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National Film and Television School

IWFF Announces the Award Winners of the 2022 International Wildlife Film Festival
from IWFF
April 2022



Congratulations to the IWFF 45 award winning films.

Congratulations to the filmmakers who received awards!! The 75 selections of this year's festival are all worthy of awards and accolades.

The 45th International Wildlife Film Festival today announced the winners of the 2022 event. One winner was selected in each of 12 categories with additional jury awards for deserving films.

This years jury was made up of Roshan Patel, Resident filmmaker & Photographer at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institut, Erim Gómez, Assistant professor of wildlife biology at the University of Montana and Colleen Thurston, Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and a current Sundance Indigenous Film Fellow.

“I don't know if the exhilaration in the air was from being at an actual film festival with special guests and Q&As again but the 2022 line-up seemed to sparkle with energy, resilience, curiosity, and creativity,” says IWFF Director Carrie Richer. “This year's winners span the globe and demonstrate exceptional filmmaking. Our awardees exemplify scrappy, bold work and that grit has been a value of IWFF's for 45 years now.”

Special awards screenings of select winning films will happen at The Roxy Theater on Saturday, April 30th. The majority of the selections and award winners from the 45th Annual IWFF are available to watch during the IWFF Virtual Festival which runs from May 1-7, online and available worldwide. Virtual tickets and festival information are available at wildlifefilms.org.

2022 International Wildlife Film Festival Trailer


2022 International Wildlife Film Festival Winners

Best of Festival Award

The Territory
Director: Alex Pritz
Producers: Darren Aronofsky & Romain Bessi
Brazil, Denmark, United States
93 mins

The film provides an immersive on-the-ground look at the tireless fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by illegal settlers and an association of non-native farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. With awe-inspiring cinematography showcasing the titular landscape, and richly textured sound design, the film takes audiences deep into the Uru-eu-wau-wau community, and provides unprecedented access to the settlers illegitimately clearing land and a network of desperate farmers advocating for access to colonize the protected rainforest.

Audience Award

Tracking Notes: The Secret World of Mountain Lions
Director: Colin Ruggiero
United States
90 mins

A unique, non-invasive, mountain lion study uses a giant network of trail cameras scattered throughout the mountains over a decade to piece together the life story of a female mountain lion. This film weaves clips of mountain lions and their complex interactions with each other and the rest of the forest world into a story that contains never-before-captured events and behaviors at every turn. Filmed on MPG Ranch near Missoula, MT.

Best Short Short

La Voz del Mar: Hope for Hawksbill Turtles
Director: Jon Bougher
Produced by Emic Films
United States
7mins 36 secs

Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered globally, and for many years it was believed they had disappeared from El Salvador. Today, grassroots conservation is delivering renewed hope for hawksbills. Each year, tens of thousands of hatchlings now begin their amazing life journey.

Best Short

Deveaux Bank: Reflections of a Cultural Ornithologist
Directed & Produced by: Andy Johnson and Tom Swartwout
Produced by: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
United States
10 mins

In May 2019, a biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources made a monumental discovery: 20,000 Whimbrel (a threatened and rapidly declining migratory shorebird) roosting together in a single flock on Deveaux Bank: a treeless sandbar 20 miles south of Charleston. This spectacle—a flock representing half of the species’ entire Atlantic Flyway population—was hiding in plain sight, gathered each night during Spring migration. Dr. J. Drew Lanham gives his perspective on this monumental discovery.

Best Feature

Fire of Love
Director: Sarah Dosa
Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, and Sara Dosa
Sandbox Films, Intuitive Pictures, and Cottage M productions.
France, United States
93 mins

Intrepid French scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft devoted their lives to uncovering the mystery of volcanoes, chasing fire around the world and in the process capturing some of the most spectacular imagery of the earth ever recorded. Told through the lenses of this magnetic couple, FIRE OF LOVE is a visual romance that takes place on an intimate and awesome scale, exploring how their shared passion enabled pioneering research in the 1970s and 80s that helped save lives, but ultimately ended their own. Directed by Sara Dosa and narrated by Miranda July, this lyrical archival collage pulls from hundreds of hours of rare and never-before-seen footage and photographs shot by the Kraffts, channeling the humor, affection, and insatiable curiosity that was integral to their partnership and which left behind a legacy that has forever enriched our understanding of the natural world.

Best Series

Wildlife Warrior Series
Director: Johann Vorster
Producer: Paula Kahumbu and Wildlife Direct
28 mins

3 half-hour episodes on wildlife in Kenya, made by Kenyans. The Wildlife Warrior series explores animals, humans, and plants are all connected and dependent on each other for survival. This collection features the beautiful bats, rhinos, and elephants of Sambaru. For ages 5+

Best Student Film

Director: Johnny Holder
Producers: Johnny Holder, Pablo Camacho
United States
24 mins

Sonora is an experiential short documentary that explores the human sensory connection to nature through the mind of Juan Pablo Culasso, a blind birder in Colombia.

