In this 41-minutes-documentary the ecologist and filmmaker David Cebulla is on a quest to find one of Germany‘s shyest and most endangered species: the European wildcat. During a scientific pre-study, by chance, he made the first record of a wildcat in an area near his hometown Jena. Thereupon he dedicates a whole year to get the genetic evidence and a really splendid film recording of a free-living wildcat. For this reason he sets up trail cameras and lure sticks. David has to face many ups and downs during his project. At first, all wildlife but the wildcat seems to react to the lure sticks. Can the ecologist get the genetic record of a wildcat? Will David’s wildcat return?
(For English subtitles click the cc button in the player)Genres: web documentary/ reportage
Runtime: 41 minutes
Subtitles: English, German
Country: GermanyDirector & Filmmaker: David Cebulla
Music by: All Good Folks, Ed Carlson, Simon Folwar, Adi Goldstein, Matthias Harris, Brock Hewitt: Stories in Sound, Hemlock, Justin Lapoint, The Lakes, Dan Phillipson, Leon Riskin
“This film is a visual appeal for the conservation of nature and species right outside our front door. It was my special interest to show great and stunning captures of nature. At the same time I evolved as a filmmaker. I am proud that I could film freeliving wildcats without resorting to game enclosures, and to film these extremely shy animals.” (David Cebulla)
David Cebulla (*1991) studied biology and ecology and recieved multiple awards as a fimmaker.
Including the pre-project – a total of 29 wildcat activities were recorded between October 2018 and mid-March 2020. Of these, six were at a first site and 23 at another site in the broader area around Jena. At least four individuals were active, two at each site: three females could be confirmed genetically by hair samples. Phenotypically, one additional male can be assumed.
In conclusion, it can be said that we we able to detect individual wildcats that inhabit the area around Jena. And this has been the case for several years. Silvester Tamás from NABU Saale-Holzland-Kreis e.V. has already repeatedly detected wildcats in this area between 2014 and 2017. Of course, it remains exciting whether future monitoring will also show reproduction again.
About the Project
“The Return of Wildcat” started as a scientific field study about the usage of camera traps in ecological studies. It evolved into a wildcat monitoring on which the film is based. This web documentary has a cinematic style. The gimbal, drone and slider – as well as static – footage has a warm colour grading. This is complemented by high quality fimmusic and sound design. The film was shot between April and September of 2019 in a total of 29 shooting days and another month in post production. In total the production budget amounted to a medium five-figure sum.
We thank our sponsors, who made the realisation of “The Return of the Wildcat” possible: the Thuringian State Chancellery and the Thuringian Ministery for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation. We also owe thanks to the nature conservation authority of Jena, which financially supported the scientific research in this project. ivals.
Festivals and Awards
The online premiere took place on April 17th 2020 at 7pm (CEST) and reached more than 1.300 screens in the first 24 hours. Since then “The Return of the Wildcat” has been screened on several film festivals and won several awards:
- Open Vision Film Festival – finalist – Second Session 2021
- Virgin Spring Cinefest 2020 – Official Selection
- Virgin Spring Cinefest 2020 – The International Film Festival – FILM ON NATURE / ENVIRONMENT / WILDLIFE – Winner (Gold)
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020 – Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Official Selection
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020 – Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Official Selection: Cinematography (sub-category)
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020 – Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Official Selection: Editing (sub-category)
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020 – Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Official Selection: Viewer Impact: Content/Message Delivery (sub-category)
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020 – Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Outstanding Excellence: Cinematography
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020– Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Outstanding Excellence: Editing
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020– Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Outstanding Excellence: Viewer Impact
- Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020– Wildlife/Nature/Animals – Outstanding Excellence: Motivational/Inspirational
- Nature Without Borders International Film Festival 2020 – Official Selection
- Nature Without Borders International Film Festival 2020 –Wildlife/Nature Documentaries – Excellence
- S.O.F.A (Shout Out For Animals) Film Festival 2020 – Official Selection