When I lived in Missoula, there was one event that I and everybody else in town looked forward to — the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF). Beginning with the WildWalk Parade and WildFest, this festival is a celebration of all things wildlife. The festival is hosted at The Roxy Theater — my favorite movie theater ever — and pre-COVID lasted one week.
I remember my first IWFF screening — The River and the Wall (2019) — and how special it felt to be part of a group of people excited about film and environmentalism. IWFF isn’t just a film festival; it’s a community event that sparks conversation about and action on environmental issues.
This year marks the return of the IWFF festival at The Roxy Theater after hosting a virtual festival in 2020 and a hybrid festival in 2021. This year IWFF is also hosting a virtual festival from May 1 to May 7 — and you should definitely attend.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Resilience,” an idea that we have all latched onto as we’ve navigated this new world and figured out how to manage all of the ways life has changed. It’s not just humanity that’s been resilient though — and of course it isn’t since we’re talking about IWFF — but the more-than-human world has also had to have resilience in the face of lasting effects from climate change, mass extinctions, and other devastation.
I’m very excited to announce that I will be covering this year’s festival for Thursday Matinee. Stay tuned for the next week as I share film reviews from the festival. Join the conversation about IWFF this year by attending the virtual festival & letting us know which films you’re screening!
Below, I’ve shared three films that I’m especially excited about.
Sydney’s (Virtual) IWFF Picks
All film description from press materials.
America's Heartland: Wild Prairie Reborn
America’s Heartland was once a vast, wind-swept sea of grass, where giant herds of animals were free to roam.
Today, much of the prairie is plowed over and what little grassland remains is heavily grazed by cattle. Tiny fragments of native prairie still pocket the Great Plains but these temperate grasslands are among the most threatened yet least protected biomes on Earth. Their biodiversity has plummeted along with their acreage.
Now, a new project offers hope. In America’s Heartland: Wild Prairie Reborn we travel to the American Prairie Reserve, a piece of northern Montana that’s on track to become the largest protected ecosystem in the continental United States. A mosaic of public and private land, here ranchers and scientists have come together with a singular goal: restore these grasslands to their natural state.
The Otter, A Legend Returns
In Western Europe the otter drastically declined in numbers and even completely disappeared from The Netherlands. This was mainly due to hunting, loss of habitat, pollution and traffic collisions. But the Dutch set the example by investing in their water quality and restoring the habitat of the otter to enable its reintroduction. People now have a chance to spot the otter as it spreads through The Netherlands and even ventures into the heart of a city.
My Dragon River
Fast behaviour of creatures of the river meadows of the Oker in Northern Germany like dragonflies and birds is unmasked by slow motion filming to paint together with shots of mammals and landscape a picture of this last paradise.
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