If you are looking for more cat content while self-isolating at home, make sure to schedule time on Friday April 17 to learn about one of Europe’s most elusive and endangered wild felines, all from the comfort of your own couch.
The Return of the Wildcat will be free to watch for 24hrs on Vimeo and all you need is a good internet connection. The film is in German, but English subtitles are available by clicking the CC button on the bottom right hand corner of the Vimeo player. Good news, the film can be watched world wide and will air at 7 pm (CEST) which is 1 pm (EST) or 10 am (PST).
“In this 40-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.”
Director and film maker David Cebulla took some time to answer a few questions about his work and the documentary which will be his first ever ‘sofa’ premiere.
Please tell me about your background and how you got into film making
I used to be a musician and got into film making after releasing my first album when I, among other things, produced a video clip for one of the songs. This was in 2014. Since then I have had different jobs on a variety of film projects. I started as a set runner on productions for German television, worked as set manager, production manager and first assistant director. For about two years I did artist and social media management for Andreas Kieling who is one of the most famous and most popular nature film makers in Germany. I also did my own films and ordered projects, but the most important step was my debut film “Hidden Beauty – The Orchids of the Saale Valley”.
Why do you primarily focus on nature and science content?
My passion for nature goes back to childhood so it was always an important part of my life. Often this was in the form of orienteering or climbing, but to me the experience of nature has always been as equally as important as seeking knowledge. I decided to study biology at university and specialized in ecology during my master’s degree. In addition to film making I am also a scientist, as I love to work in nature and to capture its beauty. I remember a moment when I was working on “Hidden Beauty” filming a time laps of the Milky Way and it was just me at night in nature. I had to clap my hands occasionally to keep the wild boars away and I thought – “This is exactly what I want to do!” I am glad that I found this way to combine scientific research and nature film making.
What first got you interested in making a documentary on the European wildcat?
I had the opportunity to combine my passion for science and film making when I did a study on wildlife as part of my master’s degree. I started monitoring with a single and very simple trail camera. By chance I made the first record of a European wildcat for my area of investigation.
Why is it important for you to make this film now?
It is common knowledge that we are living in a time of huge environmental problems. We have to face the impact we are having on the planet – environmental pollution, human-made climate change, the isolation of habitats because of road networks and agriculture. What better way is there to create awareness than to show the very things that are endangered and worth protecting? This film is a visual appeal for the conservation of nature and species. It was my special interest to show great and stunning captures of nature. We need to act. And we need to do it now.
Did you work with any specific organizations or individuals?
This film is based on monitoring I conducted myself. I interviewed experts that I worked with and they are also part of the film. I interviewed Silvester Tamás, from the NGO NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), who managed a wildcat monitoring project in my area in previous years. I also collaborated with Matthias Krüger, head taxidermist at the Jena Phyletic Museum, who has great knowledge on the dead ‘found’ wildcats the Museum received in the past decades.
What did you learn about the European wildcat while making the documentary?
Probably, how fascinating it is that they managed to survive. Although they used to be hunted, and were almost exterminated, we still have free living European wildcats today.
What do you hope your film will help accomplish for these cats?
This is a question with many answers. First, I hope to inform people about the European wildcat by contributing to environmental education on the topic. Hopefully viewers will consider what impact their own decisions may have on the wildcat – do I put my dog on a leash when walking it in a forest? Do I obey other rules when I am visiting a nature conservation area? Importantly the film will draw attention to the wildcat and show what problems they are facing and that they cannot be solved by any one individual. On another level the wildcat is a fascinating animal and, when we protect the wildcat we are protecting its potential habitats therefore also protecting the flora and fauna in those habitats as a whole.
What are your plans for the film after the premiere?
The premiere will start at 7 pm (CEST) which is 1 pm (EST) or 10 am (PST). It will only be available for 24 hours to watch for free either on our website or directly on Vimeo. Afterwards it will be on Vimeo On Demand for rent and purchase. Later this year we will also add it to Amazon Prime in Germany, the USA, the UK and Japan.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am looking forward to the premiere and appreciate anyone who is interested in watching and recommending the film!
For more updates on David’s work be sure to follow him on Instagram