13th American Conservation Film Festival Announces 2015 Schedule

Download Press Release

Shepherdstown, WV – Three films at this year’s American Conservation Film Festival will make their world premier and four their US premier among the 46 compelling films screening from October 23 to 25 in Shepherdstown. The Festival brings together the finest conservation films and filmmakers from around the world. The weekend also features discussions with scientists and educators, professional workshops, family programming, and social events — all with the mission of engaging, informing, and inspiring its audience through the power of film.

This year’s Festival will present films with a wide range of environmental and conservation themes. The Festival opens on October 23 with a block dedicated to West Virginia and features three films profiling the environmental and economic injustices the state has suffered over the decades.   Filmmaker Mari-Lynn Evans will discuss her film “Blood on the Mountain” about the history and legacy of coal mining in the state. On the same night in another venue, an exciting block of films featuring wild mustangs (Unbranded) and bison (Silencing the Thunder) will send you to the mountains of the American west. After the films, ACFF invites you to get stirred and shaken at Tito’s night at Domestic restaurant, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Discuss the films, mingle with filmmakers, and enjoy specialty cocktails and a late-night dinner.

At five venues in and around Shepherdstown, ACFF invites its audience to explore the world through the stories, images, and people that create this diverse offering of films. Several filmmakers and subject matter experts will be present during the festival and participating in discussions following the screening of their films. Jacob Steinberg will introduce the world premier of his film Osprey: Marine Sentinel; Dr. Amanda Stronza, Director of the Ecoexist Project will introduce Pathways to Coexistence about the people and elephants of Botswana; and student filmmaker, Sam Sheline will be on hand for his film called Add One Back about oyster farming in the Chesapeake Bay.

ACFF engages its audience in issue-relevant films, some uplifting and some enraging, and encourages festival participants to deepen their understanding of these issues and take action. The “Action Opps” page of the ACFF website will offer resources that support audience members in turning inspiration into action.  The Conservation Filmmaker Workshop is offered October 24 and 25 at the National Conservation Training Center to aspiring and professional filmmakers who wish to hone their craft, exchange ideas in a creative and collaborative environment, and expand their professional network with colleagues and industry leaders working in a similar genre of film production

 ACFF presents four awards to outstanding festival films: the Green Fire Award for overall excellence in filmmaking; the Broadcast Award for a film previously or scheduled to air on a national television network; the Student Filmmaker Award, a $500 cash prize awarded to an emerging student filmmaker; and the Audience Choice Award. All of the award-winning films will be shown at an encore event on November 1 at the Shepherdstown Opera House.

Full festival passes, allowing entrance to all films and events over the four days, are $40, day passes are $20, and tickets for a specific block of films are $12. Discounts offered for seniors, students, and members of the military.

 Get a sense of the Festival here: https://vimeo.com/114801522

Film descriptions, schedule, and ticket info here: www.conservationfilm.org.

Follow on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


About ACFF

The American Conservation Film Festival is an annual event held in Shepherdstown, WV, a vibrant arts community 70 miles west of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. ACFF features films from a diverse group of conservation filmmakers from around the world.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization addresses conservation through the lens of film, providing a platform for education and dialogue about more sustainable ways to live.  ACFF programming promotes solutions to pressing conservation issues, respect for the world’s natural and cultural heritage, and passion for conserving our resources.  Since 2003, the Festival has screened over 400 films to over 30,000 audience members, presented filmmaking workshops for aspiring documentary filmmakers, hosted panel discussions with filmmakers, and offered free family programs with the mission of engaging, informing, and inspiring people toward better ways to live, work, and play.


2015 ACFF Sponsors

The 2015 American Conservation Film Festival is sponsored by: The Campbell Foundation, the Nora Roberts Foundation, Patagonia, Earth Touch, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center, West Virginia Division of Tourism, Shepherd University, The Downstream Project, The Observer, Oxbow Farm, Route 11 Potato Chips, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hobert & Kerr, P.C., Shepherdstown Opera House, Green Path Consulting, Flurie, Slick & Kinnett CPAs, Sparkfire Media, Friends of the National Conservation Training Center, HBP Inc., Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Skinner Law Firm, West Virginia Film Office, Younis Orthodontics, Barbara and Andy Ferrari, The Spirit of Jefferson, Fallon Insurance, and Jefferson Security Bank.

