The Incantation of the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival

The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival has reached it’s 17th edition, offering motivated filmmakers a platform to present their work, that glorifies nature. The event unrolled from October 9th until the 12th, in collaboration with the Tiroler Umweltanwaltschaft [Environmental Ombudsman Office Tirol].


The mastermind behind this inspirational initiative is the Artistic Director Johannes Kostenzer, who had first launched the event as the Innsbruck Nature Film Days in 2001, to allow audiences to see on the big screen stories about the environment. His degree in biology and work as an expert of Natural History for the State of Tyrol, made him the perfect leader of a project that over the course of the years would transform into an international festival competition at Leokino Cinema.

This year, thanks to the collaboration with Thilo Bohatsch — CEO, founder and shareholder of Bohatsch Marketing and President of Evolution4 — the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival took to the streets. Two new sections were introduced: the Market, allowing people to buy local products by the vendors in the Old Town, and Senses, a series of workshops, lectures and demonstrations that granted the opportunity to learn about nature’s preservation.

It takes a village to raise any event, and the great success of  the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival would not have been possible without the relentlessly hardworking team: Liesa Jirka, Christoph Fintl, Bettina Lutz and the volunteers.

The Jury

Captained by the INFF Artistic Director Johannes Kostenzer the jury was composed by:

Nika Šaravanja (a Croatian documentary filmmaker, artist and winner of the Best Nature Documentary for INFF 2017, with her film Dusk Chorus), Lukas Ladner (a filmmaker from Innsbruck, who utilizes an interdisciplinary approach), Rita Schlamberger (an internationally acclaimed natural history film director and producer from Austria and co-founder of ScienceVision), Michael Schlamberger (an Austrian Cinematographer, Producer and Director of natural history films and co-founder of ScienceVision), Katja Trippel (a print and TV-editor at the magazine GEO, also in charge of “360 ° GEO-report” on Arte), Chiara Isabella Spagnoli Gabardi (a film critic, culture and sustainability reporter, visual artist and Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts).

The Special Jury, that awarded the Best Film on the Topic of Soil, included: Andreas Baumgarten (Head of the Advisory Board for Soil Fertility and Soil Protection in the Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, President of the Austrian Soil Science Society and a board member of the International Union of soil Sciences), Heribert Insam (Full Professor of Microbiology and Head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Innsbruck), Thomas Peham (a soil expert for the State of Tyrol and consultant for AustroPOPs, Links4Soils and EUSALP).

My Personal Experience

I had traveled around Austria before, but this was my first time in the dainty Innsbruck and I was conquered by the beauty of a town that perfectly coalesces the vibes of a culturally vibrant metropolis (cinemas, theaters, shops, pastries, museums), the natural world, and a friendly population.

I was welcomed with great warmth and support by the festival that gave me the chance to be a juror, exhibit my artwork, co-host the Award Ceremony and give a Talk  about Female Empowerment For A More Sustainable Future. During my Speech I had the opportunity to discuss the concept of Mother Earth in the Neolithic Age, as well as the role of women and the environment in rural communities and cities, along with the collaboration between the two sexes and the mission of eco-artists.

The Winners

The Opening Night, at Leokino, and The Award Ceremony, at the elegant venue in Maria-Theresien-Straße, were hosted by Verena Örley — who has thoroughly worked in the field of documentaries and advertising, before becoming a mother of three and setting up her own business.

The following filmmakers were bestowed with their prizes by the Artistic Director of the INFF, Johannes Kostenzer, at the presence of the Vice Mayor Franz Xaver Gruber and the Head of Board of Tourism Karl Gostner.



Cella Wright, USA 2018, 6min.

An educational film teaching us everything we always wanted to know about our biggest enemies — the mosquitos. Done with a gentle, “old school” style & soft, attentive cinematography, this film was a pleasure to watch and learn from.




Sil van der Woerd & Jorik Dozy, INDONESIA 2018, 5min

This beautiful film begins as a wonderful underwater fairy-tale. It first makes you dream and then brings you right “down to earth”, showing the sad reality of our oceans. With astonishing cinematography and no spoken words, it hits you right in the heart and makes you feel ashamed of being a human.



Jan van Ijken, THE NETHERLANDS 2018, 6min

The film hypnotically shows us the miracle of coming to life in a very simple and delicate way. It makes us wonder and understand where we all came from also as humans. It shows the very complex mechanism of nature and makes the single creation of all beings look even more magical. The filmmaker successfully condenses 3 weeks into a few minutes, accompanied by a gently embracing sound design, leading spectators through the exceptional journey of birth.




Barnabas Toth, HUNGARY 2018, 16min

A film that pleasantly stands out from all moralizing films on the topic of environment. Quite often energy efficiency does not attract a lot of attention and also in the film the topic is set in the background. It shows that there is need for action and that energy topics can be delivered differently, with a good sense of humor, positivity and without a moral ending (and neither an immoral one…)




Annamaria Talas, AUSTRALIA 2018, 52min

Despite our technological progress we still overlook the giant kingdom of fungi and its implications on our prosperity. With stunning pictures and on a scientifically profound basis this film places fungi as well as one of their main habitats – soil –  into the spotlight. This is an excellent documentary, that gives fantastic insights on the importance of fungi for the environment and for us humans.



Eric Liner, USA 2017, 94min

The film is the climax of a long, passionate project that started in 1977, to save the biggest and the most endangered eagle in the world. The images convey his lifetime vision to an intimate portrait of this rare bird, in the secluded Philippine forests. The shots were captured skillfully overcoming the hurdles given by the natural ambiance. From the nest we grasp the bigger picture of environmental issues.