Best Youth Program

The Royal Elephants of Samburu
Director: Johann Vorster
Producer: Paula Kahumbu and Wildlife Direct
28 mins

This episode of the Wildlife Warrior Series tells a fantastic story through the eyes of David Daballen, Head of Field Operations at Save the Elephants.

Best New Vision Film

Directors: Joel Penner, Anna Sigrithur
20 mins

A stunning visual exploration of matter in various states of microbial transformation begs fundamental questions about human cultures’ complicated relationships with other species.

Best Living With Wildlife Program

Returning Home
Directors: Sean Stiller
Producers: Tim Joyce, Gilles Gagnier, Andrew Lovesey
Produced by Canadian Geographic magazine
72 mins

Canada’s Indian residential school legacy and the decimation of wild pacific salmon stem from a common story: a world where relationships are severed in the service of power, where people become detached from one another and the complex webs of interdependence. Among the Secwépemc in British Columbia, one such story is Phyllis Jack-Webstad, a residential school survivor whose experiences inspired the Orange Shirt Day movement. Returning Home follows Phyllis on a nation-wide education tour, while her family struggles to heal multigenerational wounds at home in Secwépemc territory. In the midst of a global pandemic and the lowest salmon run in Canadian history, the film also explores the absence of salmon along the upper Fraser River, and how a multi-year fishing moratorium is tearing at the fabric of Secwépemc communities. By observing the trauma experienced by Phyllis and her family, Returning Home holds a mirror to the trauma experienced by the natural world, too. For the Secwépemc, healing people and healing the natural world are one and the same.

Best Animal Behavior Program

My Garden of a Thousand Bees
Director: David Allen
Narrated and filmed by Martin Dohrn
Producer: Gaby Bastyra
A production of Passion Planet, the WNET Group, and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios in association with Ammonite Films.
United Kingdom
52 mins

A veteran wildlife cameraman is bee obsessed. Seeking refuge from the pandemic in a small city garden he is filming the wild bees that live there with mind-blowing results. From giant bumblebees to scissor bees the size of a mosquito, he has seen over 60 species of bee. But more importantly, he is developing a close relationship with an individual bee he follows through its entire life.

Best Sustainable Planet Category

The Territory
Director: Alex Pritz Producers: Darren Aronofsky & Romain Bessi
Brazil, Denmark, US

Best Wildlife Conservation Program

K?`K’ETÌ: Walking With Caribou
Director: Chad Galloway
Producer: Tammy Steinwand-Deschambeault
24 mins

The Bathurst caribou herd have roamed Canada’s arctic since time immemorial. Tragically, in just the last 30 years, their population has dropped from half a million to less than ten thousand. The T???ch? people have an intimate connection with the Bathurst. The herd has been a source of food, clothing and deep culture. However, a future without the Bathurst has become a very real possibility.

Special Jury Award

Son of Monarchs
Director: Alexis Gambis
Producers: Maria Altamirano & Abraham Dayan
98 mins

After his grandmother’s death, a Mexican biologist living in New York returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic monarch butterfly forests of Michoacán, for the first time in many years. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his new hybrid identity, sparking a personal and spiritual metamorphosis.

Jury Statement: Son of Monarchs is a timely story of a Mexican biologist, Mendel (Tenoch Huerta), who is living in New York but returns home to the state of Michoacan after his grandmother's passing. Mendel's journey parallels the life history and challenges of Monarchs. The jury recognizes this film for its creative use of Monarch as a metaphor, artistic style, and its depiction of Latinos scientists conducting innovative research while capturing the human experience.

Special Jury Award

Presented to Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Jury Statement: Wildlife Warriors is a refreshing and much-needed perspective in wildlife media. It shares stories of community based conservation and is created, authored and voiced from within the community. Dr. Paula Kahumbu is the guiding voice throughout, as the series host. As a leading wildlife conservationist, Dr. Kahumbu serves as a role model for Wildlife Warriors' audience of school aged children - and beyond. The jury recognizes her enormous contribution within the field of wildlife television with a Special Jury Award for Presenter or Host.

Special Jury Award

Presented to Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Jury Statement: In Deveaux Bank: Reflections of a Cultural Ornithologist, we met Dr. J. Drew Lanham. His unique perspective and dynamic storytelling offer a glimpse into the complex relationship between human history, land and wildlife conservation in this country in a truly impactful way. The jury believes Dr. Lanham's clear articulation of his unique and important perspective deserves to be recognized with a Special Jury Award.



About IWFF

Founded in 1977 at the University of Montana, IWFF is the first and longest running event of its kind. The vision of the IWFF will always be to foster an engaged, enlightened community that finds itself through cinema, and helps the planet to heal. The mission of the International Wildlife Film Festival is to promote awareness, knowledge, and understanding of wildlife, habitat, people, and nature through excellence in film.

For more information visit wildlifefilms.org

See: facebook.com/InternationalWildlifeFilmFestival, twitter.com/IntlWldFilmFest & instagram.com/wildlifefilmfest

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