“Bears of Durango” received dual awards during a ceremony at the 41st annual International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) on Saturday, April 21st. Of 150 films screened during the festival, Bears of Durango is honored to be the recipient of both the Best Human-Wildlife Interaction Film and Spirit Award.
Bears of Durango won the coveted Best Human-Wildlife Interaction Film for depicting the effects of expanding human development on bear populations. The 2018 inaugural Spirit Award was designated for best capturing the spirit of IWFF, the longest running wildlife film festival in the world.
The 41st annual International Wildlife Film Festival hosted hundreds of filmmakers, scientists, conservationists and enthusiasts. On Sunday, April 15th, Bears of Durango premiered to a sold-out, standing room only crowd at the Roxy Theater. Despite extra chairs being hauled in and people willingly standing to watch the film premiere, the festival still had to turn people away. Due to popular demand, a second screening was added at the Roxy on Saturday, April 21st, where another large crowd gathered to watch the film and hear from Bears of Durango filmmaker, Dusty Hulet.
Hulet follows researchers headfirst into bear dens, and tells the story of Bears of Durango through one of the most comprehensive research projects to date. 15-percent of the film is comprised of home videos submitted by Durango-area residents, capturing a widespread issue for communities bordering bear habitat.
“We are incredibly inspired by the response to Bears of Durango at IWFF,” says Dusty Hulet. “We saw firsthand its potential to start a dialogue about local issues, community engagement, and science-based management practices. It’s a universal story that is playing out in Colorado, Montana, across North America, and beyond.”
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife study dispelled myths about bear behavior, while uncovering an alarming decline in the black bear population. Human-bear conflicts are on the rise, especially in areas with growing human populations expanding into the wildland interface. The film provides a well-timed look into the importance of studying and understanding how human actions influence the environment.
Bears of Durango also received the Audience Choice Award for a special event screening during the Durango International Film Festival, March 2018. The film continues its path toward distribution, and will spend the rest of the year on the festival circuit. For those interested in getting involved and supporting the project, please visit www.bearsofdurango.com.
About Bears of Durango
In 2011 Colorado Parks and Wildlife initiated one of the most comprehensive research projects to date, examining factors associated with increases in human-black bear conflicts. A team of wildlife researchers, led by Heather Johnson PhD, spent six years investigating the effects of expanding human development on bear populations. Dusty Hulet, a filmmaker based in Salt Lake City, spent three years following Heather and her team, and tells the story of the “Bears of Durango” in this feature-length documentary. Visit www.bearsofdurango.com to learn more.
The IWFF is an annual wildlife and conservation themed film festival held each April in scenic Missoula, Montana. Founded in 1977 at the University of Montana, the vision of the IWFF is to foster an engaged, enlightened community that finds itself through cinema, and helps the planet to heal.
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