Montana Department of Commerce Grant Brings Filmmakers to IWFF

HELENA, Mont. – In support of the 40th annual International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, the Montana Department of Commerce and Montana Film Office have granted the festival funding to bring filmmakers to the state to participate in a variety of events.

Two grants totaling $10,000 will be used to support the festival’s special events that draw visitors from across Montana. It will also help pay for three filmmakers to participate in the festival and learn more about Montana for potential future projects.

Visiting filmmakers:

  • Justin Anderson produced the BBC’s Planet Earth 2 episode “Mountains,” which was filmed in-part in Yellowstone National Park with local filmmakers John Shier and Dawson Dunning. Anderson has been working on documentary projects for 18 years for the BBC, Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
  • Zackery Rago and Stacey Piculell produced “Chasing Coral,” a documentary that took home the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. The documentary will open the International Wildlife Film Festival on April 15. Rago will also spend time speaking with Missoula elementary school students.

Learn more about the 40th International Wildlife Film Festival here.


When it comes to wildlife films, bigger usually means better.

Megafauna have no problem attracting the attention of filmmakers or audiences. If that’s your flavor, the 40th International Wildlife Film Festival has plenty of films about big creatures: Take your pick with feature-length films like “Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants,” “Gray Area: Wolves of the Southwest,” or “Operation Whale” (which is actually about sharks gathering around a whale carcass.)

And regarding the scale of a film, it doesn’t get bigger than the screenings of “Planet Earth 2,” the BBC’s blockbuster series. Montanans who haven’t seen it yet should take note: the second episode, “Mountains,” features work filmed in Yellowstone National Park by Montana filmmakers John Shier and Dawson Dunning.

While the larger features and creatures naturally draw your eye, film festivals are populated with short films, and in IWFF’s case, short films about smaller critters that are just as intriguing as bigger films.

All screenings take place at the Roxy Theater. For tickets and more information, go to

“Archives of Extinction,” 12 min. Directed by Alyse Takayesu

Friday, April 21, 3:45 p.m.

A narrator reads field notes circa 1901 about a collector shooting a rare species of Hawaiian bird, as viewers see row after row of drawers containing gorgeous dead specimens of island birds.

Initially, you may be saddened. However, viewers soon learn that with the mass extinction that’s occurred with island birds, those collectors may have provided one of the few examples of the species that still exists for scientists.

Alyse Takayesu’s quiet film, which makes excellent use of field recordings, pays a visit to the archives of extinct birds, and contemplates the cost they paid and the future information they can contribute: A scientist discussing gene studies that could someday allow the birds to be revived, as he says, “reconstructing valuable roles we see the environment needing now.”

“Running Wild,” 7 min., Daniel Schmidt

Friday, April 21, 4 p.m.

Ultra-runners, athletes who’ve trained their bodies to span up to a hundred miles at a time, often face an ethical quandary: They’ve dedicated countless hours to a pursuit that can seem selfish.

Some ultra-runners found a way to apply their rare abilities to a greater cause in Utah. In February 2014, a camera in the Uinta Mountains of Utah spied a wolverine. The sighting could indicate that the elusive species was expanding its range south, a phenomenon that begged to be confirmed and studied.

A group called Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation set up a series of cameras spanning 80 miles in the remote range in hopes of sighting more wolverines. The problem is that they needed people who could visit all those cameras to retrieve footage and traps. Two ultra-runners eager to turn their passion for a greater good step in.

“Microsculpture,” 6 min., Tanya Cochran

Monday, April 17, 7 p.m.

Levon Biss, a commercial photographer in England, landed his largest museum show through his smallest subjects: insects. Shooting images of bugs with microscope lenses was initially a hobby for Biss, until he approached the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, which houses the second largest insect collection in Britain. They were impressed by the level of detail in the photos, which are stitched together from thousands of individual photos. (He explains how he individually lights each antennae). The museum then partners with Biss for a show of photographs blown up to larger proportions than he ever imagined.

