United Plant Savers’ Inaugural Film Festival Launches Now – Award Winners Announced

Saging the World film poster
Grand Prize Gladstar Award winner “Saging the World” by Rose Ramirez, Deborah Small, David Bryant (US)

RUTLAND, OH—Appalachian-based nonprofit, United Plant Savers (UpS), is launching its first ever film festival this month, the International Herb Symposium (IHS) Film & Photography Festival. This year’s award-winning films and photographs are available to stream online from today through September 25, 2022. Other festival selections will be available in the online viewing room this Friday, July 1.

This event may be the only time plant lovers, environmentalists, and activists get the chance to view many of the nearly 50 films and photographs that were selected. Submissions were received from across the globe—from Turkey, to France, to Brazil, to the US, and Canada. The festival occurs in the years in between the Symposium itself, which had to be held virtually due to the pandemic in 2021 but is planned for an in-person revival in June 2023. This project is also in collaboration with Boreal Night.

 “Not knowing what to expect in our first year, we were floored by the quality of the submissions,” said festival co-director, Susan Leopold. “Plants are the solution for the challenging issues that we’re facing today, and it seems more important than ever to amplify these stories of resilience and transformation.”

Film Festival tickets are $20 and may be purchased here

Or Film Festival tickets are free for anyone who is already a Symposium participant. To access the hundreds of Symposium workshops and plant walks online and get a free film fest ticket, register here: https://internationalherbsymposium.teachable.com/. All proceeds from IHS and the Film Festival go to supporting UpS’ mission.

“The IHS Film Festival represents an important evolution,” said Glenn Axford, festival co-director. “We’ve provided a curated platform to share the creative talents of filmmakers who want to express their passions and concerns for our natural world. We’re grateful to the artists who are allowing us to share their films globally.”


This year’s festival includes cash prizes for winning films and photographs. The categories and winners are as follows:

 GRAND PRIZE GLADSTAR AWARD ($5,000)

Winner: “Saging the World” directed by Rose Ramirez, Deborah Small, David Bryant (US)

BEST FEATURE FILM ($1,000)

Winner: “Food Forest” directed by Louis De Jaeger (Belgium)

Runners-up ($250 each)

  • “Call of the Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees” directed by Jeffrey McKay (Canada)
  • “Twilight Zones” directed by Thomas Karrer (Switzerland)
  • “The Healing Herb” directed by Paul McCarroll, Kate McCarroll (Ireland)
  • “A Place to Breathe” directed by Michelle Grace Steinberg (US)

BEST SHORT FILM ($1,000)

Winner: “Food That Grows on Water” directed by Gabriel Laurence Cowan (US)

Runners-up ($250 each):

  • “Almost Visible” directed by Klea McKenna (US)
  • Memories of Trees. Toromiro: The Exiled” directed by Santiago Serrano (Chile)
  • “Women and Ginseng” produced by Clara Haizlett (US)

BEST STILL PHOTOGRAPHY ($500)

Steven Foster Best Still Photography Award: “Poppy on the Brink” by Shannon Murphy (US)

Runners-up ($125 each)

  • “Dear Rosewood, Please Don’t Die” by Blair Butterfield, Art of Cultural Evolution (US)
  • “Bloodroot” by Jess Fritz (US)
  • “Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)” by James Moore (US)

Honorable mentions (3):

  • Polygonatum” by Kim Webb (US)
  • “Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) with Wild Rose” by Frances Cleveland (US)
  • “Decomposition: The Space Between Seasons” by Jordan R. Hepburn (US)

The International Herb Symposium and Film Festival is committed to creating a welcoming, engaging, and inclusive gathering that represents and honors the diverse and varied traditions present in herbalism.

“I hope to inspire all cultures to document the world of plants and the Earth’s healing herbs,” said Marjolaine Forest, festival creative director. “It is profoundly important to plant, grow and teach the children.”

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About United Plant Savers: United Plant Savers is a 501c(3) nonprofit whose mission is to protect native medicinal plants, fungi, and their habitats while ensuring renewable populations for use by generations to come. The work of United Plant Savers involves research, education, and conservation of native medicinal plants and their habitats. To learn more about United Plant Savers, visit: https://unitedplantsavers.org/

 About International Herb Symposium: The International Herb Symposium began more than 25 years ago to bring together herbalists from across the globe. Ever since, it has become a greatly anticipated bi-annual event where plant lovers can exchange information about the healing power of botanicals. Founded by renowned herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, it was at the 1994 Symposium where the seeds were sprouted for the idea that would later become United Plant Savers. United Plant Savers now runs the International Herb Symposium and its associated Film & Photography Festival. All proceeds from both events directly support the nonprofit. To learn more about the Symposium, visit: https://unitedplantsavers.org/international-herb-symposium/