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Inspired Submissions to Sun Valley Film Festival

Photographers on African Wildlife Foundation safari

Bears, bees, and wolves.

These are the seemingly dissimilar subjects of the three finalists for the first WILD to INSPIRE Short Film Competition at the Sun Valley Film Festival, sponsored by the African Wildlife Foundation, Sun Valley, and Nat Geo WILD.

Yet, for all of their differences, the films’ subjects successfully capture the awe-inspiring, captivating, and real effect that wildlife has on not only those who film it, but also on those who view it.

AWF, Sun Valley, and Nat Geo WILD narrowed down the spectacular field of hundreds of submissions to the final three, from which one lucky winner will get the chance to work with Emmy Award-winning National Geographic filmmaker Bob Poole. With subjects covering a range of species and landscapes, the films were judged not only by their connection to the overall theme, but also on their creativity/originality, production quality, and editing.

The three finalists are:

Always Endangered, by Jim Laybourne, is dedicated to following a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park that adapted to living amongst humans, yet faces an uncertain future as its status under the Endangered Species Acts is about to be revoked.

Bee Happy, created by David Thompson and Jacob Taylor, follows Bill Walter of Guerilla Beekeepers, LLC, as he meticulously cares for his beehives and explains their importance for both his own well-being and that of the environment.

Wolf Mountain, by Dan Duran, Sam Price-Waldman and Brendan Nahmias, explores Tonya Littlewolf’s California sanctuary as she spiritually bonds with and cares for the 14 wolves she rescued from captive breeding programs.

The selected grand-prize winner will receive an extended trip to AWF’s Maasai Steppe Landscape in northern Tanzania, home to significant populations of elephants, lions, giraffe, wildebeest, zebras, and other wildlife. AWF has worked in Maasai Steppe to create community conservancies and other protected areas in a way that benefits both people and wildlife to mitigate the competition for resources in the limited amount of space. Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, and Manyara Ranch Conservancy – the wildlife corridor located between the two parks that acts as an essential “bridge”– will be the main areas of focus for the winning filmmaker.

Through regular field updates from the winner in the form of blogs, videos, and photos, AWF is excited to show both the challenges and successes that come with trying to implement conservation in Africa that support landscapes in which both wildlife and people thrive. The insight provided by the winner will shed light on African wildlife, while at the same time showing the excitement and wonder that goes into filmmaking in the field.

The three finalists will be attending the Third Annual Sun Valley Film Festival this Saturday, March 15th, where their films will be screened at 12 p.m. MST before the World premiere of Nat Geo WILD’s Kingdom of the Apes, after which the final winner will be announced.

Tell us who you think the winner will be, below.

Mike Rooney
About the Author

Mike Rooney, Direct Marketing Associate for AWF, grew up with a passion for wildlife, particularly African wild dogs. As an anthropology major at the University of Notre Dame, he developed an interest in how local communities and the environment intersect. He plans on one day making it to Africa and taking some time to do the things he never has. 

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AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.