*ACFF will accept only short film submissions of 40 minutes and under for our 21st year.* Screening films from all over the world, the American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) is an annual event held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a vibrant, arts-focused community 70 miles west of the nation’s capital.

ACFF considers submitted non-fiction and fiction films, provided the theme is driven by environmental or cultural conservation. Of special interest are the myriad ways humans interact with wildlife and wild places, issues driven by natural resource conservation, humans as part of the environment, living in a continuum of cultural tradition, lifestyles in conjunction with changes in the natural world and how young people encounter and understand the natural world. The motivating force behind ACFF is the power of film to engage, inform and inspire.

The 2024 Festival plans to utilize live venues providing screenings for a broad range of conservation films, some of which rarely receive a wide showing. Pending filmmaker permissions, films may also be included in our online streaming offerings with closed captions available for each film. Check out this short from 2019's Festival to learn more about ACFF - https://vimeo.com/544737449

Green Fire Award - $1,000
Our most prestigious award, The Green Fire Award, named in honor of Aldo Leopold, is bestowed upon the film that exhibits an extraordinary level of excellence in filmmaking and helps us look anew at our relationship with our environment. Films are selected on the strength of their conservation message, storytelling, and visual impact.

Green Spark Award - $500
One Green Spark award will be granted annually. This award is reserved for films that distinguish themselves in one of three ways:
• by drawing attention to a conservation hero
• by highlighting a pathway to environmental sustainability
• by inspiring the next generation that will take on conservation challenges

Super Short Award - $500
In recognition of the new media landscape since the advent of streaming and the proliferation of social media in which conservation awareness campaigns are often waged using very short films. This award will acknowledge concise storytelling and good editing in films under five minutes.

Student Filmmaker Award - $500
Supporting new and emerging filmmakers is a major tenet of ACFF. We actively encourage student filmmakers to submit their work for review and potential inclusion in the festival. The Student Filmmaker Award Winner receives a $500 cash prize sponsored by Friends of the National Conservation Training Center.

Audience Choice Award - $500
Attendees vote for their favorite film of the festival! This film is often honored with multiple screenings at Best of Festival events throughout the year.

Films with these broad topics are generally considered by ACFF:

Climate Change
Consumption and Waste
Environmental Justice
Conservation Family Fare
Food and Agriculture
Health and Well-Being
Conservation History and Heroes
Marine Life
Wildlife and Wild Places
Indigenous Culture

ACFF encourages the submission of films that offer diverse voices and youthful perspectives in conservation as well as projects created by under-represented filmmakers.

Because submission of a film constitutes acceptance of these terms and conditions by filmmakers and their agents, please review the following carefully.

ACFF considers submitted films from all over the world and in all genres, provided they have a conservation theme. All films being submitted to ACFF shall have completed production after May 15, 2021 and may be duplicated for internal use by the selection committee and board of directors.

ACFF’s preferred method of submission is by secure online screener via ACFF’s FilmFreeway account. Films with non-English soundtracks must be submitted with embedded subtitles.

All officially selected films and materials solicited by ACFF will be programmed into the Festival to be screened in public venues and/or via a secure, online streaming platform.

If your submission is a student production, be sure to submit it as such. A student is defined as one who is enrolled at an accredited high school, undergraduate, or graduate school. A student is not required to be a film or video major, but must include their school, year of study, advisor's name and email. No student production will be considered if produced as a work for hire.

ACFF is not responsible for notifying any parties other than the entrant, through its listed contact person, of entry status or of any questions or determinations regarding the entry.

It is the sole responsibility of the entity submitting the project to secure permission from the copyright holders of the material contained in the film.

Multiple entries will be accepted provided they are submitted individually.

Entrants may re-submit a film submitted in the past that was not accepted as long as the film has been completed in the past 2 years.

If your film is officially selected, you may be asked to provide:
• A high resolution film file downloadable via Dropbox, Google Drive, We Transfer or Vimeo that is 1920×1080 pixels, 23.97 fps, 48 kHz Audio, progressive scan in mp4 format
• An English language closed caption file in .srt format
• A digital press kit including promotional film stills in high resolution jpg format, a short synopsis, filmmaker bio and headshot
• A 1920x1080p downloadable trailer file in mp4 format

Note: If materials are not submitted by the applicable deadline, we reserve the right to secure substitute materials from other sources.

Films that are selected by ACFF are chosen by a committee of media and conservation professionals. The quality of storytelling, production value and relevance of topic are principle factors in the selection of films for ACFF.

All entries must include the following:
(1) A secure, online screener completed within the past two years
(2) Contact information for the filmmaker or person handling the submission, including name, mailing address and email
(3) A short synopsis of the film
(4) Student filmmakers must provide school affiliation, year of project completion, as well as contact info for academic advisor on the project.

Please see our website for additional submission information. http://conservationfilmfest.org/submit/

Overall Rating
  • Day's Edge Productions

    As science & conservation filmmakers, this is one of our favorite festivals to be submit to and be a part of year after year. The programming and film lineup is top notch and the communication and value is stellar. Highly recommend this festival to all filmmakers!

    April 2021
  • Carter Kirilenko

    I would highly recommend American Conservation Film Festival!! They go the extra distance to ensure their festival experience is inclusive and accessible to all. I was extremely pleased with the effort that was put into amplifying the stories of emerging student filmmakers. I look forward to submitting my films to ACFF next year!

    April 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Carter! You were a delight to work with and your film moved so many of our audience members. We're looking forward to seeing your future projects and hopefully meeting you in person post-pandemic!

  • Lizzie Bankowski

    The American Conservation Film Festival is a great place for anyone who is excited and interested to learn more about a range of environmental topics!!! If you're a filmmaker considering submitting or attending, the folks at ACFF are SO generous to their filmmakers. They were kind enough to offer us a travel stipend that helped our team of student filmmakers attend. We would likely not have been able to make it without their financial assistance. We are SO GRATEFUL!

    November 2019
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Lizzie! Your team's dedication and enthusiasm for the art of documentary filmmaking were clear to all of us at ACFF. Supporting the work of emerging filmmakers is part of our mission and we were happy to help your team travel here for the screening.

  • Kent Wagner

    Fantastic experience year after year!

    October 2019
    Response from festival:

    So happy to have you with us again, Kent! Keep up the great work!

  • Jimmy Evans

    An amazing weekend of inspiring films and talks from talented, passionate individuals. Attending the ACFF involves more than just the opportunity to see the films and hear the talks – it allows you to join a community of kind, passionate, supportive people all working tirelessly to help save the world through film. If you are someone looking to make an environmental impact with video, the ACFF will provide you with the knowledge, expertise and inspiration to do so.

    October 2017
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, James! We hope to see many of your engaging film projects in the years to come.