Wildscreen, the not-for-profit behind the world’s biggest festival of natural history storytelling, today revealed the line-up for its inaugural Official Selection Programme.
The charity introduced the Official Selection in 2020 to discover and honour bold, authentic and diverse stories that speak to different audiences with urgency about the natural world. The programme was established to open up the Festival to a wider range of documentary makers, embracing independents, with a more relaxed entry criteria compared to that of the Wildscreen Panda Awards which focuses on the craft of the wildlife genre.
The 2020 Official Selection honours 35 productions, including 17 feature length and 18 short films, that are as diverse in style and subject as the natural world. The entries hail from 14 countries across 5 continents, each bringing a new perspective to the natural world and humanity’s relationship with it.
The myriad of complex relationships that exist between humans and nature features heavily amongst the selections which Wildscreen hopes will make a powerful contribution to the discussion on inclusion and diversity within the wildlife and conservation sector globally.
Rebecca Kormos and Kalyanee Mam’s CRIES OF OUR ANCESTORS, puts women’s voices at the forefront, documenting the peaceful relationship between people and chimpanzees in Guinea that have lived side by side for generations and threat of bauxite mining to both of their futures.
Aner Etxebarria Moral and Pablo Vidal Santo’s BAYANDALAI – LORD OF THE TAIGA, tells the story of the last elder of the Dukhas tribe, the great reindeer herders of the Taiga, questioning modern custodianship of nature through living testament of ancient ways of co-existence. In contrast, Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita’s SHARING THE LAND, explores the conflict between shepherds and wolves, co-existing in Europe.
James Byrne’s OUR GORONGOSA shines a spotlight on what it means for people and wildlife to coexist, addressing intersectionality and exploring how Gorongosa is redefining the identity and purpose of an African national park.
Chelsea Jolly and Whit Hassett’s THIS LAND tells the story of land access in the U.S told through a journey of inclusion and empowerment, following runner and advocate Faith E. Briggs as she covers 150 miles on foot through three U.S. National Monuments that lay in the thick of controversy around public lands.
Experimental technologies and storytelling techniques also feature in the line-up, with Joseph Purdam’s ECOSPHERE, a VR experience that spotlights indigenous and community led efforts to protect the natural world through experiential stories, and EARTHSONGS, a joyful celebration of wild soundscapes, utilising spatial computing technology from Mitch Turnbull and Ollie Lindsey.
The selections also feature films from established heavyweights of the natural history genre, including Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s THE ELEPHANT QUEEN, Apple TV ’s first documentary, and BBC Studios Natural History Unit’s EARTH FROM SPACE and PANGOLINS: THE WORLD’S MOST WANTED ANIMAL.
Hundreds of submissions were received from over 40 countries, selected by an international and diverse team of over 30 pre-selectors and programmers, curating a screening programme that features original and creative stories about the natural world.
The team of programmers, LUCY MUKERJEE (USA), KEVIN MWACHIRO (Kenya), EMMA HUGHES (UK), LYNN NWOKORIE (UK), JONATHAN PEYNET (Germany) and PETER VENN (UK) had the tough job of curating the final selection.
Lucy Mukerjee, Senior Programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival and cofounder of the Programmers of Colour Collective said: “These engaging, emotionally impactful films eloquently and urgently present the state of planet Earth today in a way that feels both informative and inspiring. By putting the spotlight on little-known places and species, this cinematic collection reveals the high stakes of survival, and the delicate balance necessary in order for nature and humanity to coexist.”
Audiences will be able to stream the Official Selection films with selected director Q&A’s during the first ever virtual edition of the Wildscreen Festival which launches in September. Wildscreen announced back in May that it would taking the industry-leading event online, seizing the opportunity to make it the most inclusive and accessible Festival in its 38-year history. Three-month industry passes are on sale now at £125, with concessions offered at £50.