Jackson Wild showcases the best in nature and science documentary

KHOL film critic Jeff Counts speaks with festival director Lisa Samford about this flagship event
A still from the film “Once Upon a Time in Tsavo” by Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble, this year's Jackson Wild Legacy Award winners. (Deeble & Stone)

by | Sep 26, 2023 | Culture, Film & TV

There’s a major international film festival happening right now here in Jackson – and the stars have feathers and fur. 

Now in its 32nd year, the Jackson Wild Summit showcases documentary productions from the worlds of nature, science and climate storytelling. It’s an industry festival –  focusing on career development and networking for filmmakers and production and distribution companies. But a lot of the films premiering at this gathering will soon be making their way to PBS, Netflix and your living room. 

KHOL film critic Jeff Counts recently sat down with outgoing Executive Director Lisa Samford to learn more.

“That first year in 1991, it was small and scrappy out at Snow King. This year we will have 500 to 600 filmmakers, commissioners, wildlife organizations and scientists from around the world coming in for the week,” Samford explained.

The festival highlight is the film competition, with over 150 judges viewing over 900 projects. This is the first time the festival has been in Jackson since 2019. 

Samford is most excited about getting the chance to take in the film “Once Upon a Time in Tsavo”  a documentary about the symbiosis between elephants and termites at an African waterhole.  She’ll be watching the film with the filmmakers themselves, Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble. 

“They’ve won the Grand Teton Award a couple of times and many other awards because they’re just that good. And I’ve specifically not seen their film so that I could watch it with them,” Samford explained.

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Jackson Wild Executive Director Lisa Samford. Jackson Wild runs now through Sept 28. More information at jacksonwild.org. 

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