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Year : 2004-2006

Producer(s) : Saint Thomas Productions, France 5, France 3, Canal+, National Geographic Channels

Running time : 11x52 mn

Format : Digital Beta, Super 16mm

Distributor(s) : Saint Thomas Productions

Awards :
International Wildlife Film Festival
Missoula, Montana, USA
Finalist
Merit award for presentation of a controversial issue

Wildscreen- Bristol
UK
Finalist

Vendee Nature Film Festival
La Rochelle, France
Silver Award

Menigoute Wildlife Film Festival
Menigoute, France
Education Award

International Festival of Insect Films
Narbonne, France
Special Award

European Film Festival
Valvert - Belgium
Best Commentary Cristal Eagle Award

Bird and Wildlife Film Festival
Abbeville, France
Best Scenario and Best Special Effects Award

5th Fifale Festival
Rabat, Morocco
Bronze Crane Award

Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival
USA
Finalist

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This 11 episode series questions the separation that our cultures or religions have tried to establish between human beings and animals.

Episodes

Animal Homosexuality

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Jessica Menendez, Stéphane Alexandresco
Director(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Jessica Menendez, Stéphane Alexandresco

According to recent scientific research, more than 450 different kinds of animals engage in homosexual activity. St Thomas Productions has taken this research, and combined it with never-before- seen film footage, to produce this compelling and groundbreaking documentary. Animal Homosexuality explores the various ways homosexuality is expressed in the animal kingdom through courtships, affection, sex, pair-bonding and parenting. A covert revolution has been taking place in nature, and has gone unnoticed until now. With the help of scientific research, international stock footage and location shoots all over the world, Saint Thomas re-examines and revises the fundamental paradigms of nature.


Animal Medicine

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Jacqueline Farmer
Director(s) : Jacqueline Farmer

Like us, animals are exposed to parasites, bacteria and viruses – the germs which cause disease. How do they survive these attacks ? Recent research and observation have shown that animals use plant and insect substances to treat themselves – not only do they apply things to their skin, they actually treat themselves by feeding on things not normally part of their diets. Capuchin monkeys rub citrus fruit on their fur, caterpillars eat poison hemlock, herbivorous red deer have even been seen chewing the legs off live seabirds. This film takes off around the world to discover how animals use medicine, it questions what notions they have about health and how medical knowledge is passed on from one generation to the next. In doing so, the film also asks what we can learn from animals about medicine.


Animal Language

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Keebe Kennedy
Director(s) : Keebe Kennedy

An Indonesian legend claims that monkeys can speak but they prefer to stay quiet. Do animals have languages that we don't understand? Is it just a question of getting the right dictionary or is language the one thing that separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom? Birds sing, lions roar and chimpanzees chatter but do these noises mean anything? This one-hour documentary takes viewers into the wild to listen to nature's noisemakers and meet some of the scientists who spend their days trying to have conversations with animals. From parrots to killer whales we find out who is saying what to whom and explore whether there is such a thing as animal language.


Animal Politics

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Guillaume Poyet
Director(s) : Guillaume Poyet

Man is not the only social animal. At the beginning of 2001, Franz de Waal published his work on a group of chimpanzees in the Arnhem zoo, in the Netherlands. He showed the existence of elaborate and subtle rites which, according to him, revealed a political organization. This fueled the foundation of an argument much debated in today’s scientific world. Man would therefore no longer stand as the only «political animal » as defined by Aristotle. Schemes, coalitions, and mediation are all aspects of chimpanzee behavior. Long before man took hold of the political domain, nature had provided other animal species with a whole array of political stratagems, from the most cunning to the most egalitarian: polyergus ants have been practicing slavery for millions of years, hamadryas baboons have a right of veto and deer on the Isle of Rum have established their own democracy. Biologists have even realized that some traits of character used by politicians to fulfill their ambitions (and reach their goals) can be found in other animal species. Domination, alliance-building, seduction and manipulation are forms of intelligence no longer monopolized by man. Barriers continue to fall as discoveries on animal societies throughout the world progress.


Animal Adoption

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Jacqueline Farmer
Director(s) : Jacqueline Farmer

Altruism, an act that bestows a benefit on the recipient while conferring a cost to the actor, is one of the central paradoxes of evolution. In the wild, where only the fittest survive, adopting other animals’ offspring is not really in line with Darwin’s theory of evolution. And yet, amongst bees, dolphins, lions and several primate species, altruism may go as far as adoption. In the case of social insects, parent substitution was a flaw in Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection: the biologist noticed that non-reproductive insects who adopted and helped young ones, brought a large portion of genetic baggage from their parents. Darwin had to broaden his theory to the family group. For mammals, including men, what advantage is there in the act of adoption? In the years following the adoption, does the adopted individual contribute to the foster parents’ survival and vice versa? The controversy at the heart of this documentary continues to be debated in today’s scientific world. While raising these different questions, this documentary will study each case separately because each adoption behaviour has evolved independently forming its own pattern, its own benefit and even… its own disadvantages.


