Experiencing Interruptions?

When the sky ran dry

In the Anthropocene, when humans have radically altered the planet’s climatic conditions, droughts can no longer be seen as a purely natural phenomenon defined by the absence of rain. Fundamental changes to the earth’s surface through deforestation and the exposure of soils have destabilized longstanding hydrological cycles, significantly increasing the severity and geographical range of droughts. Consequently, landscapes are subject to new risks produced by human action, urgently asking for a coordinated and global response. This documentary travels with nomads, researchers and farmers on an investigative journey across continents to learn more about promising solutions for proactively engaging with droughts (Bolivia, South Africa, Tanzania).

  • Dr. Patrick Augenstein
  • Dr. Patrick Augenstein
  • Dr. Yukie Hori
  • Dr. Daniel Tsegai
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    43 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 12, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Bolivia, Plurinational State of, Germany, Kenya, South Africa
  • Language:
    English, French, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • United Nations University
    December 19, 2018
    Europe Premiere
  • Selected: International Film Market & Festival
    Cape Town
    South Africa
  • Selected: Out of Africa International Film Festival
  • Selected: International Green Film Festival
Director Biography - Dr. Patrick Augenstein


2018 -
Associated Scientist – Collaborative Research Center (CRC), Development Geography, University Bonn

Visiting Lecturer (Master student course) - Kathmandu Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Visiting Lecturer (Master student course) - Ngaoundéré University, Cameroon

2016 - 2018
Associated Scientist University of Bremen (artec), Germany

2016 -
Founder & CEO - Gesellschaft für internationale Umweltbildung gem. e.V., Germany

2014 - 2016
Head of Film Productions - Commonland Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2013 - 2016
Doctoral Candidate (rer. pol.) University of Bremen, Germany
Reframing Restoration (summa cum laude)
Reviewers: 1. Prof. Dr. Michael Flitner
2. Prof. Dr. Eric Higgs

2012 -
Film production consultant to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat (UNCCD), Bonn, Germany

2011 - 2013
First assistant to the IUCN ambassador for ecosystem restoration, John D. Liu, Beijing, China

2010 - 2012
Film production consultant to the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Kigali, Rwanda

2009 - 2015
Research Director at the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP), Beijing, China

Research Assistant - Haller Foundation, Mombasa, Kenya

Practical training at the state sponsored broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Studio Oldenburg, Germany

2003 - 2007
Graduation (State Examination) in Geography, Philosophy and English, University of Freiburg i.Br., Germany

2002 - 2003
Studies of Geography and English, University of Cologne, Germany

Practical training at the state sponsored broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR), Baden-Baden, Germany

Exploratory Focus

• documentary film
• repeat photography
• political ecology
• restoration ecology


• Documentary Film-AG (Doc-AG)
• European Documentary Film Network (EDFN)
• Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR)
• Society for Ecological Restoration (SER)

Teaching Focus

• political ecology & environmental governance
• restoration ecology & sustainable development
• documentary film & repeat photography


The re-discovery of humanity - ecosystem restoration and migration (EEMPA) - preselected in the category Best Documentary Film, Malta Film Festival, Malta

Society for Ecological Restoration Communication Award (EEMP) Washington D.C., United States

Hope in a Changing Climate (EEMP) - Best Documentary Film at Green Screen Festival in Vancouver, Canada

Hope in a Changing Climate (EEMP) - Best Documentary Film in the category: Ecosystem at the International Wildlife Film Festival, Montana, USA


Augenstein, P. T. (2017). Reframing Restoration - Rwanda re-photographed 100 years later or the reconstruction of landscape memory. Doctorial thesis (summa cum laude). University Library Bremen (Microfiche).

Augenstein, P. T. (2015). China - Restoring the Loess Plateau. In A. Brasser et al.(Eds), 4 Returns from Landscape Restoration – A systemic and practical approach to restore degraded landscapes. Commonland Publication.

Augenstein, P. T. (2015). Rwanda - Restoring Wetlands and Hydropower. In A. Brasser et al. (Eds), 4 Returns from Landscape Restoration – A systemic and practical approach to restore degraded landscapes. Commonland Publication.

