Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we took the difficult decision to cancel the screening of the films at the Oxford Natural History Museum. However, we still ran a virtual screening of the shortlisted films on YouTube on May 29th which you can watch below:
The films were then judged by viewers in two categories: ‘Students’ and ‘Conservation Optimism’ and the winners of each category won a 1.5-hour mentoring session with a filmmaking expert. We’re thrilled to reveal that the 2020 winners were Leo Plunkett with Saving Aru (Conservation Optimism) and Yeliz Motro with the animated short ‘Escape’ (Students).
Our winners got the incredible opportunity to be mentored by the following experts.
Damon Gameau – Mentor
Damon Gameau is an Australian actor and director. His most recent film is a feature documentary called ‘2040’ which looks at what the world could look like in the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. Structured as a visual letter to his four-year-old daughter, Damon blends traditional documentary with dramatised sequences and high-end visual effects to create a vision board of how these solutions could regenerate the world for future generations.
He has authored an accompanying book called ‘2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration”. Both the film and the book provide an entry point into a whole ecosystem of solutions that people can get involved in today. You can visit whatsyour2040.com to join the Regeneration, a movement of people who are mobilising to learn about, contribute to, advocate for and invest in regeneration solutions to improve our planet.
Jeronimo Prieto – Mentor
Jeronimo Prieto is an industrial engineer from ITESM with a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is the Founding Partner and Co-director of Pelagic Life and won the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival for Direction in the documentary México Pelagico.
Jeronimo has been an underwater filming partner with National Geographic, Discovery Channel and GoPro in Mexico. He is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer diving instructor since 2009 with 6 specialities and has been a leader in more than 25 expeditions with mega marine fauna in Mexico since 2006.
Live Q&A SESSIONS:
We also ran live Q&As throughout the day which are now available here.
Rohit Varma & Radha Rangarajan – Nature inFocus
Radha Rangarajan is usually found lost in either a forest or a book. A photographer, Radha dabbles in filmmaking, art, and writing. She is the Editor at Nature inFocus and also curates and edits stories for JLR Explore. She’s a natural history buff and is partial to elephants, fungi, owls, and trees. Radha has written and guest-edited over ten picture books for children, all of which have been published on Pratham Books. She tweets as @missgoobe and posts as @radharangarajan on Instagram.
Rohit Varma is the founder of Nature inFocus – a platform for natural world storytellers and an annual festival that brings together the wildlife community. A marketeer by profession, Rohit is passionate about wildlife photography and conservation. He is keen on wildlife filmmaking and was a part of the team that made the short film ‘Mysteries of Monsoon’ – the first film under the NiF Productions banner that he started. A natural history film called ‘Wild Tamil Nadu’ will be produced under the same banner.
Sophie Darlington – Freelance Natural History Filmmaker and Director of Photography 12.30 (BST )
Sophie Darlington is a freelance natural history filmmaker and Director of Photography who has been making wildlife feature films and television for more than 25 years. Sophie has worked on feature films and landmark television series such as Our Planet, Dynasties and The Hunt for The BBC NHU, Netflix, Disney Nature and National Geographic amongst others.
Keith Scholey – Co/CEO and Co-founder of Silverback Films 2pm (BST)
Keith Scholey is currently a director of Silverback Films Ltd. In 2019 he series produced Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’, and in 2020 is an executive producer for the BBC One series ‘A Perfect Planet’ and director of the cinema films ‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’ Disneynature’s ‘Dolphin Reef’.
Recent credits as an independent executive producer include the Discovery Channel series ‘Wild Planet; North America’ and ‘Deadly Islands’ and also the producer and director of the Disneynature cinema films ‘African Cats’ and ‘Bears’.Born and raised in East Africa, he qualified as a Zoologist with both a degree and PhD from Bristol University.
This year, we are running a virtual exhibition on the day of the festival by putting a spotlight on the work of the following illustrators, photographers and artists. The Virtual Exhibition is now live and accessible here.
Amy Fitzmaurice – PhD student and Photographer
Being a conservation scientist is not just about studying wildlife, it is about the whole ecosystem and that often includes people that live alongside wildlife. Amy worked on a photograph series during her second year of PhD fieldwork conducting the research for the Living with Tigers Project, to show what the daily life of a conservation scientist is like.
