Wildscreen Film Festival is fast descending on Bristol and we mustn't forget its focus. The Panda awards are known as the Green Oscars and represent the cream of the crop from the natural history filmmaking industry.
New to the awards this year we have the Natural History Museum Environment Award, the Animal Planet International People & Animals Award and the Presenter-led Award.
If it wasn't for this event we couldn't have imagined the leaps and bounds this industry has taken to be possible.
Time and time again we see the BBC Natural History Unit raise the bar for wildlife filmmaking with pioneer blue-chip programmes and unique multi-media ventures, but without this review of their competition would they push so hard and so far? Would their competitors have been left straggling behind?
Here's a quick look at the BBC NHU entries to the Panda Awards this year.
Extreme Animals: Sports Stars has been nominated for the UWE Children's Choice Award. Extreme Animals: Sports Stars examined who would win the race to be the tip top fastest fittest animal from ten contenders. Although the fastest animal is the Peregrine Falcon, reaching speeds up to 200km/h, the Cheetah took the top position!
Galapagos: Born of Fire is up for the Panasonic Award for Cinematography for its spectacular images of outstanding natural beauty and the camerawork that brought them to the public eye. This Award actually marks the competition between three nominees all produced or co-produced by the BBC NHU: one of which involves co-production with previous Panda Award stars Halcyon media. Wye: Voices from the Valley has similar undercurrents and tone to the award-winning My Halcyon River which wowed the judges at Wildscreen 2004, and, like Galapagos: Born of Fire, was nominated for both best cinematography and the Films @59 Award for Best Sound.
Expedition Guyana (Programme 1) is a hopeful nominee for the Best Editing Award. Expedition Guyana followed a group of adventurers and scientists into the unexplored depths of the jungle to seek out new species and behaviours. The team made exciting discoveries and conquered dangerous landscapes to make this fantastic programme but the editors had to wade through hundreds of hours of footage and reduce them to a few succinct episodes!
Buddha, Bees and the Giant Hornet Queen, one episode of an outstanding Natural World series by the BBC, is up for the Parthenon Entertainment Award for Innovation. This programme shows the unique and mysterious connection between a monk, his bee colony and the hungry killer hornet army that amasses on his doorstep. Definitely a strong contender for this award and definitely worth finding on DVD or borrowing from your local video library.
Elephant Diaries (programme 4) has been nominated for the Five Award for Popular Broadcast Programme. The diary format is one with which we are all familiar and the recent successes of the BBC NHU with Big Cat Diary demonstrates how popular their work in this genre will continue to be. Competitors in this category are up against the best in the business!
Life in Cold Blood: The Cold-Blooded Truth is a strong nominee for Best Series Award. What would a Panda Award ceremony be without David Attenborough? And yet they may find themselves pipped to the post by Ammonite Ltd's fantastic series Smalltalk Diaries which makes up for in character, what it lacks in cinematography.
All in all this year's nominees represent the consistently improving quality of Wildlife film being churned out around the world. Without Wildscreen we couldn't qualitatively scrutinise such programmes to push them forward in their own creativity; and without the BBC's NHU who would set the bar to get the rest of the industry to keep their socks pulled up?!