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The English Patient’s Desert


The Story

The Sahara – quintessence of the desert: one of the world‘s, most adverse, hostile regions was still largely unknown territory at the beginning of the 20th century. Until in 1933 the Austrian adventurer Ladislaus Almásy discovered cave paintings in the middle of the desert. These pre-historic works of art depicted a heavenly world filled with the large African animals, rivers, lakes and bathing people. The desert explorer had come across one of the most intricate puzzles of climatic history. The largest tropical desert of the world must once have been a luxuriant Garden of Eden.

Following Almásy’s trail, the many time award-winning Austrian natural history film-maker, Michael Schlamberger searches for traces of this exciting chapter in the natural history of the Sahara.





German & English

Production Team

Written & Directed by Michael Schlamberger ● Camera Michael Schlamberger, Rolando Menardi ● Camera Assistants Raimund Sivetz, Markus Ladurner ● Additional Camera Alastair MacEwen, Christopher Boyes, Erich Pröll, Josef Neuper, Andrej Zdravic ● Location Sound Rita Schlamberger, Raimund Sivetz, Jörg Goldbrunner ● Editor Andrew Naylor ● Digital Effects Raimund Sivetz ● Music Kurt Adametz ● Sound Design Jörg Goldbrunner, Andreas Fabianek ● Dubbing Editor Raimund Sivetz ● Dubbing Mix Raimund Sivetz, Florian Camerer ● Written by Martin Mészáros, Michael Gunton ● Narrated by Andrew Golder, Victor Couzyn ● Colourist Willi Willinger ● Scientific Consultants Peter Praschag, Jörg Goldbrunner ● Re-Enactments Lukas Kogler, Peter Praschag, Rita Schlamberger, Ted Button, Dietmar Irouschek, Susanne Malik ● Expedition Logistics Ethnographische Geo-Expeditionen Kohl, Juddaim Tourism Services, Spazi d’Avventura ● Production Co-Ordinator Anne-Marie Gores ● Production Manager Rita Schlamberger ● Co-Producers Andrew Solomon, Renate Marel ● Executive Producers Walter Köhler, Michael Schlamberger

Thanks to A.T.C.E  Mohamed Essayem, Ezzedine Besbes, Dr. Said Abdulaati, Familie Almásy-Berger, Patrick Morris (BBC), Dr. Lilli Bucher, Walter Diernberger, Direction Général des Forets, Dr. Kahled Zahzah, Alfred Engl, FV-Amt Tunesien, Naceur Mani, Claudia Vornwagner, Georg Gaßner, Reinhard Hetzeneder, Mag. Sonja Krusch, Landesmuseum Joanneum, Mag. Helmut Lein, O.N.T.T. Tunis, Taieb Hachaichi, Lofti Bourgoba, Mustafa Juma Salem, Schauspielhaus Graz, Alfred Wallner, Dr. Otmar Wiedenhofer, Wildtierpark Mautern,

Photographs and quotes from the book Ladislaus E. Almásy: “Schwimmer in der Wüste. Auf der Suche nach der Oase Zarzura”, Courtesy of Haymon-Verlag, Innsbruck 1997
Historical re-enactments have been inspired by passages from Almásy’s book.

A Co-Production of ScienceVision and ORF in association with Docstar and ZDF.


The New York Festival
USA, 2002, Finalist Nomination

Wildscreen, Bristol
United Kingdom, October 2002, Finalist Nomination

Sondrio Festival
Italy, October 2002, Finalist Nomination

International Mountain Film Festival Trento
Italy, May 2002, Finalist Nomination

“Environmental Film Festival Green Vision” St. Petersburg
Russia, September 2002, Finalist Nomination

Tourfilm Festival Karlovy Vary
Czech Republic, September 2002, Diploma

International Festival of Ménigoute
France, November 2002, Prix Paysages

Festival International du Film Animalier, Albert
France, March 2003, Award (“Getting to know and protecting Wildlife Prize”)

Festival International du Film Animalier, Albert
France, March 2003, Award (“Special Prize for the best Picture”)

Festival International du Film Animalier, Albert
France, March 2003, Finalist Nomination “Grand Prix”, “Prize for the best scientific Film”, “Spécial Prize for the best Scenario”

International Wildlife Film Festival Missoula, Montana
USA,  April, 2003, Finalist Award – Merit Award for Cinematography

Festival de l’Oiseau Abbeville
France, April, 2003, La Mention Spéciale pour la Photographie et la Mise en Valeur du Biotope

International Festival of Films, TV Programmes and Video Programmes dealing with the environment protection and improvement Banska Bystrica
Slowakei, May, 2003, Prize of the General Director of the Slovak Television

Annual U.S. International Film and Video Festival California
USA, June, 2003, 3rd Place, “Certificate for Creative Excellence”

International Mountain + Adventure Filmfestival Graz
Austria, November 2003, 1st Place – Kamera Alpin in Gold – Category IV “Nature and Environment”

International Festival of Mountain and Adventure Films “Vertical” Moskau
Russia, April 2004, Winner of the category “Mountain Nature”

Cervino Film Festival Turin
Italy, July, 2004, 2nd Prize in the category “Documentaries”

International Filmfestival EcoVision, Palermo
Italy, May, 2005, “Special Prize for the Ecotourist-Film
for the wideness of the geographical and human representation, upbeared by a remarkable figurative sensibility”

Press Information


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