Planet Earth 2 – Must-See Visuals, And Plenty To Think About

By Helen Young

At this year’s International Wildlife Film Festival, we will be screening the glorious and critically acclaimed ‘Planet Earth II’. In the safe hands of Sir David Attenborough, this series drew record viewing figures for the BBC last year, usurping ostensibly more crowd-pleasing shows in the ratings wars, and drawing a dedicated following in the hard-to-please younger demographics.

The accolades and adoration for ‘Planet Earth II’ are undoubtedly well deserved. Its viewing figures and the enthusiasm with which it was taken up by the wider public is, perhaps, a testament to our increased awareness of the environment and environmental issues. Most agreed that the work done here has been exemplary – although there has been some disagreement. Martin Hughes-Games, presenter of rival BBC wildlife show ‘Springwatch’ called the series “a disaster for the world’s wildlife” through its failure to address anthropocentric environmental damage. How many people, Hughes-Green and his supporters argue, could have been persuaded to use green energy, or donate to Greenpeace, or cut their carbon footprint had Attenborough embedded an environmental message in his series? However, what Hughes-Green called “a beautiful, beguiling fantasy world, a utopia where tigers still roam free and untroubled, where the natural world exists as if man had never been” certainly makes for wonderful viewing. If you like your wildlife shows with more wildlife and less eco-lecturing, then ‘Planet Earth II’ is a delight. The series has six episodes, focusing on different habitats:

1.   Islands

2.   Mountains

3.   Jungles

4.   Deserts

5.   Grasslands

6.   Cities

The final ten minutes or so of each hour long episode focuses on the making of an aspect of the episode. From the point of view of budding wildlife filmmakers, these are very interesting. The trials, boredom, deprivation, and camaraderie of travelling to difficult parts of the globe in order to film animals who frequently won’t play ball are displayed with humour, honesty, and affection.

Of course, the animals and the visuals are the real stars of this series. The filmography is simply breathtaking, will full advantage taken of modern technology to get close, clear shots of the animals in question. ‘Planet Earth II’ is a follow-up series to ‘Planet Earth’, Attenborough’s similarly acclaimed series released ten years prior. In a mere ten years, much has changed in the realm of film technology, and its successor makes the most of what it now has to build upon its parent. Drone footage, for example, is used to reach wildlife in areas previously only filmable from a helicopter – and, as drones are both more maneuverable and less likely to scare the wildlife than helicopters, the move more than pays off. Similarly, the team mounted a camera on the back of a trained eagle in order to give viewers a literal ‘eagle eye’ experience of an eagle’s speedy, steep flight patterns.

Then there are the creatures themselves. There is a very good reason why social media lit up with emotion when ‘Planet Earth II’ aired on a Sunday night. The animals are not only beautifully shot, their stories are wonderfully told. A particular sequence involving baby sea iguanas and racer snakes is simply a stunning piece of television, which had hearts in mouths all over the world. A tale of two snow leopards, told via camera trap footage, gives an insight into both the habits, the precarious lives, and the elusivity of these incredible beasts.

‘Planet Earth II’ will undoubtedly to prove influential in the world of wildlife filming for many years to come. Definitely worth watching.

Interns Needed for IWFF 40!

Our awesomely fun and incredibly entertaining team at IWFF is in need of some hard-hitting interns!

Looking for the following:








If you’re interested in finding out more about these internship opportunities – email [email protected].


Submissions Are Open!

Submissions for the 40th International Wildlife Film Festival are now open currently being accepted.

Earlybird Deadline: November 18, 2016

Regular Deadline: January 6, 2017

The longest running wildlife film festival in the world, IWFF was founded in Missoula, Montana as a watchdog and guardian of scientific and factual accuracy, ethical film practices and creative excellence in the craft of the wildlife film genre.

In 2017 the IWFF will continue it’s tradition of focusing on filmmakers by introducing new immersive workshops, mentorships and exciting new events for our 40th year.

Submit now!

