Trailblazers & Heroes Program

Douglas Tompkins: A Wild Legacy
Best Conservation Hero, 2016
Directors: Q Martin, Chris Cresci
USA, 2016, 16m
Douglas Tompkins was a world-renowned adventurer, entrepreneur, and conservationist. Co-founder of The North Face and Esprit, Doug spent the first half of his life building global brands, while simultaneously adventuring around the world. In 1968 Doug embarked to the tip of Patagonia – the trip solidified Doug’s place as a rock climbing legend. In the early 1990s Doug moved to Chile to do conservation work full time with his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. Together, they have protected 2.2 million acres, more land than any other individuals. A Wild Legacy tells the story of Doug’s incredible life, his lasting impact on the wild landscapes of Patagonia, and Kris and the Tompkins Conservation team’s efforts to continue his audacious mission.

Grizzly Country
Best Conservation Hero 2019
Director: Ben Moon
USA, 2018, 12m
After serving in the Vietnam War, author and eco-warrior Doug Peacock spent years alone in the Wyoming and Montana wilderness observing grizzly bears. This time in the wild changed the course of his life. With the protection of Yellowstone grizzlies now under threat, Peacock reflects on the importance of habitat and why he continues to fight for wild causes. 

Best in Festival 2018
Director: Brett Morgen
USA, 2017, 90m

Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that had been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for more than 50 years, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Set to a rich orchestral score from legendary composer Philip Glass, the film offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of Goodall.

No Friends but the Mountains
Best Student Film 2016
Director: Joosung Kwon
UK, 2016, 35m
Hana Raza, a conservationist in Iraq, struggles to preserve the pristine nature of her homeland from the destructive effects of war and unregulated economic development. Her parents took up arms against the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. Now she fights to protect the animals and the environment of Iraq.

Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark
Best Conservation Film 2018
Director: Chun-Wei Yi
USA, 2017, 54m
Renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is in search of endangered animals to document for his unprecedented “Photo Ark.” The project reaches a milestone when Joel photographs his 5,000th species, the Persian leopard, in Budapest. In the Czech Republic, in one of the film’s most poignant moments, Joel photographs the rarest rhinoceros in the world. In New Zealand’s wild South Island Joel tags along a Rowi kiwi egg rescue.

Shark Girl
Best Advocacy 2015
Directors: Gisela Kaufmann & Carsten Orlt
2014, 46m
For the young Madison Stewart, nothing feels safer or more natural than diving straight into shark-infested waters. Since childhood, growing up by the Great Barrier Reef, she’s treated these predators as family. But they’re vanishing from existence, and because of their bad reputation, few people seem to care. Follow Madison on her mission to protect our sharks, a battle that began when she put her studies on hold, grabbed a camera, and set out to save these incredible, misunderstood creatures.

Best Environmental 2019
Directors: Anjali Nayar, Hawa Essuman
Canada, 2017, 80m
Liberian activist Silas Siakor is a tireless crusader against illegal logging and corruption. Through this focus on one small country, “Silas” warns of the power of politics, features the role of technology in our rapidly-changing world and highlights the impact one person can make to change the system from the ground up.  

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes
Best Trailblazer 2020
Director: Alison Reid
Canada, 2018, 52m
In 1956 at the age of 23, Anne Innis Dagg made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to become the first person in the world to study animal behaviour in the wild on that continent. When she returned home a year later armed with ground-breaking research, the insurmountable barriers she faced as a female scientist proved much harder to overcome.

What’s Motivating Hayes
Conservation Hero Award 2016
Director: Jonathan Demme
USA, 2015, 15m
In 1998, the agribusiness now known as Syngenta asked UC Berkeley biologist Tyrone Hayes to study the effects of its herbicide atrazine on frogs. When his research found that atrazine impairs the reproductive organs of frogs, Syngenta launched a full-scale campaign to discredit Hayes, even going as far as investigating his wife and his finances. Hayes, who grew up collecting reptiles and amphibians in South Carolina’s ditches before finishing at the top of his class in Harvard, could have easily backed down to avoid the corporation’s wrath. Instead, he risked his reputation, career and livelihood for the sake of science and the future of amphibians. What’s Motivating Hayes? offers a glimpse into the kind of individual we need more of in today’s world: unwavering, courageous and willing to fight for what is right.