Press Contact:

Jennifer Lee, ACFF Development & Communications Director
jennifer@conservationfilm.org   (540) 539.6150

The Power of One Voice: A 50 Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson

52 min

Filmmaker: Mark Dixon

Rachel Carson is widely regarded as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Her talent as a writer, combined with her deep knowledge of the natural world, made her a potent advocate for the use of precaution when working with biological systems. In 1962, her best-selling book, Silent Spring, awoke the environmental consciousness of America with poignant words of caution in the face of rapidly advancing scientific progress.  This documentary film pulls insights from a variety of speakers at a 50 year anniversary celebration of Silent Spring.

7:40 pm on Thursday at the NCTC Byrd Auditorium


POOV (1)

Summer is Here! Festival Selections & Plans Are Heating Up!

The ACFF selection committees are watching, rating, and selecting the very best of our film submissions and solicitations to bring you an exciting, educational, and compelling film festival this fall.  We are also eagerly planning our supplemental programming – guest speakers, filmmaker discussions, family programs, and film workshops – to give our audience an exceptional and one-of-a-kind festival experience. We’re so excited and think you will be, too!

As summer heats up, so does our planning and organizing.  Stay in touch for special announcements and events and the unveiling of our festival programming in August. To subscribe to our monthly e-letter, please click here.  And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular fun announcements and info. Thanks for supporting ACFF!

Thank You! Ground Operations Party a Winner!

What a wonderful evening we had celebrating film, farming, food, and our veterans at the Ground Operations Movie and Dinner Party, a spring fundraiser for ACFF!  Due to the contributions of a great number of people, we enjoyed a wonderful film, a delicious dinner, a fun and fruitful live auction, and an altogether delightful and inspiring event.  Big thanks to all who participated – let’s do it again next year!

Dulanie Ellis Calvin & crowd Larry Schmidt & painting Bob Tabb Edgar Hercila musicians

We’re Having A Party!

Download press release here.

The American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) will celebrate spring with a movie and dinner party on April 11 featuring the film Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, its filmmaker, and special guests involved with farming and veterans’ issues.

Dulanie Ellis  Dulanie Ellis, the filmmaker of Ground Operations,   and Edgar Hercila, a farmer-veteran, will be coming from Los Angeles to join the party and participate in a discussion following the movie and before dinner.

   The veterans I’ve met have as a result of producing and  distributing Ground Operations give me hope in these very troubled times. I am thrilled to share this story about solutions with the American Conservation Film Festival as we all strive for positive responses to our environmental challenges,” says Ellis.

 Festivities begin at 4:30pm at the Opera House with the screening of this award-winning 40-minute documentary that champions combat vets who are rebuilding their lives as organic farmers and ranchers and revitalizing their communities with access to local, affordable, fresh, healthy food. The film was screened at ACFF’s 2014 Festival and has been a valuable tool in making people aware of this effort and providing resources to veterans looking for meaningful employment.

For me, the movement and this film are about continuing my service and about veterans growing food… the way that we consume food in this country must change, and I think that veterans possess a unique set of skills that are perfect to meet this challenge,” says Hercila.

Following the movie, the party will move to the Shepherdstown Community Club for a cocktail hour, discussion with the special guests including local farmer-author Forrest Pritchard and Barbie Hartman, Chief of Nutrition and Food Service at the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, and a locally-sourced buffet dinner. The party will serve as a fundraiser for ACFF, who is going into its 13th year of bringing outstanding conservation films, filmmakers, and educational programs to Shepherdstown and beyond. A few very special items will be live auctioned to add to the fun and coffers.

Space is limited and tickets are $50 per person, $200 for two at the Sponsor level, and $600 for a reserved table of 8. To purchase tickets, visit http://conservationfilm.org/special-events/spring-2015-fundraiser-ground-operations/. Follow Ground Operations Movie & Dinner Party on Facebook for frequent updates on the festivities!

Questions? Want to become a sponsor or contribute in some way? E-mail Jennifer Lee at jennifer@conservationfilm.org or call 540-539-6150.

Best of Fest February 28 at Weinberg Center in Frederick

Download PDF of  press release Weinberg logowith photos.

The American Conservation Film Festival presents its first Best of Fest of 2015!   Best of Fest returns to the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, MD, after very well-attended screenings there in 2013 and 2014. This year’s event will feature live music, three films, and two topic experts on river ecology and habitat.