What’s Happening in the Wild – April 23, 2016

Congratulations to the IWFF 39 award winning films

We are pleased to announce the Award Winners for the 2016 International Wildlife FIlm Festival. The 2016 IWFF Awards took place on Friday, April 22 at  Missoula’s Wilma Theater. Some of the award-winning films will re-screen tonight in special screening blocks at 5, 6, 7 and 8:00pm

Islands Of Creation
Nathan DappenStudent
Medieval Monsters
Oliver MuellerIndependent
Moose: A Year in The Life of a Twig Eater
Susan FlemingTheatrical Feature
The Messenger
Su Rynard

Broadcast Feature
Oliver Goetzl

Broadcast Series
Animal Homes
Ann Johnson Prum

Human Wildlife Interaction
Muerte Es Vida (Death Is Life)
Ali Alvarez

Unnatural Selection
Steve Nicholls & Sarah WhalleyConservation
Red Wolf Revival
Roshan PatelChildren & Young Adults
A Life In A Day
L. Collin ScottCinematography
Soul Of The Elephant
Dereck Joubert

Gardeners of Forest
Ceylan Carhoglu

Best Short
Red Wolf Revival
Roshan Patel

Best of Fest
The Messenger
Su Rynard

Tonight we will be rescreening some of the award winners. You can buy tickets at The Roxy Theater or online here.
Award Winning Films Screenings

Yellowstone – 55 min. (Broadcast Feature)
Moose: A Year In The Life Of Twig Eater – 60 min. (Independent)

Medieval Monsters 10 min. (Student)
Gardeners Of The Forest  15min. (Best Editing)
Soul Of The Elephant 53 min. (Best Cinematography)

7:00 pm
Red Wolf Revival – 15 min. (Best Short & Conservation)
The Messenger – 90 min (Best of Fest & Theatrical Feature)

How To Let Go Of The World – 126 min. (Encore Presentation)

Showing Today

11:00 am: Living with Carnivores & Nile – The Ultimate River
11:15 am: Living With Coyote & Wild Canada: The Eternal Frontier
11:30 am: Joe & Brazil – A Natural History
12:45 pm: Salmon Heart of the Forest & The Sagebrush Sea
1:00 pm: Ulin & Unnatural Selection
1:15 pm: The Wolf OR-7 Expedition
2:30 pm: Medieval Monsters & Planet Parrot
3:00 pm: A Life in the Day & EO Wilson: Of Ants and Men
3:30 pm: Power of Nature: Elephants & Making an Ancient Forest
5:00, 6:00. 7:00 & 8:00 pm: Awards Screenings (see listings above)
5:30 & 7:30 pm: Racing Extinction & Power of Nature: Wolves

Living with Carnivores: Boneyards, Bears and Wolves
A documentary film about living with large carnivores. The story begins a decade ago in western Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley and explores how a rural agricultural community responded to the resurgence of grizzly bears and wolves. The film explores the thoughtful “can do” approach of Montana ranchers who realized that the age old practice of dumping dead livestock onto “boneyards” was destined to spell trouble by attracting grizzly bears and wolves onto ranches resulting in poor outcomes for wildlife and ranchers. Buy Tickets

Nile – The Ultimate River – Ep. 1: Mountains of the Moon
In the Rwenzori mountains, the wide source area of the Nile contains a spectacular feature. One snow-covered peak reaches 5000 metres (5500 yards) above sea level. Underneath its glacier, a fairy-tale forest expands, covered with Giant Lobelia and Aster plants. In this damp and cold world, the stunningly beautiful Lobelia Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird lives its life. Buy Tickets

Living With Coyote
Coyotes can quickly adapt to their ever-changing surroundings, but have humans adapted to their wild neighbors? Living With Coyote explores the relationship between man and wild through urban and rural landscapes of the American West and the people who choose to be actively involved in the hunt for coexistence. Buy Tickets

Wild Canada – Ep. 1: The Eternal Frontier
In 1497, the Italian navigator and explorer Giovanni Caboto – maybe better known under his English name John Cabot – was attempting to find a new trade route to China. Instead, he and his companions arrived at the east coast of North America – and became the first Europeans since the Vikings to lay claim to this ‘New found land’. Buy Tickets

