We had an incredible week at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. The Shark Riddle took home the award for Best Children’s Program – awesomeface! And equally as awesomeface was the crowd’s reaction to our Shark Days presentation. We were told that demand was so high to see it, that the event sold out in just three days after it was announced. The historic Wilma Theater was packed with a thousand kids and teachers bused in from local schools who watched our film and presentation about the diversity and importance of sharks. One kindergarten teacher told us that his students had been preparing for the day by singing The Great White Shark Song in class. That same teacher asked permission to cover the song with his band of teacher musicians. How could we possibly say no?!
A woman in the crowd said that she couldn’t remember the last time she had smiled for that long. I love comments like that! Also, a parent at the event shared that she had recently seen our other Riddle Solvers film, The Riddle in a Bottle, with her kid’s class and had expected to hate it. She hates nearly all children’s programming on television – which is why she never lets her children watch television. But at some point she realized that something about our film was different, and by the end, it had touched someplace deep inside her heart that she had never expected. (I think it was the left ventrical – that’s the part of the heart reserved for singing animals and crying pirates.) In fact, the woman was so moved that now she volunteers for the festival and organizes the children’s screenings. How cool is that?!
To thank the crowd, we gave out free temporary shark tattoos as well as posters sponsored by the Save Our Seas Foundation which were a huge hit and showed them how to make a personalized shark diving e-card.
And finally, if you’ve ever been interested in wildlife filmmaking and wanted to know how to step into that world, then try attending IWFF in Missoula sometime. It’s the longest running wildlife film festival in the world and provides an incredible opportunity to meet so many incredibly talented filmmakers and conservationists from around the globe. For instance, this year lifetime achievement awards were given to Dr. Richard Leakey and Dr. Sylvia Earle, both legends in the fields of biology and conservation, as well as Fred Kaufman of PBS Nature and Dr. Thomas Kaplan, founder of Panthera. And talk about leaders in conservation, Greg and Barbara MacGillivray were there to promote the One World One Ocean campaign, which is working over 15 years to inspire people to protect the ocean. It’s a massive initiative combining film, television, new media and educational outreach to help save our blue planet. Check out their stunning new 3D IMAX film To The Arctic. Hope and optimism are contagious, so feel free to spread it…