 Line-up for February 28 at The Weinberg:
6pm – Reception with music from Randy “Windtalker” Motz, a multimedia show set to the haunting sounds of Native American Flute.
7pmACFF 2014 Audience Choice Award Winner “DamNation,” chronicling America’s history of dam construction and efforts to remove obsolete dams to allow rivers to come back to life. 94 minutes. This compelling, informative, and entertaining film has received wide acclaim and multiple awards for excellence in documentary filmmaking. More info at http://damnationfilm.com.
Discussion to follow with Jim Thompson, Fish Passage Coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service and Serena McClain, Director of River Restoration at American Rivers.
Brief Intermission & Drawing of Gift Certificates
9pm – ACFF 2014 Student Award Winner “We Are The Land.” Amidst national controversy surrounding the potential dangers of ‘fracking,” environmental activist Pauline Matt stand alone to protect her native homeland, the Blackfeet Reservation of northern Montana.  14 minutes
9:15pm – “Sticky” is a delightful animated short film that tells a positive Australian conservation success story, celebrating the persistence of life, the adventure and passion embedded in science, and the little creatures underfoot.  20 minutes.

Tickets are just $7 for adults; $5 for seniors/students/military members and are available on the Weinberg’s website at http://www.weinbergcenter.org/8046/american-conservation-film-festival-best-of-fest-2/ or at the door.

Best of Fest gives the American Conservation Film Festival the opportunity to take a sampling of what the annual film festival offers in Shepherdstown to other communities in the region. Best of Fests have been held in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia over the past several years.

This Best of Fest is sponsored by Flying Dog Brewery.

AND we’ll have drawings for gift certificates from these fine Frederick businesses: The Trail House, The Orchard restaurant, and MOM’s Organic market.
Musical performance donated by Randy “Windtalker” Motz and photography services donated by Ivan Petrov Creative Photography.

ACFF is grateful to these businesses and the Weinberg Center for the Arts for their support!

OrchardLogo_final-300x112Randy Motzmomslogo       ACFF_sm_jpeg

Trail House



Info on Best of Fest Special Guests
Acclaimed recording artist, Randy “Windtalker” Motz presents “The Windtalker Experience,” a multimedia show set to the breathtaking and haunting sounds of Native American flute. “Windtalker’s” distinctive style blends flute with lush orchestration and Native percussion, set against a backdrop of dramatic photos from the Southwest, taken by his wife Georgia Harris.

Serena McClain is a Director of River Restoration at American Rivers and has worked in the river restoration field for more than thirteen years, focusing largely on dam removal planning. McClain works with regional and national stakeholders to demonstrate how to enhance safety, quality of life and economic development by restoring the natural function of rivers and utilizes her communications expertise to ensure that local communities and key decision-makers are aware of the opportunities available to them and are equipped with the tools necessary to aid them in those decisions.

Jim Thompson is the Fish Passage Coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service.  Since 2004, Jim has been coordinating with Federal, State, and local governments, as well as NGO’s and private landowners to identify and prioritize dams and other stream blockages that inhibit the up and downstream migration of fish.  Once priority projects have been identified, Jim helps secure grant funding and assists in the construction of fish passages or removals to ensure adequate passage for migratory and resident fish species.

About the Weinberg Center for the Arts
The Weinberg Center for the Arts is one of the region’s premier performing arts presenters offering film, dance, music, theatre and family-focused programming. Located in the historic Tivoli movie theater building in downtown Frederick, Md., events are made possible with major support from the City of Frederick, Maryland State Arts Council, Ausherman Family Foundation, and other corporate and individual donors.

Press Contact:
Jennifer Lee, ACFF Development & Communications Director
jennifer@conservationfilm.org      Phone: 540.539.6150

Season’s Greetings!

Thank you all – filmmakers, audience members, volunteers, donors, and community partners – for a fantastic 2014 season!  We’re already excitedly planning special screenings and events, organization partnerships, educational programming, and a fine Festival for 2015, so stay tuned to this site for the latest updates.

Meanwhile, check out our new ACFF “sizzle reel,”
created by videographer Thad Reid with scenes from the
2014 Festival mixed in with powerful images from past Festival films.  Enjoy and share!

View ACFF 2015 SIZZLE on Vimeo.


2014 Year in Review – A Great One!

Download 2014 Year in Review

The 2014 festival season and year has wrapped with a successful, well-attended, and interactive four-day film festival on October 30 through November 2, with a special encore screening of the Audience Choice Award-winning film on November 9.

Thanks so much to our supporters, volunteers, filmmakers, and audience members for making 2014 a great one for ACFF!

