October 19 to 24, 2008 in Bristol
Festival programmers: Harriet Nimmo, Wildscreen CEO and Sarah Mitchell, festival manager
What is your programming mandate?
Clichéd answer, I know, but to get an interesting and topical mix of films in the wildlife and environmental genre. So as well as the BBC, Discovery/Animal Planet and National Geographic’s big-budget blockbusters, also films from Iran, Bangladesh, Cameroon and Estonia. We had entries from 43 countries this year.
What’s your advice to filmmakers wanting to submit projects?
Films have to be submitted into specific categories for the Panda Awards, as this enables the judges to specifically focus on set criteria and make qualitative comparisons between programs. Think about which category you’re entering your film into and why.
Which film stood out for you from your most recent fest?
We have no say in the final judging, but it is noticeable that one film has been nominated as a finalist in three different categories. Small Talk Diaries by Ammonite is a very witty, wacky and innovative look at the world of mini-beasts – it’s great to see a wildlife film that makes you laugh!
How has the mainstream obsession with the green movement affected your festival overall, as well as the film submissions?
[We're seeing] lots more environmental films from around the world on all budgets.
Further to that, this year saw a record-breaking number of film entries: 440 entries, up 10% from the last festival. And maybe (but it would be hard to quantify) it’s easier to open doors to possible sponsors from outside the usual industry suspects, and to get greater interest as to why this filmmaking genre and our festival are so important.
What are some of the biggest challenges in putting on the festival?
Keeping up with the ever-changing multi-platform digital tv/online/non-broadcast who-knows-what-next industry.