6 months ago

Op-Docs | The Waiting – The New York Times

It is about all life on our planet.

German filmmakers Volker Schlecht, Alexander Lahl, and Max Mönch met the ecologist Karen Lips in Washington, D.C. One morning, she picked us up from a Metro station and took us to Shenandoah National Park, keen to show us a species of salamander.

Ms. Lips describes herself as an amphibian forensic scientist. For decades, she has been researching the disappearance of amphibian species, and what she told us that day was shocking.

In the rainforest of Costa Rica a researcher lives for several years in a tiny little shack to observe frogs. When she leaves the place for a short time and returns, not a single frog is to be found anymore. Karen sets out to find them – and encounters a gruesome mystery

The Waiting (trailer) from Drushba Pankow on Vimeo.

As filmmakers, we’ve covered the extinction of species and other ecological issues in our work for years. Mammals, reptiles, insects, fish — much of the planet’s wild fauna is threatened with extinction. But no other vertebrate class is as threatened as amphibians.

Herpetologists like Ms. Lips don’t just fear for individual species; they fear for the class Amphibia as a whole. No one else we had met and interviewed on this subject seemed to be as affected by it as Ms. Lips. To put it simply: Frogs, salamanders and all amphibians are her life. For her, their increasing disappearance from our planet is a personal drama. We finally found a few of the salamanders toward the end of our day up in the mountains.

Mysterious deaths have occurred all over the planet and followed a similar pattern. Why have so many species vanished? And what does it all have to do with us

We were delighted at seeing them but also disheartened. Ms. Lips had no doubt that they, too, could soon vanish. That night, full of emotion, we interviewed Ms. Lips, who is the voice of this documentary. This is about much more than frogs and salamanders. It is about all life on our planet.


Watch full 16 min doc here

ANIMATION Volker Schlecht
SOUND DESIGN Hannes Schulze
MUSIC Hannes Schul

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Volker Schlecht is a Berlin-based illustrator, artist and filmmaker Alexander Lahl and Max Mönch have made numerous films and are the managing directors of mobyDOK, a Berlin-based production company. They previously produced the Op-Docs “Broken: The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck” and “Rebel Monk.”

Op-Docs is the New York Times’ award-winning series of short documentaries by independent filmmakers. From emerging directors to Oscar winners, Op-Docs brings you the very best nonfiction filmmaking from around the world.