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The UK's Newest Film Festival Unveils a Truly Wild Weekend

30 January 2017 | Festival | Wildscreen

The new Wild Film Festival Scotland and Bristol-based conservation charity Wildscreen have unveiled a programme packed with fabulous films from across the world, special guests and breathtaking photography.

WFFS involves a close collaboration with the charity behind the world-renowned biennial Wildscreen Festival in Bristol, where the coveted Wildscreen Panda Awards (the Oscar's of natural world filmmaking) are presented.

As a result WFFS will screen some of the world's best wildlife and environmental films as a core attraction during a packed weekend of events, topical talks, art, literature and music.

Naturalists and broadcasters presenters Simon King (Big Cat Diary) and Iolo Williams (Springwatch) will be among the 20 speakers along with Sacha Dench of WWT, "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 Panda Award winners. They include:

  • Life Story: Rare and extreme behaviours, some never recorded before. Startling scenes include a humpback 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 in 2016.
  • 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 in 2014.
  • 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. Winner of two Panda Awards in 2016.
  • 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!

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."

WFFS is backed by a variety of charities including the RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and the Southern Upland Partnership (SUP).

The Wild Film Festival Scotland teamEd Forrest, the festival project leader who works for SUP, said: "We want 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."

A strong Scottish strand will run through the festival. Among the 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." 

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."

Many 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."

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