Augenstein, P. T. (2012). Wagenburgwunsch wird Wirklichkeit. In M. Ziel, S. Oßwald, O. Hasemann & D. Schnier (Eds.), Second Hand Spaces – über das Recyceln von Orten im städtischen Wandel (pp.123-125). Bremen: Zwischenzeit Zentrale Bremen.
Publication available under http://www.zzz-bremen.de/2nd-hand-spaces-dokumentation/

Augenstein, P. T. (2010). Die Goldenen Dörfer - Anders Leben. Polis - Das Magazin für Urban Development, 4, 62 - 65.

Augenstein, P. T. (2008). Wagenburgkultur in Deutschland – Mit einer Fallstudie zur Situation in Freiburg im Breisgau (Final examination paper / Grade: 1,3).
Publication available under https://www.yumpu.com/de/document/view/7193937/wagenburgkultur-in-deutschland-mit-einer-wagendorf


2019. The Great Green Wall - the series - (2K/work in progress). Executive Director & Producer.

2019. Holistic Pasture Management (2K/work in progress). Executive Director & Producer.

2019. Ecosystem-based adaption in Mauritania (HD+2K/work in progress). Director, Producer & Writer. (UNEP).

2018. Ecosystem-based adaptation in Nepal (HD+4K/work in progress). Director, Producer & Writer. (IEMP).

2018. When the skies ran dry (4K/43 min.) Director & Writer. (UNCCD, UNU)

2018. Greening Kilimanjaro (4K/work in progress). Director, Producer & Writer. (Embassy of the Earth).

2018. the end of famine (HD+4K/35 min.). Director, Producer & Writer. (DIE, UNCCD, WFP, University Ghent).

2017. Ethio trees’ initiatives in Ethiopia (4K/7 min.) Director, Producer & Writer. (University Ghent, Ethio trees).

2017. drought resilience - instant responses & long-term solutions (HD+2K /15 min.). Director, Producer & Writer. (UNCCD, DIE).

2017. drought resilience - UNCCD COP Ordos China (HD+2K/5 min.) Director, Producer & Writer. (UNCCD, DIE).

2016. The rituals of restoration (HD/12 min.). Director & Producer. (Stichting Wees een Kans).

2016. Planting Prosperity - Greening Peru (HD/15 min.). Director & Producer (Pachamama Raymi Trust).

2016. The re-discovery of humanity - ecosystem restoration and migration. (2K/ 28 min.). Director, Producer & Writer. (UNCCD, World Bank, IUCN).

2015. Forests for the Future – Ecosystem restoration in Ghana. (HD/25 min.). Director. (Form International).

2015. Kofi Annan on Ecosystem Restoration (2K/8 min.). Director & Producer. (Kofi Annan Foundation).

2015. The rules of degradation (HD/12 min.). Director, Producer & Writer. (SoLogical Foundation).

2014. North Korea - The Paektu Volcano - (HD/uncut) Pre-Prod. Assessment. (Werner Herzog Productions).

2014. Sunny Side of Doc in Chengdu - The Environmental Film in China (HD/15 min. x 4). Presenter. (Chengdu TV).

2014. Ecosystem Restoration, Conservation and Religion: Healing the Earth and the Human Spirit (HD/ 16 min.). Executive Director. (CEM, IUCN).

2014. Finding Common Ground in South Africa – Baviaanskloof Restoration. (HD/53 min.). Director. (Commonland Foundation).

2014. The Promise of the Commons (HD/22 min.). Director & Producer. (Foundation for Ecological Security).

2013. Underground Forests of West Africa (HD/12 min.). Executive Director. (UNCCD).

2013. The Blue Gold of the Aztecs - Watershed restoration in Mexico (HD/14 min.) Executive Director, Director of Photography. (UNCCD).

