Some years become pivotal moments in history - 2020 was one of those years. We all demonstrated agility, resilience, and creativity in many ways. With our 2021 final jury, we acknowledge three inspiring colleagues who encompass the forward momentum toward a promising new era. We are thrilled to announce these esteemed jurors, who will determine this year's category winners, Best of Festival Awardee, and any special jury awards.

Special thanks to our anonymous 16-person preliminary jury who helped to make the festival selections. The IWFF preliminary jury is made up of biologists, community members, filmmakers, professors, journalists, graduate students, conservationists, and teachers.

Janet Han Vissering (credit: National Geographic)

Janet Han Vissering

As senior vice president of development and production at National Geographic, Janet Han Vissering oversees the entire natural history slate and animal content across the channel, Nat Geo WILD, and Disney+. She is responsible for more than 200 hours of programming commissioned each year. In this role, Vissering manages the development teams, working with the world’s leading independent producers, distributors, creative agencies, and strategic broadcast partners.

Previously, she was SVP of strategic development and co-finance for seven years. Prior to acquiring her current position, Vissering served as VP of international acquisitions at National Geographic Channels International from 1998 to 2000 after working at Discovery Networks International, where she was head of program acquisitions and development from 1995 to 1998. At Discovery, Vissering was a regional marketing manager for The Learning Channel, Affiliate Sales, and Relations, in 1993. A graduate of the University of Maryland in College Park with a major in international relations/business, Vissering is a native of Korea and speaks Korean fluently.


Ami Vitale

Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic Magazine photographer and filmmaker Ami Vitale based in Missoula has worked in more than 100 countries, bearing witness not only to violence and conflict but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. In 2009, after shooting a powerful story on the transport and release of one of the world’s last northern white rhinos, Ami shifted her focus to today’s most compelling wildlife and environmental stories.

Instyle Magazine named Ami one of fifty Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up and get things done.  She has been named Magazine Photographer of the year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting, and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, among others. She is a five-time recipient of World Press Photos and published a best-selling book, Panda Love, on the secret lives of pandas. Vitale is Chairperson for National Geographic's Photography Advisory Board.  She lectures for the National Geographic LIVE series and she frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Photo Pipaluk Lykke

Pipaluk Lykke

Pipaluk Lykke has worked as a curator of exhibitions in art and science, is a published writer, and an experienced project developer, manager, and cultural worker of international scale. Her number one rule is to involve, engage, and participate with her peers and the people she works with. She is a cultural consultant on Inuit culture, and Greenlandic culture in particular, on documentaries, and animated films. Lykke works predominantly in the fields where culture, science, and art meet. She is a trained teacher, holds an MA in Social and Cultural Studies. She lives in Nuuk, Greenland, is an avid dog musher, has Inuit background, and is a former board member of The Nordic Institute in Greenland. She was part of the featured filmmaking team and a guest of IWFF with the Arctic Nomads project, an IWFF 2019 selection.