Chris Shields/ Contributor | April 14, 2022
The International Wildlife Film Festival is set to return in person after two years of virtual viewing for its 45th year showcasing environmental cinema in Missoula and Bozeman.
The IWFF is much anticipated to be back in person, according to IWFF Artistic Coordinator Carrie Richer.
“There’s nothing compared to having conversations around a fire, or drinking beers with a filmmaker after you’ve seen their film,” Richer said. “It’s just a really extraordinary, special experience that I think none of us will take for granted this year.”
Although the pandemic forced the festival to only virtual viewing for two years, Richer said good things still came out of what seemed like a hard time. Now the festival is set to be available both virtually and in person this year for the first time in the festival’s history.
“We’ve collected a really great international audience through that,” Richer said about the continuation of the virtual viewing platform. “It’s just a really extraordinary, special experience that I think none of us will take for granted this year.”
Richer is excited about this year's film schedule and said she thinks the films are more alternative than regular wildlife documentaries out today.
“Seeing artwork and seeing films that deal with all of that is a different, multi-sensory way to address what we all have to address on this planet,” Richer said.
IWFF is set to start with the annual WildWalk Parade on April 23 to revive the tradition for the first time since the pandemic. This is the 30th year the WildWalk has been a part of the festival in Missoula said IWFF festival coordinator Taylor Lennox. He said he is excited to see it come back to his hometown.
“It’s one of those events that if you grew up in Missoula, it’s something you almost take for granted,” he said. “It's so identifiable and it’s one of those particular special events that Missoulians recognize and cherish.”
Lennox, a UM alumnus, said the festival is part of what makes Missoula home for him.
“I feel intimately tied to the conservation aspect and this deep love of the wilderness that has been inspired by growing up here and going through the program,” he said.
Lennox said the films aren't the only thing to look forward to.
“There’s a rich heritage there that I think is worthy of caring about and we live in a very media-focused world,” he said. “Sharing stories about the things we care about is one of the most powerful tools we have to not only keep ourselves hopeful, but also to inspire new ideas for change and to allow people to think of ways to move forward and to take action.”
A total of 77 films, 29 feature films, 46 short films and two special projects are scheduled for the festival. The film schedule and details can be found on the IWFF and Roxy websites.