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“Wildcat” Wins Emmy for Outstanding Nature Documentary, Co-Executive Produced by Age of Union

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The film, which tells a powerful story of how wildlife can heal humanity, earned global recognition at the 44th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

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Joe McCarthy

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When Harry Turner was filming his life in the Peruvian Amazon, he figured it might be useful to someone in the future, even if only to family members who could better understand his journey. 

Now, his story, as told in the Amazon Prime documentary Wildcat, has won the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Nature Documentary” at the 44th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Sept. 28. Wildcat, created by Melisha Lesh and Trevor Frost and co-executive produced by Age of Union, sheds light on mental illness, the healing potential of wildlife, and urgent efforts to protect biodiversity worldwide. 

The film follows Turner, a veteran turned conservationist, and Samatha Zwicker, an American Ph.D. student, tropical ecologist, and wildlife rehabilitation specialist, as they rescue and care for animals, particularly ocelot wild cats, in the Peruvian Amazon, all while dealing with their own personal struggles. 

“Film can be a voice for the voiceless, like the ocelots Khan and Keanu rescued by Sam and Harry in the film,” said Dax Dasilva, Age of Union Founder and Wildcat Co-Executive Producer. “As Melissa Lesh said on the Emmys stage, this award is dedicated to them and the story of other wild animals who need our help more than ever.”

Turner travelled to the Peruvian Amazon following a traumatizing stint as a soldier as part of the American-led invasion of Afghanistan, and Zwicker went there for professional reasons, founding the nonprofit Hoja Nueva that fosters “sustainable agroforestry, matrix habitat research, community projects, and domestic animal welfare.” Eventually, their paths crossed, and a strong bond was formed, allowing for mutual understanding and growth.

 

“​​This film is very relatable to a lot of people, whether it be animal lovers, people struggling with mental health, people who have served in the military, people who are connected with their family, or whether it be people who are distant from their family,” Turner told Age of Union. “You can go into this film not having a single clue who I am or what my story is, and you can walk away relating to the projects, the process, and the struggles many people go through.”

Age of Union supports numerous documentaries to highlight conservation work, community activism, and stories that galvanize climate action. The nonprofit’s latest documentary, The Corridor, explores women’s role in protecting the habitat of critically endangered lowland gorillas in the Congo Basin Rainforest.  

 

Age of Union has also previously worked with Lesh and Frost, producing the short film The Heart of a Mission. The two filmmakers plan to tell more stories about people dedicating their lives to protecting ecosystems in the years ahead.  

“We only have 10 or 20 years to save the planet [and] turn things around, and that’s what Melissa and I kept falling back on — this idea that I needed to keep fighting for that,” Frost said. “Because if we don’t protect these places, wildlife, and their ecosystems, then nothing else matters. Social issues, governmental corruption — none of that matters if we don’t have a healthy planet.”

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Cover: Marc Bryan-Brown for NATAS

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Article written by
Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy is a writer based in Brooklyn who specializes in global politics, climate action, and pop culture.

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