The International Wildlife Film Festival returns for its 44th year with the theme, “Rising from the Depths.” From April 17-May 15, the hybrid festival showcases 65 films, most of which are available to an international audience.
New films are added to the virtual catalog every week of the festival and online discussions offer viewers access to intimate conversations with filmmakers following select screenings.
Outdoor screenings at popular locations such as the Roxy Garden, Ogren Park, and pop-up media installations throughout Missoula offer local participants opportunities to celebrate the festival safely under the Big Sky.
Out of the 65 films selected, 34 have been nominated as finalists in 12 categories, and showcase the talents of such film luminaries as Jeff Bridges, Sigourney Weaver and Sir David Attenborough. During the Wildlife Film Festival, a panel of three judges will select a winning film in each category and the Best of Festival award, while audience members will vote on an Audience Award Winner. The IWFF Award Ceremony will be held in Missoula on Friday, April 30.
“We wanted to anchor the 2021 festival in the community that has been so supportive of us and also protect that festival-family,” says IWFF Artistic Director Carrie Richer. “I am excited about the outdoor options we’ve planned, offering a way to celebrate warmer weather, a new chapter for us all, the filmmaker’s extraordinary work, and this very unique 44th IWFF.”
The Wildlife Film Festival kicks off on Saturday, April 17, with a Roxy popcorn-pickup and WildWalk tribute. Outdoor screenings at the Roxy Garden will begin Thursday, April 22, and continue every Thursday and Friday of the festival, April 22-May 7.
Showing in the garden are “2040,” “Beast of Our Time,” “The Coyote: Yellowstone’s Underdog,” “Secrets of the Whales: Orca Dynasty,” and the 2021 Best of Festival Winner.
Celebrate Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, at the UM Wildlife Biology’s 85th Anniversary party, including a pop-up installation of the film “Lichen.” On Friday, April 30, “Epic Yellowstone, A Winter Hunt,” will be projected on First Montana Bank downtown, along with the 2021 Awards Ceremony.
“Kingdoms of Fire, Ice, and Fairy Tales” screens Thursday, May 8, at Ogren Park. This epic film takes viewers from the unforgiving environment of the Arctic Circle to the scalding thermal vents of Yellowstone’s super-volcano. The family-friendly event includes a costume contest, prizes and more.
Finally, the festival closes on Friday, May 14, under the Caras Park tent with “Wild Window: Whales,” the festival’s final pop-up installation. “Whales” is one of five hour-long ambient videos created as part of the Wild Window Series and includes humpback whales, sperm whales, and blue whales. The film closes the festival with an immersive installation of whales along the Clark Fork River.
Founded in 1977 at the University of Montana, International Wildlife Film Festival is the first and longest-running event of its kind. The vision of the IWFF is grounded in exceptional filmmaking that extends an understanding and appreciation for all wildlife species and the natural world.
For full event listings and ticket information, visit wildlifefilms.org.