Going Green Films Take Over the D.C. Area

A look inside the Environmental Film Festival

The 17th Annual Environmental Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, March 11th in Washington, D.C. as people from around the metro area and beyond flocked to view the films being presented. The festival features a diverse array of films that culminate a global effort to improve environmental conditions as well as celebrate rich and exotic nature and animal life.

With many of 141 films from over 30 countries screened for free, audiences are able to get perspectives on various issues that are affecting people from all walks of life. This year’s focus is on the ocean and its defining role in environmental issues.

Over 70 filmmakers and other guests have been invited to attend special events and screenings as well as speak on a variety of topics like the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith. Smith will be giving a speech on toxins in waterways at the Newseum.

While many films are documentaries that focus on specific problems or an endangered species, there are also animated films like “AZUR & ASMAR” directed by Michel Ocelot. The film tells the story of two boys growing up in northern Africa searching for a Djinn fairy and allows children to take an interest in the environment.

“There really is something for everyone here”, said President and Founder Flo Stone citing the diversity as a major factor in the films. “When I started the festival, I wanted to do a film festival in D.C. as a collaborative effort with the help from various environmental organizations as well as local community groups, embassies, universities and museums.”

Films like “Earth: The Biography – Oceans” by Matthew Gyves will investigate the ocean’s current health and sustainability as a resource while others like “Potato Heads and Corn Dogs: Keepers of the Crop” by Larry Engel focus on the need to protect and diversify food sources. There is an even a local-interest documentary called “Who Killed CRASSOSTREA VIRGINICA: THE FALL AND RISE OF THE CHESAPEAKE OYSTER” by Michael W. Fincham that examines the decline of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

When asked how 2009’s environmental film festival compared to other years, Stone replied that there is a much greater interest in the environment now and the festival has grown a great deal since its humble beginnings 17 years ago.

“We are expecting over 25,000 people to come this year, which sends a significant message to those who don’t believe protecting the environment is major global issue” Stone said.

One of the biggest films to debut at the festival was Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” about global warming. As the fourth highest grossing documentary in the world, the film later won Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and for Best Original Song.

“Before watching An Inconvenient Truth, I was unaware of the major environmental issues going on in the world, especially in D.C.,” said sophomore Biology Major Kofi Ellison. “But after watching the film I feel that it is imperative to get the knowledge out to others about how we can change our environment for the better. This festival is definitely a great way to raise awareness about environmental issues that are affecting people all across the world.”

The Environmental Film Festival will run until March 22nd at theatres and venues across the nation’s capitol.

More information on all the festival’s events and films can be found at dcenvironmental filmfest.org