The Second Life

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The Movie

A feature-length documentary film by Davide Gambino
A co-production with Mon Amour Films, Italy and Take FiveBelgium
Participants of the Documentary Campus Masterschool 2016

World premiere at the DOK.fest München May 2020
Nationwide cinema release on 21.04.2022

With millions of species threatened with extinction, three world-class museum taxidermists prepare for the European Taxidermy Championship, trying to remind us what we are about to lose forever.

The world is at a turning point. Human impact threatens millions of species with extinction - with the dramatic loss of biodiversity endangering the existence of human kind itself. However, there is one obscure profession that is at the forefront of reminding us of what we are about to lose forever: Maurizio, Robert and Christophe are three world-class taxidermists working at the natural history museums of Berlin, Rome and Brussels. Their mission? Giving the animals they prepare a voice to speak out against human kind’s war on nature. Although they have never met, they share the conviction that preserved animals can help to overcome the gap between society and nature. The three are shown preparing for the 2018 European Taxidermy Championships, the most important competition of their careers. While this is the last chance for Maurizio before retiring, Christophe is participating for the first time. For Robert, the title of European Champion is all that’s missing from his collection of international awards. And as the three get ready for the Championship in Salzburg and with their profession becoming increasingly threatened with extinction itself, another voice rises from the dead to give humans one last warning.

Credits

Author and director: Davide Gambino
Erste Kamera: Dieter Stürmer
Zweite Kamera: Michael Springer, Pascal Colson, Francesco Scazzosi
Sound: Manuel Ernst, Jule Cramer
Zusätzlicher Ton: Axel Schmidt
Music: Jan Swerts
Edit: Simon Arazi, Christelle Berry
Schnittassistenz: Romain Waterlot, Samira El Mouzghibati, Juliette Kergoat
Zusätzliche Editoren: Chiara De Cunto, Gabriele Gismondi
Redaktion: Isabelle Christiaens (RTBF)
Protagonisten: Maurizio Gattabria, Robert Stein, Christophe de Mey
Voice Over Artist: Caroline Donnelly (EN), Katharina Thalbach (GER), Daniele Denie (FR)
Sound Editing: Lise Bouches
Assistierende Sound Editor: Arthur Meeus de Kemmeter, Hugo Mariman
Sound Consultant: Gianluca Donati
Sound Mix: Jean-François Levillain
Skript editing /Autor voice over Petronilla: Lukas Roegler
Motion Graphics Designer: Amir Borenstein
Ausführender Produzent: Thurnfilm – Valentin Thurn
Co-Produzenten: Take Five – Alon Knoll, Gregory Zalcman / Mon Amour Films – Ruggero di Maggio, Davide Gambino
Line Producer: Laura-Johanne Zimmermann
Location Unit Managers: Philipp Griess, Lukas Roegler, Katrien Feyaerts, Daniele Fabrizi, Guiseppe Garasto, Stefan Pfeiffer
Produktion Assistenten: Muriel Breier, Tamina Moana Soell, Corinna Poetter, Guillaume Imbert, Silvia Miola, Ruggero Cusimano
Produktions-Buchhaltung: Boris Dillen, Eric Jaminet, Marco li Puma
Rechtsbeistand: Christian Füllgraf, JVM/Eric Jooris, Donatella Mugnano
Zusätzlicher Skript Editor: Sebastian Stobbe
Color Grading: Franck Ravel
Italienische Übersetzung: Ester lo Biundo
Deutsche Übersetzung: Lukas Roegler
Niederländische Übersetzung: Marie-Eve Cosemans

Mit Unterstützung von: Die Beauftragte für Kultur und Medien, sicilia film commission
Co-Poduktion: RTBF.be
In Zusammenarbeit mit: WDR, arte, Belgian Tax Shelter
Nationaler Kinovertrieb: realfiction
Weltvertrieb: NEWDOCS

Trailer

The Protagonists

ROBERT STEIN

TAXIDERMIST AT THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, BERLIN

Robert is an award-winning taxidermist. Since 2004, he has regularly participated in taxidermy championships and won several European and World titles with his bird taxidermy. In 2012, he won the "Best of Show" title with a climbing kea. He has loved birds since childhood. This gives him a tremendous understanding of the movements of birds and he can masterfully translate this into his taxidermy.

CHRISTOPHE DE MEY

PREPARATOR AT THE MUSÉE DES SCIENCES NATURELLES, BRUSSELS

Christophe works as a taxidermist for scientific collections and museum exhibitions. He looks for the emotions that come back directly from the animal he wants to give a second life. Christophe has a special passion and connection with big cats, but each animal has a symbolic story that he tries to freeze in time. A marriage between man and animal.

MAURIZIO GATTABRIA

TAXIDERMIST AT THE MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF ZOOLOGY, ROME

Born in a southern Italian village, Maurizio grew up among flowers, lizards and butterflies. Taxidermy is his way of telling stories, and for the last 40 years he has worked at the Municipal Museum of Zoology in Rome. He participated in several international competitions and won prizes such as "Third in Europe" at the Championship in Dortmund, Germany and "Best of Category" at the World Championship in Springfield, USA. Being able to work with reptiles, birds, fish and mammals, he is considered the Italian wizard of taxidermy, but he always says that "from the cradle to the grave you are always learning".

Director's Note

We humans believe that we control and dominate the planet. But the more we question the ecosystem, the more threats arise from nature. The more we find out that we are not the masters of the world, the more we discover that we are animals among other species, finally realizing that our destiny is interconnected.

Taxidermy is a controversial and mysterious profession that perfectly illustrates the clash of human contradictions. On the one hand it reveals the human fantasy of ruling over life and death, on the other hand it represents a peculiar bridge between man and the animal world.

Museum taxidermists, with their skilled hands, create the illusion of the very life that has been destroyed by other human hands. The more we observe taxidermists trying to breathe life back into their animal specimens, the more we sense a magical and secret pact between them, the more clearly we hear a voice from death reminding us: "When we die, you die too".

Special Thanks to

About Davide Gambino