The Living with Tigers Project is a collaborative project run by Chester Zoo, in partnership with Green Governance Nepal, WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University), Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), eight communities, Bardia National Park (BNP) and Chitwan National Park (CNP). The project aims to reduce human-tiger and human-leopard conflict by promoting coexistence and alleviating poverty.
Dr Cécile Girardin – Ecosystems Scientist / Biodiversity & Climate Change / Artist
Cécile trained as an Ecosystems Scientist at the University of Oxford and Imperial College and has over 15 years of field experience: working in tropical forests, managing international teams, leading scientific publications, training students, and facilitating discussions on translating science into policy and action (eg. REDD+, Nature-based Solutions). She combines years of experience in climate change policy analysis with a background in tropical ecology and thorough understanding of forest ecosystem functioning to provide a unique multidisciplinary approach to her work. Her research focuses on the potential for Nature-based Solutions to respond to climate change.
She is an ecosystems scientist at the University of Oxford and a science illustrator. As Science Lead of the Oxford Biodiversity Network, she gets to dive into the latest cutting-edge research on our natural world, ecosystems, and biodiversity. She took this opportunity to share some of those stories. The network has many, many more exciting stories to tell and so check out its website to dive into the science and meet the researchers fighting to protect our natural world. The artworks that will be shared as part of the festival are a series of illustrations & short articles produced for UN Biodiversity, on the occasion of Earth Day 2020.
Tim Kuiper – PhD Student and Photographer
Tim is a PhD student at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science at Oxford University. He loves statistics and is getting to grips with the social sciences, as he researches ranger-based monitoring of elephant poaching in his home country of Zimbabwe. He loves capturing beauty in nature and wildlife through his photography hobby and hopes you enjoy his shots!
Ed & James Harrison – Founders of Under the Skin
Created by brothers and design duo Ed & James Harrison, Under the Skin is a creative venture to raise awareness of some of the world’s most endangered and vulnerable animals. By using the concept of interactive printmaking, these extremely limited edition prints are a hand-crafted celebration of species from across the globe with a powerful underlying message. Under UV light the phosphorescent skeleton is exposed; all that remains when a species falls into the darkness of extinction.
Their mission is to raise awareness of extinction in fresh and engaging ways, whilst celebrating the biodiversity of species. They donate 20% of each print sale to a charity working to protect the respective species. Through their printmaking, they are raising money and promoting the work of grassroots charities who are focused on supporting some of the most vulnerable animals across the globe. These include Sea Shepherd, RSPB, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Bornean Orangutan Survival, Birdlife International, Global Wildlife Conservation and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, among numerous others.
Alicia Hayden – Student, Illustrator and Photographer
Alicia is a second-year Biological Sciences undergraduate from North Yorkshire who enjoys wildlife art and photography. With her art, she prefers to work in biro to create realistic images of animals displaying natural behaviour. Her illustrations for Conservation Optimism focused on British species which are threatened, but still form part of an optimistic conservation story, leading her to choose the pine marten, various species of bees, and the brown hare.
She took up wildlife photography when she was 10, and specialises in birds and macro photography. She loves trying to find unusual angles and lighting, and capturing action, such as birds in flight. You can see some of her work, both art and photography, here: https://aliciahaydenwildlifephotography.zenfolio.com.
Hollie Booth – PhD Student and Photographer
Hollie Booth is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist and practitioner. Over the past decade, she has worked on a range of complex conservation issues in challenging contexts, including community-based tourism in Ethiopia, rhino and elephant poaching in Tanzania, and shark and ray trade in Indonesia.
Hollie has always loved nature and the outdoors, ever since she was a kid and her dad used to show her different bird and butterfly species in their back garden in Birmingham. She is also interested in fair and equitable resource management, to balance conservation objectives with human well-being. Hollie is currently doing a PhD at ICCS on practical approaches for shark conservation.
Rachel Hudson – Wildlife Illustrator
Rachel Hudson is a wildlife illustrator, working from her home studio in Hampshire, UK. She has a background in the anthropology of art and nature conservation.
She works with many of the leading wildlife organisations and publishers in the UK, including BBC Wildlife Magazine, Butterfly Conservation, The Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and People’s Trust for Endangered Species. Check her website here for more illustrations.
Enjoyed the festival and would like to support us to carry on our mission? If you and your organization value the work that we do and would be interested in helping to ensure we are able to continue to put out these kinds of projects, we would be honoured to discuss partnership opportunities with you. You can also donate directly below.