Joe Riis has the job that every child in the world dreams of: He is a celebrated National Geographic wildlife photographer. He spends his life embarking on adventures to the wildest places on Earth, often for months on end, to observe and photograph animals for National Geographic Magazine. He seemingly has the picture perfect life. Or does he? Buy Tickets

Brazil: A Natural History
This enigmatic forest once stretched along the coast for thousands of kilometres. Now there is only 7% left. Yet it is still home for many remarkable animals. Muriqui are the largest monkeys in South America. These very rare, highly social creatures greet each other with hugs – the closer the friendship, the more intense the hugs.  Buy Tickets

POWER OF NATURE: Salmon-Heart of the Forest
The Great Bear Rainforest on Canada’s Pacific Coast is the largest temperate rainforest left on Earth. Not only do these immense tracts of woodland purify our water, the ancient trees are also a valuable carbon store, helping offset the effects of climate change. Yet this forest owes its existence to an ocean-dweller – the Pacific Salmon. Buy Tickets

The Sagebrush Sea
One of the most overlooked ecosystems on the continent consists of a massive sea of sagebrush that stretches across 11 states in the American West. This spartan yet spectacular landscape supports more than 170 species of birds and mammals, including deer, eagles, hawks, prairie dogs, cranes, songbirds, badgers and rabbits . Buy Tickets

Over the past half century, the ancient lowland forests of Borneo have been destroyed at an unprecedented rate. One indigenous Dayak community has clung on to an incredible hotspot of biodiversity – a bastion of endangered ulin trees – solely, it believes, by the power of a curse. Buy Tickets

Unnatural Selection
The wings of cliff swallows in Nebraska are getting shorter while turtles in Chesapeake Bay are getting larger. On the Galapagos Islands, different species are collapsing back into one. What has happened to evolution? The answer is very simple: us. Humans have transformed the planet beyond recognition – turning grasslands and forests into fields and cities and polluting air and water. And all of these changes have altered the course of evolution, often in surprising ways. Buy Tickets

The Wolf OR-7 Expedition
The Wolf OR-7 Expedition retraced the approximate track generated by the GPS collar worn by the Oregon wolf known as Wolf OR-7. This young male grey wolf traversed over 1,200 miles through Oregon and into California, to become the first and only documented free-roaming wolf in California in nearly 90 years, and he is still out there. Buy Tickets

Medieval Monsters
The New Forest of England is an ancient world full of medieval monsters – dueling dragonflies, acid-firing ants and jousting stag beetles. Macro, slow-motion and time-lapse techniques were combined with custom-built equipment to reveal these astonishing lives. Buy Tickets

Planet Parrot
Raucous, colourful and often thousands of miles from their natural home, parrots are conquering cities around the world. They are also one of the most endangered families of birds. This colourful and entertaining film considers how and why parrots are thriving in human habitats while at the same time struggling in the wild. Buy Tickets

A Life in A Day
The life of a mayfly is an allegory of our own — you’re born, you struggle, mate, reproduce, and die — except it all happens over the course of a single day. A LIFE IN THE DAY is a four-minute animated short that reminds us that life is brief, beautiful, and meant to be enjoyed. Buy Tickets

EO Wilson: Of Ants and Men
EO Wilson: Of Ants and Men examines the remarkable life and career in science of famed Harvard biologist EO Wilson. Buy Tickets

Power of Nature: Elephants
Elephants play a crucial role in the forests of central Africa. They are expert gardeners, spreading more seeds further than any other animal. Some seeds are so big that only elephants can swallow them, and some only germinate if they have been through an elephant. So forests need elephants in order to stay healthy, productive and diverse. Buy Tickets

Making an Ancient Forest – Kalkalpen National Park
Unmanaged for over a quarter century, the forests of the Kalkalpen National Park (Austria) have relied on natural dynamics that are far more intricate and ingenious than previously imagined, luring even the lynx to return home after 115 years of absence. Buy Tickets

Racing Extinction & The Power of Nature: Wolves
A documentary that follows undercover activists trying to stave off a man-made mass extinction. Plus the short film, Power of Nature: Wolves. Buy Tickets