Diego Porral, SPAIN 2017, 3min

This is a creative animation film with a good sense of humor that ironically mocks our era. It puts us in the shoes of our grandparents and shows us the evolution of our current crisis of values. Through a temporal perspective the present turns out to be more idealistic than what the future holds for us.



Britton Caillouette, USA 2018, 43min.

The film condenses opulent images from original locations, oppressive moods and scenes from the Balkan Peninsula’s present and leaves an irritating aftertaste. Yet it gives hope too, that initiatives launched by local people may reverse the trend. The film leads us to the heart of so called civilized Europe and it is a visually stunning outcry to stop the unlimited exploitation of the last pristine rivers.




Katrina Costello, Ireland 2018, 75min.

This film is a sustainable fairytale, that bridges a past era to current issues, in an unconventionally poetic form that is also visually mesmerizing. We are presented with an intimate story of a unique place in Ireland, within a landscape that has been cultivated for centuries. Through the thoughts of the farmer and his everyday work we immerse ourselves in a traditional way of life that has been long forgotten. The powerful images are a true ode to nature.




Oliver Goetzl, Germany 2018, 56min.

This film tells a true story of a wolf pack with stunning cinematography. The drama of survival under arctic conditions is visually set in a perfect context with the harshness of the place. For the first time we see exclusive footage of the behavior of this species, in particular the strong characters of female wolves and their offspring. The film crew remarkably endured the challenging weather conditions of the extreme Canadian wilderness. The audience is in suspense from the beginning to the end.


Exploring Innsbruck

If you buy an Innsbruck Card you will have the key to visit the town’s highlights. This pass offers many free services for a truly fascinating alpine-urban experience in Innsbruck, and you may choose whether you prefer a pass that gives you access for 24, 48 or 72 hours. You will be granted the chance to go up to the mountains, visit the most stupendous museums and use public transport, as well as the The Sightseer.  This is a hop-on hop-off bus that gives you a great feel for Innsbruck, you can decide when to get on and off, and while onboard you will follow a cultural itinerary. Every single seat is equipped with headphones that provide, in multiple languages, the explanation of the part of Innsbruck that is being unveiled, and there is even a version for children.

The Mountains

If you take the new Hungerburg Funicular, designed by star architect Zaha Hadid, and continue with the panorama cable cars of Seegrube and Hafelekar, you will  be embraced by stupendous nature, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the city. The Nordkette is part of Austria’s largest nature park, and its breathtaking 360° view leaves a lasting impression, with the capital of the Alps on one side and Tyrol’s most extensive conservation area on the other.

On the other side of town, if you take a bus you will take only half an hour to reach the nearby town of Patscherkofel, where a cable car will lead you to the stupendous Zirbenweg trail, that with its name tributes the pine population surrounding it.


Royal Flair

The Habsburgs ruled Europe for almost eight centuries and their Imperial family left a mark in Innsbruck with some mind-gobbling Royal Mansions. The two most notorious are the Hofburg, that Empress Maria Theresa referred to as the “Little Schönbrunn of the Alps.” This Imperial Palace was built in Baroque style and is home to impressive ceiling frescos by F. A. Maulbertsch and portraits of the Royal family. It regularly hosts exhibitions, and the current one Guernica – Icon of Peace, features works by Pablo Picasso, Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrenbach and 33 other contemporary artists that have taken Positions for Peace. Worthy of mention is the NeuroArt by Lucia N°03, that through light technology opens a space within the brain to create a unique work of art. The other majestically astonishing royal venue is the Schloss Ambras, a mansion that was originally built as a medieval fortress, and was remodeled in the 16th century into a comfortable Renaissance castle with magnificent gardens.

The Old Town

While wondering through the centre of Innsbruck you will be struck by the way Gothic and Baroque coalesce, characterizing the classic Austrian hybrid of the town that is enveloped by the Alps. The Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl), is the legacy of Emperor Maximilian I, who decided to draw attention to his favorite place in Innsbruck, the loggia of his alcove balcony on the main square, having the roof covered with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. The Tyrolean State Museum (Ferdinandeum) shows an artistic journey through the history of this region, spanning from the prehistoric and Roman eras through to the modern days. The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche)  is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and is the official church of the Innsbruck University, and is the place where the annual Tyrolean vow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus takes place here. The Court Church (Hofkirche) is distinguished by the 28 life-size bronze figures that stand guard, watching over the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I — fun fact: eight of the “Black Men” (Schwarzmander) are actually women and the Emperor’s tomb is empty. But the most glorious church of all is the Cathedral of St. James (Dom zu St. Jakob), considered amongst the most important Baroque buildings in the Tyrol, featuring the painting Maria Hilf (Mary of Succor) by Lucas Cranach the Elder and the canopied tomb of Archduke Maximilian III of Austria. Currently the Cathedral is undergoing exterior renovations, and the scaffolding has allowed to affix a large banner, that bishop Mr. Hermann Glettler, commissioned a local feminist artist, Katharina Cibulka, that reads: “As long as God has a Beard, I am a Feminist” (Solange Gott einen Bart hat, bin ich Feminist).

If you want some city-green without going up to the mountains, walk past the Tyrolean State Theatre (Landestheater), and you will come across the Court Garden (Hofengarten StadtPark). During its six-hundred-year history, it was turned into a Renaissance garden, a French formal garden and, its last conversion was conceived by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell. There is also a children’s play park with castle constructions, and a pavilion, at the center, that hosts exhibitions, events and chess tournaments in the outdoor life-sized boards. It is notable to acknowledge that you will be wandering through some shrubs and trees that were planted personally by Empress, Maria Theresa.


…and there is still more to see!