Submissions for our 2024 Festival are now closed.

Bertie Gregory

Bertie Gregory, Filmmaker: Wild Life: Resurrection Island

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.


Films with these broad topics are generally considered by ACFF:

  • Climate Change
  • Consumption & Waste
  • Energy
  • Environmental Justice
  • Conservation Family Fare
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Health & Well-being
  • Conservation History & Heroes
  • Marine Life
  • Freshwater
  • Wildlife & Wild Places
  • Indigenous Culture

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

Sarah Koenigsberg

Sarah Koenigsberg, Filmmaker: The Beaver Believers

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Green Fire Award


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

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

Student Filmmaker Award

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.

Super Short Award

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.

Audience Choice Award

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.


The ACFF Selection Committee accepts a wide variety of film genres with the unifying element being conservation. Films may address environmental issues, highlight cultural preservation, focus on appreciation of the natural world, detail scientific break-throughs that impact sustainability or trace the history of a conservation hero. Topics in the past have included climate change, consumption and waste, cultural connections, energy, food and agriculture, health and well-being, history and heroes, marine life, rivers and streams, wildlife and wild places. If you are unsure if your film would be a good fit for ACFF, please email us with a brief summary. We are happy to offer guidance.

Conservation Film – Short

Independently produced films and films produced for broadcast (narrative, fiction or documentary) that use the power of imagery to inform and inspire audiences to become engaged in environmental conservation issues. This category includes films with a running time of 40 minutes or less, including credits.

Student Conservation Short Film

Student conservation films (narrative, fiction or documentary) use the power of imagery to inform and inspire audiences to become engaged in conservation. Students must be enrolled in an accredited high school, undergraduate or graduate school during completion of the film within the past two years. Student films must not have been produced as a work for hire. Students must provide the name of an accredited school and contact information for the student’s advisor. Films with a run time of 40 minutes or less will be considered.

2024 Entry Fees

Early bird $25 // Regular $30 // Late $35

Student films: $5

Dates & Deadlines

May 15, 2023 – Opening Date

June 30, 2023 – Early Bird Deadline ($25 short film and $5 student shorts)

July 31, 2023 – Regular Deadline ($30 short film and $5 student shorts)

October 1, 2023 – Late Deadline ($35 short film and $5 student shorts)

January 31, 2024 – Notification Date

March 7 – 10, 2024 – Festival Dates

Submission Guidelines

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 for screening at public venues and/or through a secure, online 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 .scc, .srt or .vtt format
• A digital press kit including promotional film stills in high resolution jpg format, a short synopsis, filmmaker bio and headshot
• A link to a publicly-accessible streamable trailer, preferably on Vimeo
• 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,editing, production value and relevance of the topic are principal factors in the selection of films for ACFF. One of the elements selection committee members look for is careful editing. While fully respecting artistic license, if given the choice between a long cut and shorter cut, the team usually opts for the version that conveys the message in a concise manner.

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 the academic advisor on the project.

Notification Date: January 31, 2024

Contact Information:

Hilary Lo, ACFF Festival Director

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