2021 Festival Awards



 April 30, 20201

Contact: Carrie Richer
  Artistic Director
[email protected]

International Wildlife Film Festival
April 17-May 15


IWFF Announces Award Winners for the 2021 International Wildlife Film Festival

The 2021 IWFF Awards announcement took place on Friday, April 30 during a Pop-up Installation at the First Montana Bank building in downtown Missoula.

In a year of finding unique solutions, the International Wildlife Film Festival announced the award winners for its 44th festival as part of a Pop-up Installation. Winning titles were projected onto the First Montana Bank building in downtown Missoula on Friday evening under the big Montana sky. The winners of the festival were chosen from over 300 submissions. The sixty-five 2021 films were selected by an international jury consisting of filmmakers, producers, field biologists, conservationists, cinephiles, teachers, and University of Montana graduate students  specializing in environmentally-focused or wildlife biology studies. A jury of three Final Judges made the final decisions for 11 categories, the Best of Festival award, and any special consideration awards. The 2021 Final Judges--Janet Han Vissering, Senior Vice President of development and production at National Geographic Wild,  Ami Vitale, Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic Magazine photographer and filmmaker, and writer and curator Pipaluk Lykke--selected the winners.

For the first time in IWFF’s 44-year history, a student film was selected for the Best of Festival Award. UK filmmaker George Pretty's Life on the Rocks short film tells the important tale of an ancient volcanic island, home to the world’s largest colony of gannets: the Bass Rock. For three years in the 1960s, June Nelson and her late husband Bryan called it their home, studying the birds and their behaviors. The short film is built around June's reflections on experiences with her late husband among the gannets.

This film encompasses so much of what IWFF stands for in its homage to impactful scientific research while grounding the film in the humanity of June Nelson's stories of the past,says IWFF Artistic Director Carrie Richer. “The impeccable black-and-white cinematography is a testament to the many years George Pretty put in as a camera assistant before getting his Masters.”


All winning films from the 44th International Wildlife Film Festival are listed below. Viewers can watch  Life on The Rocks including a conversation with George Pretty, among other IWFF selections, until May 15th. Single tickets, 5-punch,10-punch, and Full Passes are available. The festival closes with one more Pop-up installation at Caras Park on May 14th, 8-10pm.
Visit wildlifefilms.org to get in on the fun. 


2021 International Wildlife Film Festival Winners

Best of Festival Award

WINNER: Life On The Rocks by George Pretty

Short Short - A short film under 10 minutes in length.

WINNER: Gamechangers: The Football Team Scoring Conservation Goals

Short -  A short film under 40 minutes in length.
WINNER: Nest 38

Feature - A program 60 minutes or longer in length made for reaching audiences through theaters, the internet, or television.

WINNER: Entangled

Series - A series is three or more programs of any length made for reaching audiences through theaters, the internet, or television. 

WINNER: A Perfect Planet

Student - Any program made while the filmmaker was enrolled in an academic institution. Finalists must verify enrollment.

WINNER: Life on The Rocks 

Children’s - Any program that engages a deeper understanding of the natural world and wildlife in younger viewers (ages 3-16). 

WINNER: Sea Lions: Life by a Whisker

New Vision - Any program that displays an innovative, forward-thinking interpretation to filmmaking within this traditional genre offering a new vision of what wildlife filmmaking can be and how these stories are told.

WINNER: Under Review: Katahdin

Living with Wildlife - Any program that focuses on the complex and interdependent relationship between humans, animals, and the environment.

WINNER: Home For All

Animal Behavior - Any program that includes especially notable footage of animal behavior that is rare, impactful in terms of our understanding of the natural world or was captured using innovative techniques.

WINNER: Leopard Legacy

Wildlife Conservation - A program with a strong conservation message that follows the future of a species, highlights newfound biological research, represents the scientific process accurately and presents solutions for the betterment of wildlife sustainability.

WINNER: After the Wildfires

Sustainable Planet 

A program focused on our current climate crisis and its impacts on our natural world. Films may address growing public awareness and education, experimenting with innovative solutions or profiling activism toward a more sustainable planet.

WINNER: River’s End

Special Jury Awards  

The 2021 Final Jury awarded two films special recognitions beyond the established IWFF categories for their displays of excellence in the field.

 The Snow Leopard Calling 

This short film is a powerful reminder that a small group of individuals can change the world. Sonam and Tshiring lead a new generation of filmmakers capturing our world's imperiled landscape with the hope that resilience can affect the natural world. These filmmakers are asking some of the biggest and most important questions and deserve to be recognized.

 The Condor and the Eagle 

From Alaska to the Amazon, this film reminds us all that the impacts of climate change are felt first and most profoundly by indigenous groups and women. In an era of ever-present stories of environmental decline and catastrophe, this film reminds us that the greatest source of hope is found in ordinary people speaking in unison to demand that the health of our planet, our home, be made a priority. 

About IWFF

IWFF exists to champion wildlife filmmakers and inspire a new generation to challenge conventional expectations about how we conserve wildlife and habitat. Founded in 1977 at the University of Montana IWFF is the first and longest-running event of its kind. In 2002, the festival purchased the historic Roxy Theater as its home. In 2013 The Roxy launched its year-round screening series and began an extensive collaboration with the university, businesses, and community, serving a diverse, all-ages population with broad programming. IWFF embraces its home inside The Roxy Theater and as the heart of the Missoula community.