Join leading naturalists, broadcasters and filmmakers for an event that celebrates the wonders of the natural world
The new Wild Film Festival Scotland has unveiled a programme packed with fabulous films from across the world, special guests and breathtaking photography.
Naturalists and broadcasters Simon King (Big Cat Diary) and Iolo Williams (Springwatch) will be among the 20 speakers along with Sacha Dench “the human swan” who flew a motorised paraglider 4,500 miles from the Arctic to the UK with migrating Bewick’s swans.
WFFS takes place in Dumfries from 24-26 March and its central themes will be Amazing Journeys, Wild Places and Rewilding. Some 30 films are being screened, many of them winners of coveted Wildscreen Panda Awards (the wildlife Oscars). They include:
- Life Story: Rare and extreme behaviours, some never recorded before. Startling scenes include a humback whale blowing bubbles to defend a calf from shark attack and a goose chick’s death defying 400ft cliff jump.
- The Hunt: Revealing the extraordinary techniques predators use to catch their prey. Winner of three Panda Awards.
- Hebridean Summer: Europe’s final frontier against the wild and unpredictable Atlantic. Maramedia’s landmark film, narrated by Ewan McGregor, won the Panda Award winner for Best Series.
- India’s Wandering Lions: After a brush with extinction, the Asiatic lion is reclaiming its lost lands. But can lions and people truly settle their differences and live together?
- Racing Extinction: Infiltrating dangerous international black markets and using hi-tech tactics to document the link between carbon emissions and extinctions. Never before seen images that change our view of the world.
- Honey Hunters: A life story of bees and people. After watching “Honey Hunters” everyone wants to have their own beehive and harvest their own honey!
- A strong Scottish strand will run through every aspect of the festival – which includes literature, music and art as well as film and photography. Among the guest speakers will be Nigel Pope, founder of Glasgow-based Maramedia, one of the UK’s leading wildlife filmmakers. There will be screenings of their work including episodes from Highlands and the Panda Award winning Hebrides which was narrated by Ewan McGregor.Nigel said: “It’s brilliant that Scotland is launching a festival that celebrates the natural world and some of the astonishing filmmaking and photography it inspires. I’m looking forward to being part of what is shaping up to be a great weekend. We have a small but vibrant wildlife film-making sector in Scotland and events like this will help both aspiring film-makers and the wild places they celebrate.”WFFS is backed by charities including the RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the Southern Upland Partnership (SUP).Ed Forrest, the festival project leader who works for SUP, said: “Our aim is to inspire, inform and delight people with the very best films and photos. We hope visitors will enjoy the chance to meet outstanding naturalists, broadcasters and filmmakers and hear about their work and adventures in incredible places, and among astonishing creatures, in every corner of the Earth.”The WFFS Film Partner is Wildscreen, the Bristol-based conservation charity which runs the biennial festival at which the Wildscreen Panda Awards are given.Lucie Muir, Wildscreen CEO, said: “We believe in the power of stories to inspire people to fall in love with wild things and wild places. And now, more than ever, our natural world needs more of us to love it and do our bit to help protect it. So we are thrilled to be part of WFFS which will bring together films, photos and stories from all over the world for one wild and inspiring weekend in the stunning setting of Dumfries and Galloway.”
The festival also aims to raise wider awareness of Dumfries and Galloway as one of the most beautiful and varied places in Britain for nature-based tourism.
Councillor Colin Smyth, Events Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “We loved the idea of a wildlife film festival and are giving it our full support. Films about the natural world attract some of the largest audiences on TV, and this is a chance to see some of the very best on the big screen and meet the people who make them.
“We are also looking forward to this festival introducing many new visitors to Dumfries and Galloway, which is a haven for wildlife and incredibly scenic, and is why the Wild Film Festival is such a perfect fit for our region.”
Brian Morrell, Manager of the WWT Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, said: “Dumfries & Galloway is one of the best places in the UK for watching wildlife with many top wildlife TV programmes such as BBC Autumnwatch being filmed here in recent years. This festival offers an exciting opportunity to turn the spotlight on the region once more with an exciting line up of films and presenters.”
Chris Rollie, Area Manager for the RSPB, added: “Given the magnetic attraction and popularity of wildlife films there has never been a better time for a Wild Film Festival and no better place for this than Dumfries & Galloway, given the region’s renowned variety of wildlife and landscape attractions on the edge of the wild Solway Firth.
“With most of our wonderful visiting waterfowl still around, early spring is a great time to come and enjoy the wild attractions of the area and to take in the festival at the same time. I am delighted that Iolo Williams and Simon King are involved as both are in the very top level of wildlife filming, interpretation and presenting.”
Other key supporters of the festival include the Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Government and the European Union – LEADER 2014-2020 programme.
Many of the festival contributors are drawn from Dumfries and Galloway itself. Among the most unusual will be The Same Hillside, an immersive audio video art installation by filmmaker John Wallace and scientist Professor Pete Smith.
Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “The establishment of the new Wild Film Festival represents a real commitment to further enhancing our region’s tourism offering and attracting more visitors to Dumfries & Galloway, an area renowned for its open spaces, dark skies and growing reputation for wildlife tourism.
“We are delighted to support the inaugural festival which is sure to attract visitors from far and wide with its unique and exciting programme, further raising the profile and reputation of the region as an outstanding place to visit.”