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The 2024 Edinburgh Conservation Film Festival

The 2024 Edinburgh Conservation Film Festival

Edinburgh Conservation Film Festival Logo

Hope, positivity, and optimism were the takeaways from the 2024 Edinburgh Conservation Film Festival, hosted by the Edinburgh Science Festival and supported by SEFARI Gateway.

For the past three years, the festival has invited the submission of short films to shine a light on the work of people, communities, and organisations from all over the world that are working to protect, restore and enhance the biodiversity of our shared planet.

This year, 84 films were submitted to the festival of which just 13 were chosen to be screened as part of the final line-up, just showing how many amazing projects there are out there. These 13 films documented a diversity of films including, but certainly not limited to, Native American communities restoring the river that is the lifeblood of both their culture and the local ecology; African Artists using their art to draw attention to wildlife conservation; enterprising Solar farms integrating technology with the simple act of food production; a pacific islander who turned personal tragedy into environmental hope for his community; and of course films from our home country documenting freshwater pearl restoration, beaver reintroduction, and asking difficult questions about the future of Scottish rewilding. 

Each year, the festival organisers commission an additional film to highlight a particular conservation initiative, event, or theme. This year’s film, directed by the festival director, Simon Dures, asked the question, “Is this the future for Scottish conservation?” The film gives an insight into what is being done in Scotland to meet the global commitment to safeguard 30% of land and sea by 2030 and can be watched for free here -

Image: From the film “Is this the future for Scottish conservation?”

As well as providing hope, education, and entertainment, each of these films was a part of a competition for which prize money was available. The category winners (terrestrial, aquatic and animation), as well as the overall festival winner, were selected by an inspiring panel of judges.

Beccy Angus, the head of discovery and learning at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, with her wealth of knowledge in communicating the value of the natural world.

Nicola Brown, a cross platform impact producer specialising in natural history and conservation for shows such as Our Frozen Planet, and Our Blue Planet and who helps turn the beautiful imagery we see on our screens into conservation impact.

Professor Julian Hector, the former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, with his lifetime of wildlife film making experience and who has been a judge at every Edinburgh Conservation Film Festival to date.

Brad Harris, the Store Manager of the Finisterre store in Edinburgh (one of the 2024 festival partners), who has been a huge support to the festival and is always welcoming if you want to pop into the Finisterre store for a wetsuit or just a good chat!

This year, the judges had a particularly difficult time choosing the winners, commenting how they were “immensely impressed with the quality and ambition of all the films.  Short form is not an easy format, and the all the film makers had mastered the craft of telling an environmental story with passion and conviction, with their audience front and centre. We were especially struck by the quality of original and powerful imagery in all the films”. However, three winners were chosen.

For the animation category the judges chose a film with, “a simple message that art is a very powerful medium in which to speak to an audience about the environment”. They commented that, “there was something lovely about the simplicity of the shooting and the story-telling. Using the artist’s voice to bring local voices into the global context felt ‘real’”.

The winner of this year’s animation category is ‘The Watchman’ directed by Alicia Hayden.

Image: From the film “Watchman"

For the winner of the Terrestrial category the judges chose a film in which, “the film makers skilfully show us solar panel technology that allows for market garden crops to be grown underneath, which also provides a better environment for the farmers to work in partial shade. In a very tight category, this film stood-out; offering a peep into a low carbon world where energy production and growing food are companions.”

The winner of this year’s terrestrial category is ‘Jack’s Solar Garden’ directed by Chad Weber.

Image: From the film “Jack's Solar Garden"

The Aquatic category was won by a film described by the judges as follows; “Sumptuous imagery, underside, topside and aerials takes us to a beautiful and fragile coral world. The carefully paced story-telling takes us by the hand and shows us that being kind to nature and one another leads to a better and more sustainable world through action. A personal and emotive story told beautifully, from heartbreak to positive legacy, which left you, the viewer invested.”

The winner of this year’s aquatic category is ‘Konstantinus' Legacy’ directed by Daniel Bichsel.