The Matsalu Nature Film Festival (MAFF) is an annual nature film event held in Estonia. It has been named after the nearby Matsalu National Park, which is one of largest bird sanctuaries in Europe. MAFF is organized by the Matsalu Nature Film Festival non-profit organization in cooperation with the Lääneranna municipal government. The festival promotes nature-oriented and sustainable ways of life and respect for the nature-connected traditions of indigenous people. It showcases a variety of new international films about nature, wildlife, environment, sustainability, biodiversity, conservation - films that depict nature in its diversity and films about the coexistence of man and nature.

Traditionally, the festival features various art and nature photography exhibitions, photo presentations and meetings of both professional and amateur photographers. The program includes also screenings, activities and workshops for schoolchildren, roundtable discussions on different nature-related topics and other cultural events.

MAFF takes place in the tiny town of Lihula in Western Estonia. A selection of films are shown in Haapsalu, Pärnu, Tallinn and Noarootsi.

• Festival Grand Prix
• First Prize (one in each category)
• Best Director (one in each category)
• Best Cinematography (one in each category)
• Best Editing
• Special Jury Prize (one in each category)
• Special Mentions
• Audience Award
• Special Prizes

The 18th MAFF Call for Entries is open from January 1st to May 1st 2020.

MAFF considers creative documentaries (15+ min) completed after January 1, 2018. NOTE: The Festival does not accept fiction!

Films can be submitted in one of two categories:
- NATURE - films that depict nature in its diversity.
- MAN AND NATURE - films that depict the coexistence of human activities and nature, man’s relationship to nature, nature conservation etc.

Films may have been previously entered in other, similar festivals.

Films that have been submitted for consideration in previous years are not eligible, not even if the film has changed significantly since the last time it was submitted.

The number of entries by one author is not limited.

Films will be presented with English dialogue or in their original versions with English subtitles. We advise you to also subtitle films if they are spoken in English which is hard to grasp for non-native speakers, i.e. an accent or slang.

Participation at the Festival is free of charge.

Entrant guarantees that third parties have no claim on the submitted films.

Acceptable preview screener must be a private/password-protected and downloadable MP4 or MOV (max 5 GB) file of the English version. We do not accept entries that are viewable in public domain!

Each entry must be accompanied by the items below:
- at least two (2) publicity stills from the film
- full production credits
- director's/presenter's contact (e-mail & postal address)
- film synopsis max 100 words
- trailer (online link)
- time-cued subtitle file (in English) either in .srt or .txt format (if any)
- list of species in Latin (if any) 

If the film does not meet all of these requirements, it will not be eligible for selection.

It is important to enter your films as early as possible! The Festival is not in obligation to view late entries! 

Selection Process

The Selection Committee appointed by the Organizers will make the selection from the entries. MAFF selects some 100 new nature films each year, divided into competition and regular programs.

Entrants will be notified via FilmFreeway of their selection or rejection to the Festival by August 1, 2020. MAFF is under no obligation to provide comments or feedback regarding the submitted film to the applicant or any other representative of the submitted film.

Participant shall not withdraw his/her film from the Festival once the selection is confirmed by the Festival.

Finalists will be selected from among the official selection by August 20, 2020. Finalists will be informed about the selection via email. Non-competing films will be divided into regular programs.

The full list of films admitted to the program will be published on the Festival website by September 1, 2020.

Full details on all films and program information will be announced on the Festival website by September 10, 2020.

Competing films are judged by an international jury of six members, who are filmmakers and nature experts. The jury will award the following prizes:
- Festival Grand Prix (Grant of 3000 Euros)
- First Prize (one in each category)
- Best Director (one in each category)
- Best Cinematography (one in each category)
- Best Editing
- Special Jury Prize (one in each category)
- Special Mentions
All entries selected to the program will receive a participation certificate.

Screening and Promotion

The screening copies may be digital files, such as MP4 and MOV files.

All screening copies must reach the Organizers by August 20, 2020 at the latest.

All films selected to the program will be screened only at the Festival events. Any additional screenings outside the Festival events shall require a separate prior consent expressed by the producer or distributor.

Participant consents to the Organizers publishing information about the film on the festival website as well as in all printed festival (such as the catalogue, the program, leaflets, etc.) and press materials.

Participant consents for noncommercial Festival purposes, media, television stations and partner Internet portals may be granted access to film materials (stills, information), trailers or film excerpts of a max 3 minutes.

All preview copies will remain in the Festival archives and will be exclusively used for the Festival promotional events and in educational purposes.

Accommodation Expenses

With each film selected to the competition program one person - director, producer, cinematographer, distributor or official representative - is invited to attend the Festival. The Organizers will cover the costs for accommodation during the Festival September 16-20, 2020 and transfers between Tallinn and the Festival places. Contributions to travelling expenses are not included in the payments made to participants.

Final Provisions

Copyright: Submitting the films to the Festival the participants are simultaneously agreed to permit entries to be shown during the Festival without any charge to the Festival Organizers.

Overall Rating
  • Bruno Chatelin

    Strongly recommending, everything was top notch professional, and I am not saying only because our film won grand prix and audience winner. Thank you Matsalu Bruno Chatelin curator of the best for fests.

    September 2019
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Bruno Chatelin for your kind words!

  • Pat Fiske

    MAFF screened our film OYSTER at their festival and were very informative about what was happening. Whilst we could not make the screening we did get photos and great feedback from our screening.
    Thanks MAFF

    October 2018
  • Matej Vranic

    Excellent film festival in Estonia!

    September 2018
  • Krzysztof Sarapata

    Jak na razie najlepszy festiwal w jakim miałem okazję wziąc udział. Matsalu to cudowne miejsce ze wspaniałymi ludźmi. Ogólne wrażenie bardzo dobre.

    So far the best festival I've ever had the chance to take part in. Matsalu is a wonderful place with wonderful people. Overall impression very good.

    October 2017
  • Sofia Leonidova

    Прекрасные люди, прекрасный фестиваль, в прекрасном национальном парке. Небольшой, но максимально уютный и радушный. Организаторы предоставили жилье и кормили. Единственное хотелось бы больше залов и больше авторов - есть куда расти :)

    October 2017