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The last Days of the Wild Sturgeon?

Billion Dollar Fish


The Story

The River Danube is home to a fish that grows larger than the Great White Shark. Although it leads a secretive life, the Beluga Sturgeon – the King of the Danube – produces the most prized food in the whole world. For over 200 million years, the 8-metre long fish had no enemies, and yet today it is on the verge of extinction. Evolution did not prepare the fish for pollution, river regulation and overfishing. Beluga caviar is traded for up to 20,000 dollars per kilogramme. Ironically, the high price of this precious product could save the animals from a premature disappearance from planet earth.

“Billion Dollar Fish” tells the tale of a giant survivor from prehistoric times and the desperate fight of a handful of scientists to save it from extinction.

Cameraman Rolando Menardi and director Alfred Schwarzenberger created this tragic portrait of a fish that populated the rivers long before the first dinosaurs walked the earth, but is now in grave danger of falling victim to greed and ruthlessness. Their film follows the scientists in their race against time and offers new insights into the lives of the fishermen along the river Danube. In fascinating images full of sadness and beauty, they document the life of what may well be the last remaining belugas.




German & English

Production Team

Directed by Alfred Schwarzenberger ● Written by Jeremy Hogarth, Rita Schlamberger ● Camera Rolando Menardi ● Additional Camera Jiri Petr, Knut Sodemann ● Camera Assistants & Location Sound Engelbert Obex, Martin Rohrmoser, Mario Cater, Sebastian Jung ● Editors Omer Sacic, Alfred Schwarzenberger ● Music Alexander Bresgen ● Sound Design Raimund Sivetz, Martin Rohrmoser ● Dubbing Editor & Mix Martin Rohrmoser ● Narrated by Howard Nightingall, Stewart Freeman, Robin Lee, Hal Rock ● Colourist Raimund Sivetz ● Archives Inland Aquaculture Institute, BandarAnzali – Guilan Province- IRAN ● Location Managers Valentina Bita, Adina Caboota, Ruth Schmid ● Production Manager Anita Pfeffinger ● Producer Michael Schlamberger ● Executive Producer Sabine Holzer

Thanks to Bubamara, Paolo Bronzi, Caviar Giaveri, Hotel Danieli, Haki Institut, Jutta Jahrl, Uwe Korroch, Donaudelta Institut, Eurotire, Fancesca Grigolin, Cristina Grundner.

A Production of ScienceVision for Terra Mater Factual Studios.


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Making of Shooting Hotel Danieli in Venice


NaturVision Film Festival
Germany, June 2012, Nomination

Silver Lake Tourfilm Festival – SILAFEST
Serbia, September 2012, Nomination

CineEco Festival 2012
Portugal, October, 2012, Nomination

Montana Cine International Film Festival 2012
USA, October 2012, “Best of Category for Water Issues, Focus Award”

Wildlife Film Festival Vaasa
Finland, November 2012, 2nd Place category “Best Environmental Conservation Film”

East Silver Market 2013
Czech Republic, March 2013, Nomination

Deauville Green Festival
France, April 2013, Gold Award in the category Economy & Ecology – Documentary-Film

DocumentArt Festival
Romania, September 2013, Award “for documentary on conservation of natural resources & economy”

Innsbruck Nature Film Festival
Austria, October 2013, 3rd Place “Großer Preis der Stadt Innsbruck”

CINE Golden Eagle Award
USA, December 2013, “Televised Documentary & Performance Division – Environment & Nature”

Ökofilmtour 2014
Germany, April 2014, Finalist “Category Artenschutz”

International Jahorina Eco&Tourfilm Festival 2014
Bosnia & Herzegovina, October, 2014, Nomination category “Environmental”

Ecozine Film Festival
Spain, May 2015, Nomination

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