Around the World
The “First Earth Run”, a global torch-relay organized with UNICEF that celebrated the 1986 Year of Peace, became a turning point for Haroldo Castro. Inspired by his journey around the world, as the official photographer of the event, he wrote a 200-page book. For the launch of “A Corrida do Fogo” in Brazil, he was asked by his editor to produce a short video about the remarkable event. The video The Fire Run started a new chapter in Haroldo's life. "It was the opportunity I was waiting to jump from the still to the moving image," affirms Haroldo.
A few years and videos later, CI asked him and his wife Flavia Castro to produce a short documentary for their Brazil program. They produced "A Cry for Life” , a poetic approach to the environmental crisis in Brazil. We used the music of Egberto Gismonti to inspire viewers," says Director Haroldo Castro. Poetic or not, the fact is that the singularity of the approach impressed the jurors of the first Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the 12-minute video got the Best Informational Award in 1991. Among other prestigious awards, “A Cry for Life” also received the First Prize Jaguar at the film festival organized during the 4th World Parks Congress, in Caracas, in 1992.
Haroldo recalls “1992” was the year when CI understood that films and videos could represent a key support for conservation." Michel Batisse, CI's Board member and a special advisor at UNESCO, convinced both organizations that a documentary should be produced to explain the concept of Biosphere Reserves. The 30-minute program was edited in four languages and was distributed to officers of all 180 countries represented at the Earth Summit in Rio. After the success at the Earth Summit, Haroldo decided to take the camera himself. "I was already a mature photographer. To become a cinematographer was an obvious next step."
Lemurs in Madagascar
The first assignment was Madagascar, in 1993. It was the first time that Haroldo Castro would be working as a cinematographer-director-field producer. He could not blame anybody else if he had screwed the job. "I still remember the moment when I came back to Washington and went directly to the editing room at ZGS Communications to view some of the 30 cassettes I had recorded. When I saw the first images of lemurs, with the right color and in focus, I knew that I was starting a new career."
All these images were edited into a 12-minute video entitled “Fanamby”, a Malagasy word meaning challenge. The program was produced in three languages and was launched in Antananarivo in 1994. "It was the first high-quality production made exclusively for the Malagasy audience. We had a tremendous impact and great reviews in the local media; three ministers came for the launching event. CI's President Russ Mittermeier was astonished with the positive results," remembers Haroldo. Fanamby was also praised in other countries: the film was part of a 1995 exhibit Islands: Between the Sky and the Sea at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and won an award at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
Better than an award
Do awards are really important to producers? Haroldo responds: "Return to Tambopata" never gave us any important award but it was one of the most successful environmental film we ever produced because it had a major conservation outcome." The 30-minute documentary was launched at a 750-people event in the Museo de la Nación in Lima, Peru, in February 1996, and was broadcast on primetime nationally by TV Panamericana. Caretas, a weekly Peruvian magazine, published a 16-page spread about Tambopata. "The impact on the public opinion was vital and five months later the Peruvian government declared the establishment of the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park in the Tambopata region," concludes Haroldo Castro.
Haroldo received more than 30 awards as Producer and Director for his documentaries and other video stories, including three at Jackson Hole, "the most prestigious wildlife film festival," and near ten at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula.