trafficking in Africa to Chinese traders, who deal with tons of smuggled ivory, to a village of ivory carvers in Vietnam, who create exquisite figurines and jewellery made out of this ‘White Gold’.

“The Ivory Game’ is a statement – and a matter very close to my heart”, says CEO of TMFS and producer of the film, Walter Köhler. “We cannot simply stand by and watch how these charismatic animals are being slaughtered and their species wiped out. With this film we want to contribute to the international endeavours of stopping global ivory trafficking. The African elephants need to be saved – if we let things continue like they do, we will soon reach the point where no more elephants exist. And this simply is an unspeakable thought – we have to act now!”

‘The Ivory Game’ was chosen among 43 other contenders from 11 countries to receive the Golden Panda, the “best of the festival” trophy.

This gripping feature-documentary of Terra Mater Factual Studios has been directed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson. It was produced with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, Malaika Pictures, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Netflix.

Netflix has obtained worldwide distribution rights to the project and is set to launch the film globally to their 81 million subscribers on November 4th, 2016.

‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth’ honoured with two Pandas        
‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth’ received two Wildscreen awards at yesterday’s ceremony in Bristol: the categories Science as well as Technical Innovation were dominated by this documentary about the natural phenomenon that is bioluminescence.

In this documentary, Sir David Attenborough presents living beings which produce their own light – living lights. Glow-worms, mushrooms, microorganisms of different sorts and creatures of the deep dark sea are amongst those who produce a shimmering glow, completely on their own. This documentary shines a light on the how and why of these processes.

Extremely light-sensitive cameras captured never-before-seen behaviour. Scientists around the globe were absolutely delighted by these images, and cameraman Martin Dohrn found himself in the centre of attention by highly excited scientists.
Not only Dohrn’s specially developed camera technology, but also his unique way of processing the images resulted in another award in the category Technical Innovation.

‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth’ was produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios and Ammonite Films, in co-production with the American SVOD service CuriosityStream, and in association with BBC, UKTV and ABC Australia.

“Work on this project with the BBC was a great success”, says Walter Köhler. “When the documentary was broadcast in the UK, their ratings were off the charts and it received fantastic reviews, alongside great online feedback of a thrilled audience.”

Script Award for Terra Mater Factual Studios
The elaborate three-part science documentary ‘Wild Weather with Richard Hammond’ was honoured with the Script Award.

This production takes a closer look at a phenomenon surrounding us all at any given moment – weather. Ex-Top Gear star Richard Hammond follows the most diverse and spectacular weather phenomena around the world, taking part in experiments set up by scientists and experts, himself experiencing these forces of nature.

This science mini-series was produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios in co-production with Oxford Scientific Films and the Open University in association with BBC, Hamster’s Wheel and PAAN.


The Wildscreen Panda Awards are considered the “Oscars” in the world of Natural History docs. At this biannual event, the competition is strong: hundreds of productions from around the globe were entered into the festival’s 20 categories, and all of them were screened by preliminary judges before the ceremony concluding the festival in October 2016 in Bristol.