Sun Valley Film Festival: Snowy Peaks, Stars, and Wild to Inspire films


Along with snowy mountains and celebrity sightings (see below!), the seventh annual Sun Valley Film Festival hosted five days of films in March, including The Embodiment of Hope, which won the 5th annual Nat Geo Wild to Inspire contest. This contest was a partnership between Nat Geo Wild, Sun Valley Film Festival, and Submittable to collect documentary films about animal lovers and their relationship to the natural world. Submittable team member Cory Davis traveled to the festival to attend the Wild to Inspire awards ceremony—and catch up on some new flicks.

1. How was the festival? How would you describe it to someone who’s never attended?

Image on the road from Missoula to Sun Valley.

Sun Valley is a ski town with lots of energy and a very cool vibe. I had the great experience of driving in from Missoula—you go over these amazing peaks and see the rocky tops of giant mountains. It’s really impressive, a very special landscape. The festival itself was top-notch: all of the events were within a few blocks of each other and the size was perfect for getting to connect authentically with people. It wasn’t overwhelming like Sundance or Tribeca can be—it was intimate. I got to meet Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Bosworth, Jay Duplass, and so many other people directly and indirectly involved in the film world.

Every single person there was passionate about film. I met newer filmmakers looking to meet people, get pointers, find opportunities. More established people were looking to connect with each other. Producers were out seeking new talent. It was an excellent opportunity for everyone to network, and also a chance for many people to actually enjoy the fruits of their labor by seeing their film screened and connecting with an audience.

2. What were some of the highlights?

The festival did a great job of selecting films that were passion projects for people that are already established. Kate Bosworth showed the film Nona, which she produced—it seemed to mean a lot for her to have this high-level yet intimate forum for premiering her movie. I enjoyed Jane, about Jane Goodall who has this incredible passion for animals and through her desire to understand them was able to make so many connections and breakthroughs. I also got to see Outside In by Jay Duplass and Lynn Shelton, a moving film about life after prison, and I attended a talk by musician Andrew Bird, who did the original score for the move.

3. Where does Submittable fit in?

Nat Geo filmmakers talking about the process of making a film with Nat Geo Wild.

It was amazing to be at the ceremony where the Nat Geo Wild to Inspire awards were presented. I think both Nat Geo and the Sun Valley Film Festival were really pleased with the quality of entries. Plus, I was able to speak with one of the finalists who found out about the contest through an email he received from Submittable. That’s really cool. I was at Sun Valley to learn more about the film industry and share what Submittable can offer, in terms of software, opportunities, marketing. It was a great educational experience and Submittable is well-positioned to serve this community.

Looking for film opportunities? Sign up (or update your preferences) for Submishmash weekly, and check out these monthly listings on the Submittable blog. Also, we’re seeking blog contributions focused on film and filmmakers—like these 5 tips for submitting to film festivals. We’d love to hear from you!

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a content creator and strategist for Submittable's marketing and product teams. She also writes and teaches poetry. You can find Rachel's creative work here: