Presenters & Special Guests

Kate Brooks

Opening Film –The Last Animals April 14th

Website: katebrooks.com
Twitter: @katebrooksphoto
Instagram: @katebrookphoto

Kate Brooks began working in Russia at the age of 20 while documenting daily life in the years just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her most notable work from that period was the haunting images exposing cruelty and neglect in state orphanages that were used by Human Rights Watch to campaign for orphans’ rights.

Brooks has been the recipient of numerous international awards, and her work is regularly published in American and European magazines. Her photographs have been also been exhibited in galleries and museums in Europe, the Middle East and U.S. including AIPAD, Paris Photo, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Annenberg Space for Photography, Tethys Gallery in Florence, Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Kate’s first feature film THE LAST ANIMALS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and will open IWFF this year on Saturday April 14th at 7PM at the Roxy Theater. A Q&A with Kate Brooks will follow the screening.

Ami Vitale

Website: amivitale.com
Twitter: @Amivee
Instagram: @amivitale

Ami Vitale’s journey as a photographer and filmmaker has taken her to more than 90 countries where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Vitale is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine, most recently covering the wild side of pandas and the fragile peace in Sri Lanka.

Her work is exhibited around the world in museums, galleries and are part of numerous private collections. She has garnered prestigious awards including the first Magnum Inge Morath grant along with multiple prizes from World Press Photos, the International Photographer of the Year prize, and the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting.

Now based in Montana, she continues to make films and stories of the planet’s most pressing issues and frequently gives lectures and workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Ami Vitale delivers her TedTalk style presentation entitled “Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants Now Protect Them” on Tuesday, April 17th at 7pm at the Roxy Theater.

Nate Dappen

IWFF Labs Lead Mentor

Website: natedappen.com
Twitter: @DaysEdge
Facebook: /NateDappen

Nate Dappen is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in San Diego, CA.

His images, films, books and other projects have been featured by organizations and publications like National Geographic, Vogue, The Washington Post, Scientific American, The Guardian, The World Wildlife Fund, and many others.

Along with Neil Losin, he founded the award-winning production company Day’s Edge Productions. Nate is an affiliate member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), was Collegiate Scholar of the North American Nature Photography Association and is a Fellow National member of the Explorers Club.

When Nate isn’t behind the camera, he’s in front of it. Dr. Nate Dappen frequently appears on camera as a presenter in web films, documentaries or as a talking head for shows like World’s Weirdest on National Geographic Wild.

Nate leads IWFF Labs in it’s sophomore year, with over 200 applicants and only 16 chosen, the competition for acceptance into this career-changing program was fierce. The films made by the Labs Fellows have gone to to premier at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and been featured on the National Geographic Shorts Form Showcase. Nate is also co-director of the film LAWS OF THE LIZARD which screens Wednesday April 18th at 2:15PM at the Roxy Theater.  

 

Neil Losin

IWFF Labs Lead Mentor

Website: neillosin.com
Twitter: @neillosin
Instagram: @nlosin

Neil Losin, Ph.D. is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and writer based in Miami, Florida. He has been using photography and video to tell science, natural history, conservation, and adventure stories for more than a decade. His images have won top honors in international photo competitions and have been published in dozens of books and magazines worldwide. Neil earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2012, studying the ecology, evolution, and behavior of invasive Anolis lizards in Florida and the Caribbean.

Neil co-founded Day’s Edge Productions with Nate Dappen, Ph.D. in 2012 to bring science and conservation stories to broad public audiences through creative visual media. Together, Neil and Nate produce multimedia stories for academic and non-profit clients, including National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Smithsonian Channel, National Science Foundation, California Academy of Sciences, Harvard University, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and others.

Neil is a Labs Lead Mentor and co-director of the film LAWS OF THE LIZARD which screens Wednesday April 18th at 2:15PM at the Roxy Theater.  

 

Chris Johns

Program Leader, Beyond Yellowstone, Former National Geographic Magazine Editor-In-Chief

Website: nationalgeographic.org/projects/beyond-yellowstone

Chris Johns was previously editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine. His extensive redesign of the magazine and focus on excellence in photojournalism and reporting resulted in a timely, relevant read for people looking for deeper insight into environmental and energy issues, world cultures, science, and the natural world.

Johns’s editorial efforts have been recognized with 13 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors in the past five years, most recently for Magazine of the Year and Single-Topic Issue in 2011.

Johns’s books include Valley of Life: Africa’s Great Rift (1991), Hawaii’s Hidden Treasures (1993), and Wild at Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa (2002). He wrote the foreword for In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (2004) and the introduction to the National Geographic book 100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World (October 2007).

He is currently the Program Leader at the National Geographic Society’s Beyond Yellowstone Program which uses camera traps, radio tracking, observation, and analysis to further our understanding of how living things interact across the land. Chris Johns and National Geographic support local efforts and educators on the ground to build up the next generation of wildlife stewards around Yellowstone and beyond.

Chris Johns and Joe Riis will give a free and open to the public presentation on recent work detailing pronghorn migration through Wyoming and Montana on Monday April 16th at 6PM titled NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PRESENTS TRACKING AMERICA’S WILD HEART.  

 

Joe Riis

National Geographic Photographer

Website: joeriis.com
Twitter: @joeriis
Instagram: @joeriis

Joe Riis is a wildlife biologist turned wildlife photojournalist and filmmaker known for his pioneering documentation of animal migrations in the West.

He is a Photography Fellow at National Geographic as well as the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Since 2009, he has worked on natural history photography assignments for National Geographic Magazine on five continents.

Chris Johns and Joe Riis will give a free and open to the public presentation on recent work detailing pronghorn migration through Wyoming and Montana on Monday April 16th at 6PM titled NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PRESENTS TRACKING AMERICA’S WILD HEART.  

 

Dylan D’ Haeze

14 Year Old Environmental Filmmaker

Website: kidscansavetheplanet.com/

At the age of 13, Dylan D’Haeze had a simple question. What happens when we throw plastic away? The more he learned, the more he realized how big the problem is – and the more it scared him. But rather than be afraid, he decided to do something about it! That was the beginning of the Kids Can Save The Planet documentary series. Issues that face our planet – from a kid’s perspective!

Finding the answers took him on a journey across the continent – listening to experts, and witnessing first hand some of the shocking details. The result is the award-winning documentary “Plastic Is Forever“, the first in a series of documentaries. After several screenings that have played around the world, the message is clear – kid power is the future of the planet! The movement has grown into a series of documentaries, exploring two other ‘earth-shaking’ topics… climate change, and zero waste and sustainability.

Dylan’s latest film TIPPING POINT screens at IWFF on Tuesday April 17th at 2:15 at the Roxy Theater.

 

Tom Winston

Grizzly Creek Productions

Website: grizzlycreekfilms.com
Twitter: @grizzlycrkfilms
Facebook: /Grizzly Creek

Tom is the founder and president of Grizzly Creek Films, a full service production company that has created original series and specials for The National Geographic Channel, NatGeo WILD, History Channel and PBS. His films have been winners and finalists at Wildscreen Festival, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa (2002).

He wrote the foreword for In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (2004) and the introduction to the National Geographic book 100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World (October 2007).

Tom mentors at IWFF Labs, presents a WORK-IN-PROGRESS: Path of the Panther on Thursday April 19th at noon at the Roxy Theater and screens his film MEET THE REAL WOLF on Wednesday, April 18th at 4:15PM.

 

Eric Bendick

Grizzly Creek Productions

Website: grizzlycreekfilms.com
Instagram: @bendicci
Facebook: /Frogpondian

Eric Bendick is the Series Producer and occasional unwitting stuntman for Grizzly Creek Films based in Bozeman, Montana. His writing and producing credits for broadcast, theatrical, and new media clients include National Geographic Television, PBS, History Channel, Animal Planet, Harvard University’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, Patagonia, The Cougar Fund, Yellowstone to Yukon, and TERRA: The Nature of Our World.

His work has precipitated a Webby Award, a Wildscreen Panda Award, a Best Newcomer nomination at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, and a Best Conservation Film Award from the American Conservation Film Festival.

Eric mentors at IWFF Labs and presents a WORK-IN-PROGRESS: Path of the Panther on Thursday APril 19th at noon at the Roxy Theater.  His film CANIS CORPUS COLORADO screens at 4:15pm on Wednesday, April 18th at the Roxy Theater.   

 

Max Lowe

Max Lowe Media  / Director, SKY MIGRATIONS  

Instagram: @max.lowe
Facebook: /maxlowemedia

Before he could even walk, Max was taken into the wilderness and packed along on adventures across the globe. From his home in the mountains of Montana to Antarctica, Nepal and Mongolia, he has been witness to extraordinary moments, wildlife, people and places. It was from these experiences that stemmed his drive to traverse this world, and capture moments with his camera.

Born into a renowned outdoor family, Max grew up in the mountains alongside his parents Alex and Jennifer Lowe. After Alex passed away in 1999, Conrad Anker, Alex’s best friend and climbing partner over the years, slowly became a big part of Max’s life and eventually married his mother Jennifer.

Since Max graduated from college in 2011 he has continued to live in the realm of his father and step father, as a storyteller via film and photo.

Max continues to work out of his home in Montana as a freelance filmmaker, photographer and storyteller.

Max’s film SKY MIGRATIONS will screen on Sunday, April 15th at 8:15PM at the Roxy Theater.

 

Gianna Savoie

Ocean Media Institute

Website: giannasavoie.com
Twitter: @GiannaSavoie
Facebook: /GiannaSavoie

An award-winning documentary producer and writer with over a decade of experience in Natural History filmmaking, Gianna’s work has been featured worldwide on PBS, Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the BBC among others.

Trained as an Environmental Biologist, she pairs her love of science with the art of filmmaking to craft the stories that not only inform, but deeply resonate. Her pursuit of powerful environmental storytelling has led her high over Himalayan peaks, across our mighty oceans, and deep through the Amazon basin to explore the direct connections between humans and the natural world.

Gianna leads a Saturday workshop – NONPROFIT AND FILMMAKER TOWNHALL NETWORKING EVENT at the Dunrovin Ranch starting at 11A. More details on how to sign up at wildlifefilms.org

 

Jeff Reed

Chief Operating Officer, Ocean Media Institute

Website: www.oceanmediainstitute.org

Raised and schooled in landlocked Oklahoma, Jeff first fell in love with the ocean at 15 diving in the Florida Keys and again at 19 kayaking Alaska’s inside passage…then again at 22 working abroad in New Zealand. Really, Jeff falls for the ocean every time he sees it. He made a break for the West Coast in 2010 but only made it half way, ending up in Montana to learn how to produce and shoot Science and Natural History films. He has since had the pleasure of working on films for all sorts for companies like National Geographic, PBS, Smithsonian, and WHOI as well as many other independents and non-profits. Jeff also works to design and build interactive tech to help teach about our world.

Jeff will lead a Saturday workshop with Gianna Savoie – NONPROFIT AND FILMMAKER TOWNHALL NETWORKING EVENT at the Dunrovin Ranch starting at 11A. More details on how to sign up at wildlifefilms.org

 

Bob Landis

IWFF Retrospective Artist

The former teacher now veteran wildlife filmmaker, Bob Landis is possibly best known for his cinematography for the 50-minute documentary IN THE VALLEY OF THE WOLVES that compresses three years of filming in Yellowstone National Park. But his wildlife images have been used in many other films produced by such prestigious titles as Nature and National Geographic.

The IWFF celebrates 40 years of his work in a retrospective beginning with a opening keynote presentation on Saturday April 14th at 5PM and films playing throughout the festival.

 

Niobe Thompson

IWFF Finalist Judge / Clear Water Documentary

Instagram: @niobe_thompson
Facebook: /niobethompson

A Cambridge-trained anthropologist turned filmmaker, Niobe works on both sides of the camera and is known for his fascination with the human journey, from our evolutionary origins to the present day. He has a reputation for turning his body into a living laboratory, bringing science to life in ways that delight, inspire and often shock his audiences. He is as comfortable chatting with Siberian reindeer nomads and breath-hold diving with Badjao free divers as he is filming heart and lung transplant surgeries.

Working with director Alexandra Lazarovich, Niobe is presently producing a short documentary for CBC Digital on women wildfire fighters in the Canadian North.  He is also producing and directing Equus, an ambitious new three-part science and nature series exploring the horse in human history, premiering in 2018.

He is co-founder of Canadian based Clearwater media.

Niobe will serve as a final judge, IWFF Labs Mentor and serve on panels throughout the week at IWFF.  His film THE PERFECT RUNNER will screen at 7:30 on Thursday April 19th at the Roxy Theater.

 

Nigel Pope

IWFF Finalist Judge  / Maramedia

Website: www.maramedia.co.uk

Instagram: @mara_media
Twitter: @nigpope

Nigel Pope is a Scotland based video producer who founded leading independent TV production company Maramedia that specializes in wildlife filmmaking.

His critically-acclaimed BBC Scotland series Hebrides – Islands on the Edge was narrated by Ewan McGregor and nominated for BAFTA, Jackson Hole and Wildscreen Awards, winning the prestigious PANDA award for Best Series in 2014. Together with its sequel, Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart, the two series have been sold in over 100 countries across the globe.

Pope is currently working on an ambitious landmark project in 4K, Wild Way of the Vikings and following on from the worldwide success of Hebrides and Highlands, the third in the Maramedia trilogy takes us on an epic journey to Scotland’s northernmost archipelago: Shetland.

Nigel will serve as a final judge, IWFF Labs Mentor and serve on panels throughout the week at IWFF.  His films HOTEL ARMADILLO will screen at 5:45 on Wednesday April 18th and GUDRUN THE VIKING PRINCESS on Saturday April 21st at 11A at the Roxy Theater.

 

Eddie Roqueta

Video Editor at Mongabay  / Director, MEXICAN FISHING BATS

Website: mongabay.org
Instagram: @eddieroqueta
Facebook: /eddie.roqueta

Eddie Roqueta is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker with a passion for telling stories about wildlife conservation and environmental issues. He has an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University.  

Eddie Roqueta is a director and producer, known for Silencing the Thunder (2014), Toad To Nowhere (2016) and The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards

His work has screened to great acclaim at numerous wildlife and environmental film festivals. Through various National Geographic grant projects, Roqueta has had the opportunity to film unique animal species and stories about complex wildlife problems around the world.

Eddie will serve on various panels throughout IWFF and his film MEXICAN FISHING BATS screens on Sunday April 15th at 8:15PM at the Roxy Theater.

 

Shane Campbell-Staton

The Biology of Superheroes Podcast

Website: thebiologyofsuperheroespodcast.podbean.com

Shane Campbell-Staton is an evolutionary biologist who studies physiological and genomic adaptation to climate change. Much of his work focuses on how human activity, from climate change to urbanization, shapes evolution in wild populations. He currently works as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montana and will soon join the faculty of UCLA as a tenure-track assistant professor.

In addition to his research, Shane also has a passion for science communication. His most recent project, The Biology of Superheroes Podcast, combines science fiction with modern research to explore the limits of form and function in the natural world. This podcast started as a small course he taught as a graduate student at Harvard University. Now, in collaboration with Arien Darby, The Biology of Superheroes Podcast merges the nerd multiverse to find the science in the fiction when it comes to superheroes, giant monsters, cyborgs, zombies and other incredible sci-fi topics.

Shane and Arien Darby will participate in a live Recording with UM Biology Professor Doug Emlen and look at the superpowers of Hellboy through the lens of biology. THE BIOLOGY OF SUPERHEROES – Tuesday, April 17th at 2pm at The Roxy Theater.  

 

Arien Darby

The Biology of Superheroes Podcast

Website: thebiologyofsuperheroespodcast.podbean.com

Arien Darby is a 10-year entertainment professional by day, and comic book-reading, videogame-playing, Netflix-consuming pop-culturist by night. Over the course of his career he has worked with a variety of properties including Marvel, DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and more. Infatuated with the intersect of where geek culture meets mainstream, Arien believes in the universal power of great storytelling and is passionate about sharing tales that bring inspiration, joy, and a little bit of laughter to the world.

Blessed with a voracious appetite for literature at an early age, Arien first fell in love with comic books after reading X-Men issue #25 in 1993, which featured a classic battle for the ages between Magneto and Wolverine. There’s just something captivatingly age-inappropriate about witnessing a supervillain rip the adamantium from a hero’s body that changes a young boy’s life trajectory forever, ya know?