2013. Reclaiming the Commons - Lessons from India (HD/12 min.). Executive Director, Director of Photography. (UNCCD).

2013. Food Security and Landscape Transformation in Ethiopia (HD/30 min.). Scientific Researcher, Editor. (DFID).

2013. Threaten Species of China: The Oriental Stork (HD/4 min.). Associate Producer. (Tianjin TV).

2013. Perennial Paradise - Permaculture in Australia (HD/30 min.). Editor. (PIA).

2012. Andrew’s Experimental Research Forest, Oregon (HD/uncut). Director of Photography. (IUCN/USFS).

2012. Combating Soil degradation in Turkey: The history of TEMA (HD/12 min-). Scientific Researcher, Editor. (UNCCD).

2012. Eco-School Concept in Uganda (HD/15 min.). Director, Producer & Camera. (UNCCD).

2012. Jane Goodall - Restoring Earth (HD/8 min.). Editor. (JG-Institute).

2012. Rio+20 - The Path to Sustainability (HD/15 min-). Scientific Researcher, Director of Photography. (REMA/UNEP).

2011. Rwanda - Emerging in a Changing Climate (HD/30 min.). Scientific Researcher, Director of Photography. (CDKN/REMA).

2011. The Costs of Industrialization: Wealth and Cancer (HD/3x10 min.). Associate Producer. (Tangshan TV).

2011. Miyun - Watershed restoration for China’s capital (HD/15 min.). Produced, written, directed. (IUCN China).

2011. Forests keep Drylands Working (HD/15 min.) Scientific Researcher, Editor. (UNCCD).

2011. Rwanda - Forests of Hope (HD/30 min.). Assistant Editor. (REMA/UNEP).

2011. In Search of Sustainability – Restoring India’s Garo Hills (HD/10 min.). Filmed, written, directed. (IUCN).

2011. Green Call for Mongolia (HD/30 min.). Editor. (World Bank).

2010. Rwanda – Back to the Garden (HD/30 min.). Scientific Researcher, Camera. (REMA/UNEP).

2010. Green Call for China - Concerto (HD/30 min.). Assistant Editor. (World Bank).

2010. Forest Restoration in Nepal (HD/9 min.). Produced, written, directed. (EEMP).

2010. Four Stories on Ecosystem Restoration in Taiwan (HD/13 min.). Produced, written, directed. (EEMP).

2009. Hope in a Changing Climate (HD/30 min.). Assistant to the Director, Scientific Researcher. (BBC).

2009. The Next Steppe – Energy Efficiency in Mongolia (HD/30 min.). Sound Engineer. (World Bank).

2008. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report (HD/9 min.). Research Assistant. (UNEP).

2008. Reshaping Economic Geography (HD/30 min.). Audio Assistant. (World Bank).

2005. Regional news reporting (HD/8x2 min). Location Assistant. (NDR).

2003. Kensho - Japanische Freiheit (SD/8 min.). Produced, written, directed. (Experimental).

2002. Tatort - Flashback (32 mm/90 min.). Set Assistant. (SWR).

2001. A Hard Day’s Night (SD/35 min.). Produced, written, directed. (Experimental).

1998. Morning Glory (8mm/16 min.). Produced, written, directed. (Experimental).


2017. UNCCD COP Ordos, China

2017. Critical Geography Bremen, Germany

2016. Geographical Society Bremen, Germany

2015. Summer School on Ecosystem Restoration, Wageningen, The Netherlands

2015. Annual Conference - Society for Ecological Restoration, Manchester, Great Britain

2014. Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

2013. Initiative of Change, Caux, Switzerland

2012. City Council, Kigali, Rwanda

2012. Nil Forum, Kigali, Rwanda

2012. Center for Conflict Management, Huye, Rwanda

2010. Water Forum, Hong Kong, China

2010. International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Beijing, China

2009. International Science & Technology Book Fair, Pyongyang, North Korea

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Patrick T. Augenstein (Dr.)

Patrick T. Augenstein is a filmmaker and scientist. Political ecology paired with the technique of repeat photography composes his primary investigative perspective. Focusing on researching and communicating the lessons of ecosystem restoration for almost a decade, he has worked in more than 20 countries with distinct socio-ecological settings across the globe. This includes investigations into the rehabilitation of agricultural lands on the Loess Plateau in China, water catchment regeneration surrounding Port Elizabeth in South Africa, reforestation efforts in North Korea, quarry rehabilitation in Kenya, and community afforestation in the Peruvian Andes.

Currently, he is a associated scientific at Development Geography Department - Bonn University, Germany. In 2017, he has obtained his PhD at the artec - Sustainability Research Center of Bremen University, Germany.

While holding the position of the Science Research Director at the Environmental Education Media Project in China (EEMP, 2009-2015), the organization received the Communications Award from the Society of Ecological Restoration, and its film on ecosystem restoration won Best Documentary in the Montana Film Festival.

Together with the UNEP, UNCCD and the IUCN, among other multinational organizations, he has produced and directed films including Miyun - Watershed Restoration for China’s Capital (2013), The Promise of the Commons (2014), Forest for the Future (2015), the re-discovery of humanity - ecosystem restoration and migration (2016) and the end of famine (2018). He has just recently finished working on a documentary on droughts in the anthropocene, called When the sky ran dry, financed by the UNCCD and UNU (2018).