2024 Winners

Best Feature

Cactus Hotel

IWFF Judges’ statement:
This particular documentary really stood out to us not only within its category, but among all of the selections this year. It has it all…drama, unique wildlife, and phenomenal imagery — all woven together with great narration and storytelling.

Whether or not you think you are familiar with Saguaro cactuses and the Arizona desert, Cactus Hotel is sure to show you something you’ve never seen before. This film gives a truly unique and enthralling look at one of the most charismatic icons of the American Southwest.

Perhaps most important of all, Cactus Hotel reminded us that learning is fun, and that we live in a world where fact is oftentimes stranger…and more exciting… than fiction.

Best Short

Mushroom in forest

Flora, Fauna, Funga

IWFF Judges’ statement:
We appreciate a film that makes fungus exciting! Flora, Fauna, Funga beautifully depicts a deep connection with an underappreciated but essential part of nature. We loved that this story began with Giuliana doing research into something that is local to herself and then developing it into something with international appeal and involvement. Flora, Fauna, Funga reminds us that when we take a closer look at something that is seemingly mundane, it can alter the way we see the world around us and incite change on a global scale.

Best Short Short

Person using camera behind group of frogs

JoJo – A Toad Musical

IWFF Judges’ statement:
Short and sweet, but with lots of subtext, we recognize this whimsical short for showcasing the creative side of environmental filmmaking. Reminds you to play!

Best Series

Person holds lizard in desert environment

Evolution Earth (ep 2 Islands & ep 5 Grasslands)

IWFF Judges’ statement:
From episode to episode, Evolution Earth caught our eye with its scientific analysis, opening ideas of advancement in our natural world.  In a time filled with voices of warning and climate change, these stories told the present ways nature continues to push forward and innovate itself.

Best Student Film

Small plants in grass un low light

Grasping the Nettle

IWFF Judges’ statement:
This film taught us that with just a little bit of research, a backyard nuisance can be quite useful. A plant so bland and lacking of interest was placed on a magnifying glass,  making us wonder what else nettle can be used for in our parts of the world…A winner for its choice of characters, and technical innovation!

Best Youth Program

School of fish swimming

School of Fish

IWFF Judges’ statement:
Young leaders in native communities are rare and essential to uplift ideas, confidence, and spirit.  In School of Fish, these youth send a message of strength to those who firmly believe in the care of our resources.  The cinematography brings us to Alaska, allowing us to share in the riches of their community and feel the necessity to protect.  For youth, this is inspiration for agency.

Best New Vision

Man with cat in coat

Lynx Man

IWFF Judges’ statement:
Distinct, creative view of a life deeply nestled in nature.  Lynx Man wins New Vision for a cinematography that allowed the audience to see in the eyes of Hannu, the phantasms of his reality, and his adoration for the animals living amongst him.

Best Living with Wildlife Program – Tie

IWFF Judges’ statement:
In this category, we found ourselves confronted with making a difficult choice between two films that present very different, but equally important approaches to living with wildlife.

Among the Wolves and Every Little Thing enthralled us both with the stories they depicted, and with their stunning imagery.

One beautifully reveals how nature presents itself in the most intimate ways to the patient and passive observer, while the other documents the burden and the joy that come to those who choose a more interactive path through wildlife rehabilitation.

Ultimately, because we felt that choosing one film over the other would mean making a statement about which is the right way to live with wildlife, we have decided that both films deserve equal recognition. Both Among the Wolves and Every Little Thing will provoke audiences to examine the ways in which we choose to live with wildlife, while presenting us with two equally wonderful and inspiring ways to approach it.

Best Animal Behavior Program

Goose looks at camera

Modern Goose

IWFF Judges’ statement:
This beautifully layered essay film turned our heads and made us take notice of this seemingly ordinary animal that so many of us take for granted.  With humor and patience, the filmmaker has crafted a story that opened our minds, challenged our biases and won our hearts.  All done without gimmicks and just terrific filmmaking.

Best Wildlife Conservation Program

Two people hold a bird at night


IWFF Judges’ statement:
We chose to honor this delicate story of leaving the nest, for both the birds and humans of the film, in recognition of the storytelling craft exhibited here. Complex and authentic, it’s a film that sticks to your soul.

Best Sustainable Planet

Image of waterfall from distance with clouds

A Call from the Wild

IWFF Judges’ statement:
We recognize this film for showcasing big issues from the inside out, by embracing intimacy to tell a story of scope and creatively use contrast to get us to care.