Conservation Optimism is built on the belief that empowering everyone to make a difference for nature, while also learning from successes and failures within the conservation sector, is key to securing our planet’s future.

We are calling all filmmakers to send us short films featuring stories of hope from around the globe. Have you been inspired by someone taking action for nature in your community? Have you witnessed some conservation successes? Have you learned from conservation failures? We want to hear from you!

Our fourth film festival will take place on the evening of July 8th 2022 at the Oxford Museum of Natural History (date to be confirmed closer to the time). We will be selecting short films for the following categories:

- Student (email us at stating your current course of study for a fee waiver password)
- Animation
- People & Nature
- Life on Earth

Judges for this edition of the festival are:

- Jonnie Hughes: Jonnie is a multi-award-winning producer/director, who has worked with Silverback Films since 2012 and was the creative lead on the Our Planet ‘Halo’. He was producer/director of the phenomenally successful David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, and co-author with Sir David of the accompanying book. Most recently he was series producer of the BBC landmark series, The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet.

-Lucy Lapwing: Lucy is a self-described nature nerd, naturalist and lover of all things wild. Working in conservation and campaigning, she's passionate about connecting people to the weird, freaky, beautiful and funny species we share our lives with through science communication.

- Alan Barillaro: Alan is the Academy Award winning Writer and Director of the Animated Short-Film, “Piper.” Alan has been honored with an ASIFA-Hollywood Award, an ICFF Award for Outstanding Career and in 2018, Alan was recognized by House Commons of Canada for his artistic and cultural contribution to the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Alan began his career in animation at 16 years of age and joined Pixar Animation Studios in January 1997 where he worked for nearly 25 years, animating on feature films, from “A Bug’s Life” to “Lightyear.” Alan took the role of Directing Animator for “Finding Nemo” and the role of Supervising Animator for “The Incredibles,” “WALL•E,” “Brave” and “Incredibles 2.” In 2021 he directed the TV Series short, “Chore Day – The Incredibles Way.” Alan Barillaro currently resides in British Columbia, Canada with his family.

- Dr. Paula Kahumbu: Paula Kahumbu is one of Africa’s best-known wildlife conservationists. She is the CEO of WildlifeDirect and brainchild of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign with Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. The campaign is widely recognized for its singular successes in advocacy and the engagement of the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants. She is the producer and host of Africa’s first wildlife documentary series made by Africans for Africans called Wildlife Warriors. Paula is the winner of the Whitley Award Gold Award 2021, ROLEX National Geographic Explorer of the Year for 2021, The Whitley Award 2014, National Geographic Howard Buffet Award for conservation leadership in Africa in 2010 and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She received a special commendation at the United Nations Person of the Year celebrations for her critical role in creating awareness and mobilizing action around the crisis facing elephants in Kenya. She is recognized as a Kenyan conservation ambassador by Brand Kenya and in 2015 received the Presidential Award and title of Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW). She is a trustee of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Maun Science Park Botswana. Paula received her PhD in Ecology from Princeton University where she studied elephants in coastal Kenya.

Mentors for this edition of the festival are:

- Sam Sutaria: Sam is VP, Strategy & Development at WaterBear Network and one of the founding team of WaterBear: the first interactive streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet. Sam leads the commercial strategy and business development of the network and production studio, and in just the last year has spearheaded partnerships with the New York Times, UN Foundation, Natura &Co, Nikon Europe, MAVA Foundation, Jack Wolfskin and more. Sam is also the host of WaterBear’s talk show: “The Bear Hug” and oversees the nonprofit arm of the group: the Resilient Foundation. Prior to WaterBear, Sam led the The European Nature Trust (TENT), produced at Nice and Serious and trained with the BBC Natural History Unit. He is also the Founder of social enterprise DrawFor, and a Trustee of the Barnes Film Festival and the Hartswood Trust.

- Osnat Shurer: Osnat Shurer is producer of the Academy Award®-nominated films, “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Moana.” Shurer joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2012 as vice president of development, working with filmmakers to move features and shorts through the creative process. Previously, she served as the executive producer of the shorts group at Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for Pixar’s short films. Prior to joining Pixar in 2002, Shurer produced and directed film and television in various mediums – live action, animation, live television and various interactive presentations for museums. She worked on documentaries and narrative films throughout the world, in such places as India, China, Tibet, Japan, Africa and Europe, with directors ranging from Michelangelo Antonioni to Alfonso Cuarón.

- Pete Cooper: Pete is a lifelong naturalist who works professionally as an ecologist and conservationist for the Derek Gow Consultancy, an organisation specialising in native species reintroductions and rewilding. Pete is responsible for overseeing conservation breeding and reintroduction programmes for species including glow-worms, harvest mice and wildcats and guiding within a wilding area using large herbivores such as beavers and iron age pigs. Keen to ensure as many people as possible can develop a respect and love for the natural world, he is an enthusiastic nature writer and now runs a TikTok with thousands of followers designed to engage an awareness for wildlife and conservation through bite-size content that is in equal parts amusing and informative.

- Lucy Bailey: Lucy is a multi-award-winning director and producer. Her documentaries span the genres of natural history, documentary, anthropology and medicine. She has worked for the BBC, National Geographic, YouTube, Channel 4 and Comic Relief, travelling around the world making both long from documentaries and short films as well as working for NGOs. The critically acclaimed ‘Mugabe and the White African’, was her first feature-length documentary. This multi-award-winning cinema film gained Lucy a film BAFTA nomination for ‘Outstanding directorial debut’, won a Grierson, BIFA, Silverdocs grand jury prize, Camera Justicia Human Rights film award, and was also Emmy nominated and Oscar-shortlisted. She holds an MA in Anthropology and Geography.

"Judging on Conservation Optimism for me was great. Seeing such a range of films, covering a broad range of styles and topics was fantastic. Films like these really can make a difference, grabbing new audiences, educating and inspiring change." - Luke Massey, 2021 Judge and Wildlife Photographer and Cameraman

“Alli Sadegiani [2021 Mentor] was very generous with his advice and even offered an additional session to show me the ropes with a new animating software which he thought would help advance my work. I found it really enlightening to learn about life as a professional animator and how he was animating the characters in some of my favourite films!” – Lauren Cook, 2021 Overall Winner

“The Film Festival was a great experience! It was useful to be connected to the Conservation Optimism team and have our networks connect in a way that may not otherwise have happened. It was sad that we couldn’t do it in person at a physical event, but the virtual festival worked well and allowed our international audience to be involved as well. Having the mentoring session with Damon Gameau [2020 Mentor] was very useful. We are still in touch and opportunities are still developing from it, which is exciting. I hope to get involved again next year!” – Leo Plunkett, 2020 Conservation Optimism Film Winner

“In the mentoring session, Lucie Muir [2019 Mentor] gave me advice on my films, helped me get work experience on natural history programmes and helped me to make contacts. She is a wonderful person and gave me a great boost in the industry. And to this day, she is still looking out for me. I really could not imagine a better mentor!”- Yaz Ellis, 2019 Winner for Student Film

1h to 1h30 mentoring sessions with experts!

We strongly encourage you review the following carefully. By submitting your short film, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to all of the following rules and terms. All short films that have been submitted by our final deadline and that adhere to the following terms will be considered for inclusion in the Good Natured: A Conservation Optimism Short Film Festival.

If you have any further questions, please contact Julia Migné at


All short films must be uploaded directly to FilmFreeway. We won’t accept DVD or Blu-Ray screeners. In addition, we cannot accept screener links via email, they must be attached to your submission. To be eligible, the short films must be under five minutes and fit within one of our categories.


All foreign-language films must be submitted with English subtitles. If we discover a submission is missing subtitles, we will attempt to email the submitter for an update. Failure to provide working subtitles by the final submission deadline will result in disqualification.


Please review all submission categories carefully before submitting your project. If you believe you have submitted your film to the wrong category, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Submission of one film into multiple categories is not allowed but we allow the submissions of up to two films in different categories. Note that only one of your films will be selected so please read our category descriptions carefully to determine where your submission belongs.


All projects must have been completed on or after 2019 to be considered for the 2022 Conservation Optimism Short Film Festival.


Please keep track of the deadline closely and note that all short films must be submitted by the deadline.


All works selected must be available by May 31st 2022 for inclusion in the festival.

Should your short film be accepted in the Good Natured: A Conservation Optimism Short Film Festival, you grant Conservation Optimism the right to utilise a 30 seconds excerpt from any short film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes.

All shortlisted films will screen during the festival and if selected, filmmakers may opt-in so that films will be available to watch online as part of our virtual film festival if the filmmaker opts. All scheduling is purely at the discretion of Conservation Optimism.


Good Natured: A Conservation Optimism Short Film Festival does not pay screening fees for submitted short films. By submitting your project, you acknowledge that Conservation Optimism will not pay to present your work. The shortlisted participants will have to pay for their travel to reach Oxford but won’t have to pay any registration fee to attend the film festival.


By entering your film for consideration to the 2021 Good Natured: A Conservation Optimism Short Film Festival, you authorise that your work is cleared for festival exhibition and accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. The submitter and all filmmakers associated with the project shall indemnify and hold harmless Conservation Optimism and any representative or affiliates from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.


Conservation Optimism reserves the right to disqualify any submission, even after a film has been invited or final programming has been announced, at the sole discretion of Conservation Optimism staff.

Overall Rating
  • Sherene Strausberg

    Fabulous festival! The amazing people running this festival communicate well and bring an excellent crowd of people to attend. It's also nice that they have Jury awards, with mentorship for the prize, in addition to audience awards. The location of the screening is excellent and their overall positive message is wonderful! Highly recommend this festival to other filmmakers doing films related to science and conservation.

    July 2022
  • Simon Dures

    Wonderful festival, especially for new and aspiring conservation documentary film makers. It is a real feel good festival, a very refreshing change from the doom and gloom so often associated with conservation. Thoroughly enjoyed both the submission process and the festival.

    November 2021
  • Megan Hockin-Bennett

    What a wonderful collection of people and pieces on show here! Just what we all need. Some positivity! I wasn't able to be there in person but sent some friends along and they has the best time! I was so honoured to have won runner up for people and nature! My only advice, next year make it three times the size! haha! Well done to all involved, really positive forward thinking all round! Contracts to everyone that worked super hard!

    November 2021
  • Beth Francis

    Great festival, really enjoyed it :)

    June 2020
  • They pulled off a great and speedy adaptation to an online format for the coronavirus pandemic. I loved being a part of this, and it was amazing to see all the other films!

    June 2020