Some festival highlights:

  • Selected from over 150 film submissions to present 46 outstanding conservation-themed films from around the country and the world, including films from Norway, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
  • Hosted 14 visiting filmmakers and subject matter experts to discuss their films, participate in filmmaking workshops, and attend social events. Species extinction and endangerment, climate change, habitat preservation, and the Wilderness Act were among the featured topics.
  • Engaged an audience of over 3,000 in films, discussions, and social events.
  • Continued our tradition of offering films free of charge at the National Conservation Training Center, including the increasingly popular Family Programming block.
  • Collaborated with ACFF filmmaker and Shepherd University Alum Joey Diaz to create a new Promotional Trailer for the Festival.
  • Presented the Green Fire Award, ACFF’s recognition of filmmaking excellence, to Andrew Garrison of Austin, Texas for Trash Dance.
  • Presented the Broadcast Award, given to a film that has aired on a national television network, to David Mrazek and Joel Greenberg for From Billions to None.
  • Awarded the Student Filmmaker Award to We Are the Land, produced by students from Chapman University in California.
  • Hosted an Audience Choice Event on November 9 at the Opera House, with storyteller Adam Booth, a screening of The Meaning of Wild and discussion with Ed Zahniser, and encore presentation of the Audience Choice Award winning film,
  • Offered the 3rd annual Producer’s Campus Workshop, a two-day documentary filmmaking workshop, to over 20 seasoned and aspiring filmmakers featuring sessions on conservation storytelling, filmmaking gear, and industry networking and partnerships.
  • Welcomed six new festival sponsors and over 20 returning sponsors.
  • Offered filmgoers the opportunity to follow up on issues and take action with film topic-related resources posted on the “Action Opps” page of our website.

ACFF was active throughout the year as well, presenting two “Best of Fest” events, screening partnerships with other groups, and special events and projects.

  • Created our very own Roku Channel, ACFF OnDemand, providing the opportunity to view select festival films on your television all year long for the low subscription price of $2.99/month. Eleven films are presently available with more coming soon.
  • Hosted “Best of Fest” special movie screenings at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, Maryland, and the Alamo Cinema Drafthouse in Winchester, Virginia.
  • Partnered with three area organizations – Sky Truth, the Sierra Club of West Virginia, and the Shepherdstown Film Society – for special film screening events in Shepherdstown.
  • Three ACFF board members and subject matter experts led four film-based, environmentally-themed sessions of the Lifelong Learning Program at Shepherd University.
  • Co-hosted two private film preview parties in Shepherdstown, WV, and Clarke County, VA to increase outreach and exposure.
  • Held a Donor & Sponsor Appreciation Reception in Charles Town, WV, with cocktails provided by Bloomery Sweetshine.
  • Developed promotional partnerships with the Winchester Film Club, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Skyline Indie Film Fest, Freedom’s Run, and the Inn at Moler’s Crossroads.
  • Appeared or was heard on over 20 media outlets, including print newspapers, website posts and listings, WSHC &WAMU public radio, and on-line articles.

Stay tuned for upcoming events, news, and plans for 2015! 

Audience Choice Winner Screens November 9

Download Audience Choice press release with photos.

2014 Audience Choice Award Goes to “DamNation”

November 4, 2014 – The 2014 Festival weekend has wrapped, the audience has voted “DamNation” its favorite film, and ACFF will be doing a special screening event this Sunday, November 9, at 5pm at the Opera House in Shepherdstown.

“DamNation” is a compelling story about dams in America, from their ubiquitous construction over the last 200 years to more recent removal efforts. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other fish the right to return to their spawning grounds. The extraordinary cinematography, dynamic pace and characters, and informative and entertaining content of this film brought in a record number of votes from this year’s festival audience.

This Sunday’s Audience Choice event, sponsored by The Observer newspaper, will open at 5pm with a tale or two from award-winning Appalachian storyteller Adam Booth, followed by a short film from the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, ACFF will show “The Meaning of Wild,” a cinematic journey through one of the nation’s wildest landscapes, the Tongass National Forest of Alaska. Special guest and Shepherdstown local Ed Zahniser – son of the Howard Zahniser, the primary architect of the Wilderness Act – will be on hand for a discussion following the film.

The evening wraps up with an encore presentation of “DamNation.” Tickets for the event are available at the door for just $8. Popcorn, sodas, beer, and wine are available for purchase from the Opera House.

For more information on the evening’s line-up of players, look here:

DamNation – http://damnationfilm.com

Adam Booth – http://www.adam-booth.com

The Observer – http://wvobserver.com

West Virginia Rivers Coalition – http://www.wvrivers.org

The Wilderness Act – http://wilderness.org/article/wilderness-act

Howard & Ed Zahniser – http://www.wilderness.net/nwps/zahniser