Animal Tools

Author(s) : Bertrand Loyer, Guillaume Poyet
Director(s) : Guillaume Poyet

Recent discoveries have shown that hundreds of animal species use tools. New Caledonia crows, for instance, use twigs to remove insect larvae from their galleries; sea otters use flat stones to break open urchin shells or earshells; tailor ants weave leaves together with the threads secreted by the specie’s larvae. Until recently, it was believed that the human tool was different from the animal tool which is neither transmitted nor accumulated. Several long-term studies on animal populations have proven quite the contrary. The animal tool can be cultural, some chimpanzee populations for instance have their own technical traditions: they crack nuts with stones. Supported by these observations, this comprehensive documentary will be structured around three central questions: how does the tool-using animal transform the world? And by extension the others? And how does the tool transform the animal’s behaviour?


Animal Business

Author(s) : Nicolas Gabriel
Director(s) : Nicolas Gabriel

«Give me this, I will give you that». This universal definition of trade finds an equivalent in nature in a phenomenon call «mutualism». Shaped by evolution, it describes all long or short term exchanges and cooperation between animals to survive. It turns the traditional host-parasite relationship in a beneficial alliance for both partners. To describe mutualism, this fascinating and well-documented episode travels from the cold ocean dephts to the heat of summer corn fields where unexpected couples have formed : manta rays and remoras, sea cucumbers and shrimps or else butterflies and ants got married for better or for worst.


Animal Play

Author(s) : Keebe Kennedy
Director(s) : Keebe Kennedy

As children we learn more about life through playing games than we do in any other way. It is the ability to play that enables us to develop into well co-ordinated, adaptable, highly social individuals. But we are not alone, animals play also. For many years this animal play was thought to be somehow 'different' to human play, but this is proving not to be the case. Why do animals indulge in play, what are the functions of these energy draining and often dangerous activities? This interdisciplinary programm will explore the reasons that play is so important to development: by describing social, locomotor and object play behavior in animal as diverse as reptiles, birds and mammals, it will find out the benefits it does provide. Finally it will look at the shocking evidence of what happens to young animals who are prevented from playing. In a startling parallel to humans, animal deprived of play, develop into dysfunctional adults, and even serial killers.


Animal Emotions

Author(s) : Keebe Kennedy
Director(s) : Keebe Kennedy

The study of animal behavior leaves little room for emotional-related explanations. Feelings in animals tend to be presented as functional explanations of behavior in a given situation. The notion of emotion has been completely overlooked, especially in the sixties, at the peak of animal experimentation, since it was easier to deny animal feelings like sadness or suffering, to guiltlessly carry out all sorts of tests. Recognizing the existence of animal feelings implies moral obligations. Things however are changing… and many scientists who study animal behavior are paying more and more attention to emotions. But how could it be otherwise? To better understand a behavior we need to compare it to an already seen already and understood situation. And what could better help us understand a specific behavior than our own experience, our own behavior and our own emotions.


Animal Culture

Author(s) : Emma Baus, Bertrand Loyer
Director(s) : Emma Baus

In the 1950s, rhesus macaques living on the island of Koshima in Japan started to wash the sweet potatoes researchers gave them to eat. This observation could have remained anecdotal if the Japanese primatologists had not given this innovation the name of: “preculture”. Culture, always considered as a distinctive feature of the human race was being put into question. The study of the most evolved primates, our cousins the chimpanzees and bonobos, has since then enabled us to give a more precise definition of animal culture: habits acquired through a learning process leading to distinct traditions in different animal communities. Progressively other species have joined the culture club: elephants, dolphins, killer whales and even ravens…Through precise examples and never before seen footage, this documentary fuels the old debat of “nature versus culture” and sheds new light on the paradoxical question:“Is culture natural?”.


Animal web

Author(s) : Nicolas Gabriel, Bertrand Loyer
Director(s) : Bertrand Loyer

Insect societies have always fascinated us by the perfection of their organisation. But without their ability to secrete a substance (wax, glue, ...) insects would never have been induced to become organized. The first groupings were enabled by constructive secretions such as silk, a magical fibre that builds, unites, and speaks.
Among all the different animal secretions, silk is a formidable medium of information which encourages social interactions. For some species, this extraordinary substance serves as means of both communication, transportation, as well as protection, nourishment, and reproduction. With silk as the foundation, the social life of insects and spiders is organized around these web-networks.

Everywhere in nature, spun threads cross, interweave, and separate, creating many intersections where spinner insects and spiders can meet and feel each other's vibrations.
It's the beginning of a form of communication that can be transformed into a confrontation, a sexual encounter, or another form of interaction.

The techniques of macro-cinematography, endoscopy, and electronic microscopy will allow us to forget our giant size and enter into the intimate universe of social insects and spiders to discover the secrets of the silk spinners.