Every year, The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, The Environmental Film Festival, and more showcase films that celebrate Earth. With awards for activism, adventure, travel, and more, these films immerse viewers in the far-reaching corners of our planet and highlight incredible nature stories.
Jim Sano, WWF’s Vice President of Travel, Tourism, and Conservation served as a judge for The Wild and Scenic Film Festival and shared some of his favorite nature films, many of which are available online. He also gave insight into how he judges films, “music is a big deal for me; it can make or break a film.” In addition to the topic and cinematography, Jim said he also appreciates the work that goes into creating a story within the time restraints of short films. “How do you tell a story in 6 minutes?”
Nature can serve as a break from the stress and isolation, so take a breath, and check out these 15 Nature Films.
This film offers a new perspective on illegal wildlife trafficking with the world’s most trafficked animal: the pangolin. Throughout this film, we follow every exchange and unravel the complex system of illegal wildlife trade. Watch this film below. (GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING)
With two Oscar nominations, Honeyland follows one of Europe’s last wild beekeepers while telling a human narrative about sustaining balance with nature. This flick can be rented online.
3. River of Eden
This short film dives into the Navua river of Fiji which flows through rugged mountains and dense jungle. The upper Navua river is a protected area which prevents mining and development in the area.
4. Pride of Namibia
The film created by WWF dives into the history of conservation in Namibia and the successes of conservation travel that benefits wildlife and people. Watch the full film below.
5. The Accidental Environmentalist
A dive into the story of John Wathen who became an internationally recognized environmentalist while trying to bring attention to the toxic chemicals being dumped in America’s rivers.
6. 180 South
For those who dream of Patagonia. This film shows Jeff Johnson attempting to follow the legendary 1968 journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to climb Cerro Corcovado. This film is available to rent online, watch the trailer below.
7. A Line in The Sky
Another film with gorgeous views of Patagonia, this time watch as rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold attempt to cross all 7 peaks in the Fitz Roy Traverse in one go. Watch both parts here, and watch the trailer below.
Take a deep dive into the majesty of trees with fascinating footage and beautiful music. Watch the full film below.
9. Elk River
Follow the migration of Elk in America’s Northern Great Plains toward Yellowstone. A photographer, scientist, and artist all join to retrace a similar expedition from 1871 that combined art and science to study American species. Watch the full film below.
10. The Important Places
Join a father and son as they journey down the Colorado river and rekindle their connection with nature. Watch it here.
11. Where Life Begins
Learn more about the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge in Alaska against oil drilling and the inseparable connection between the caribou and the Gwich’in. Don’t miss this film’s unique editing and unforgettable scenery of Alaska.
12. The Islands and the Whales
Dive into a pressing conflict in the remote Faroe Islands where the traditional way of life is being threatened,, all while the looming effects of ocean pollution are putting the health of the whales—and those who depend on them—at risk. This film is available for rent online. Watch the trailer here.
13. When Lambs become Lions
Wildlife trafficking has decimated populations of wild African elephants. This film looks to the human side of this struggle: those who protect and those who hunt. When Lambs become Lions can be purchased online. Watch the trailer below.
14. The Guardians
This film takes a closer look at human-wildlife conflict in Namibia and how conservation travel can make a difference. Conservation Travel is defined as sustainable tourism that provides the traveler a connection with nature and communities and supports its protection by incentivizing communities and governments, engaging travelers and harnessing industry’s financial flows to support priority conservation projects.
15. Fisherman’s Son
This is the story of how world-famous surfer Ramón Navarro found his calling while growing up on the Chilean coastline and how he works to protect it today. Watch the full film below.