Uncovering the Facts with ORF-Enterprise 

Armin Luttenberger, head of content sales international at ORF-Enterprise, talks to World Screen Newsflash about the highlights of the company’s factual slate.

Austria’s ORF-Enterprise offers a bevy of nature, science, wildlife and history documentaries from the broadcaster ORF, a selection of which are available from its Universum and Universum History strands. Blue-chip titles from the strands delve into everything from the venom of the Black Mamba to the backwaters of Ireland’s River Shannon, taking viewers on excursions to the far corners of the globe.

“Documentaries from ORF’s nature and wildlife strand have been inspiring audiences all over the world for more than 30 years,” says Armin Luttenberger, head of content sales international at ORF-Enterprise. Made up of in-house and international productions, Universum “provides a unique selection of high-quality documentaries featuring outstanding camerawork and 4K visuals,” he adds. Launched in January 2013, Universum History upholds the same quality standards while focusing on the more human side of things, telling the tales and revisiting the fabled feats of mankind.

Highlights set to hit the market in the fall include Universum’s Corsica—Mountains in the Sea, a 4K production that “gives the audience a visually stunning insight into [the region’s] flora and fauna,” according to Luttenberger; and Universum History’s Richard the Lionheart, which Luttenberger says features “lavish re-enactments to shine a light on the crusader and king who, after centuries, still remains a myth to many.”

Further factual offerings from ORF-Enterprise include Maria Theresa— Europe’s Mother-in-Law, which tells the story of the titular Austrian ruler, the only woman to helm the storied Habsburg house and the last ruler of the dynasty; and The Nero Files—Uncovering an Ancient Conspiracy, focusing on the life of Rome’s notorious Emperor Nero, known most widely for burning his own city to the ground. Produced by Interspot Films, the new doc sees historians, psychologists, criminologists and toxicologists weigh in to reassess Roman history and determine if Nero was the psychotic tyrant he’s rumored to have been, or the victim of history’s most successful smear campaign.

The recent discovery of her chief-of-staff’s diaries prompted the production of Beauty & Despair: Austria’s Empress Sisi, which gives viewers an inside look at the mysterious life of the assassinated monarch. “The diary entries written by Count Warsberg—who was an expert in Greek antiquity and also her confidant—give insight into Elisabeth’s emotional world, her life on Corfu and her relationship with her husband Franz Joseph I of Austria,” says Luttenberger. “Elisabeth was a strong woman full of contradictions, not always sympathetic, but fascinatingly modern—a woman who captivates people.” The one-off will be presented by ORF-Enterprise at the upcoming Sunny Side of the Doc.

ORF-Enterprise is also presenting Empire of the Vineyard at Sunny Side, a one-off that gives a nod to the four-legged rulers of the wine-producing world. “The footage was shot in the picturesque vineyards of France, Austria and Germany and uncovers a secret ecosystem amongst the vines,” says Luttenberger. “Here’s to the critters that actually help make wine—Cheers!”