Ready to take on the world and armed with his favorite Marvel superheroes poster in tow, Arien entered collegiate undergrad dorm life feeling destined for success and popularity. Indeed, it was in the hallowed halls of that very same upstate New York university that he first encountered Shane Campbell-Staton, thus kindling a lifelong friendship and the beginning of something more to come in the future. Now, in the full Spidey-swing of adulthood, Arien recognizes that with great power truly comes great responsibility. Emboldened by a strong desire to share their respective passions with the world, Shane and Arien have teamed-up for a crossover story of epic proportions – The Biology of Superheroes Podcast – and the rest is now history in the making.

Arien currently lives in the greater Los Angeles area with his girlfriend Michelle (go figure?) in an apartment that isn’t quite large enough to house the few hundred standalone comic book issues she doesn’t know about (Shhhhh… our little secret!). And, although the poster no longer adorns a wall (#adulting), the passion for all things superhero and sci-fi remains.

Arien and Shane Campbell Staton will participate in a live Recording with UM Biology Professor Doug Emlen and podcasters look at the superpowers of Hellboy through the lens of biology. THE BIOLOGY OF SUPERHEROES – Tuesday, April 17th at 2pm at The Roxy Theater.  

 

Collin Monda

Director / Producer  – The Trouble With Wolves

Website: TheTroubleWithWolves.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetroublewithwolves

Collin Monda is a native northwest filmmaker working in documentary, narrative, and animated formats, often pulling from all of them within the same film. His recent work has focused on our relationship with nature, and finding truth in the complex realism that sits between destructive political divides. He is currently exploring the other coast, living in Brooklyn.

Collin will be participating in a Q&A with the audience following the free screening of The Trouble with Wolves on Monday, April 16th at 6pm at the UC Theater at the University of Montana campus.

 

Carol Fleisher

IWFF Finalist Judge/Producer, Rocky Mountain PBS

Website: https://www.fleisherfilm.com/

Carol Fleisher is currently a producer for Rocky Mountain PBS and the Science Media & Awards Summitt in The Hub (SMASH). She has produced content for networks such at National Geographic, NBC, Discovery, A&E, NOVA and Animal Planet. She is one of only two documentary filmmakers to be honored with the prestigious Humanitas Prize for two consecutive years. Her work has also garnered eight Cine Golden Eagles, a Golden Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival, a Gold Award from the Houston Film Festival, two Genesis Awards and two Emmy Awards. She is also a professor at Fort Lewis College in Colorado and has been an integral part of helping students in Durango make science and natural history centered films.

Carol will serve as a finalist judge for the 2018 IWFF awards.

Andrew Howley

Communications Director, Adventure Scientists

Andrew Howley is Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, a nonprofit organization that equips partners with field data crucial to addressing environmental challenges. By recruiting, training, and managing a global network of specialized volunteers from the outdoor adventure community, they are uniquely able to gather difficult-to-obtain data at any scale, in any environment.
Over 11 years at National Geographic, Andrew produced and edited the Society’s home page, helped build one of the world’s largest social media followings on the flagship Facebook account, and wrote or edited hundreds of blog posts by and about explorers in the field. He’s walked 70 miles across the Sonoran Desert with conservationist Mike Fay, dived in the Pitcairn Islands with the National Geographic Pristine Seas team, and produced live daily coverage on Lee Berger and his team’s excavation of Homo naledi fossils in South Africa.

Andrew will participate on the panel OUR WILD FUTURE DIALOGUE: The Citizen Scientist Connection on Monday, April 16th at 12pm, as well as OUR WILD FUTURE DIALOGUE:  The Future of Natural History & Science Storytelling in the Digital Landscape Tuesday, April 17 at 12pm. Both panels will be held at the Roxy Theater.

Steven Bedard

Editor-in-Chief, bioGraphic

Website: biographic.com

Twitter: @steventbedard

Steven Bedard is the Editor-in-Chief of bioGraphic, an editorially independent digital magazine created to showcase both the wonder of nature and the most promising approaches to sustaining life on Earth.

A former field biologist who spent the early 90s studying spotted owls and northern goshawks, Bedard has spent the past 20 years working as a science journalist and media producer, creating content for magazines, websites, museum exhibits, and mobile platforms.

Now with bioGraphic, he and his team and an army of talented freelancers use an ever-evolving array of storytelling tools and techniques to introduce readers to some of the world’s most intriguing creatures and inspiring people, and to transport them to faraway places—where they can experience what it’s like to be there and appreciate what’s at stake for those involved.