Project adds to its slate of event docs
Terra Mater is continuing its run of documentary event films with “Brazil — A Carnival of Life,” which promises to take auds on a journey from the Amazon jungle to the country’s vast stretches of coastline and barren deserts to some of the longest waterfalls in the world.It’s one of two films Terra Mater will unveil at the European Film Market. Sophokles Tasioulis, head of cinema and international theatrical sales at the Vienna-based company, describes the project as a “super blue-chip event natural history documentary” in the vein of BBC Worldwide’s “Earth” and “Deep Blue” (on which Tasioulis served as producer). Established last year as a division of Red Bull Media House, Terra Mater specializes in doc production and distribution for TV, theatrical and multimedia platforms. Currently in production, “Brazil” is scheduled to be delivered in 2015 as a 90-minute film and a six-part TV series. Also making its market debut is Otmar Penker and Gerald Salmina’s “Cry of the Eagle,” about an Alpine shepherd who finds redemption when he rescues a baby eagle. Like Terra Mater’s hit Spanish film “Among Wolves,” by Gerardo Olivares, which became the new company’s first title last year, “Cry of the Eagle” combines wildlife footage with a fictional narrative. “Wolves,” a fact-based tale about a boy raised by wolves in the Sierra Morena Mountains of southern Spain, was a solid box office hit domestically and recently sold to Polyband in Germany, where it is due to hit screens in June. It has also sold to Jupiter Films in France, Suntower Communications for Scandinavia and Feelgood in Greece. Pointing to the inherent difficulties most European films face outside their countries of origin, such as language barriers and the lack of well-known stars, Tasioulis says nature docs have a major advantage: “A wolf is a wolf in Japan as well as in China or in America. It doesn’t speak a language, it doesn’t carry a passport — that makes these sorts of films easier. If you can find the right recipe, combine it with a dramatic story, then it works.” Another Terra Mater pic on its slate is the $15 million-plus “Lighthouse of the Orcas,” in which wild killer whales help an autistic child come out of his shell in South America. Olivares helms. As with “Wolves,” crews will spend up to a year in the wild shooting footage of eagles in the Alps for “Cry of the Eagle” and orcas in Patagonia for “Lighthouse of the Orcas.” Also in the works is “Mind Over Matter,” a portrait of the athletes taking part in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, including a match-up between star sprinters Oscar Pistorius and Jerome Singleton — the fastest blade runners on the planet. Terra Mater boasts the former production team of Universum, the acclaimed nature-wildlife film unit of Austrian pubcaster ORF, including CEO Walter Koehler.