DC Environmental Film Fest goes ‘virtual’ amid coronavirus fears

An image from “Artifishal,” streaming as part of the D.C. Environmental Film Festival’s virtual lineup. (Courtesy D.C. Environmental Film Festival)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews virtual D.C. Environmental Film Fest

It’s endangered but not extinct, as organizers have found a creative way to preserve it.

The 28th annual D.C. Environmental Film Festival will hold a “virtual” festival next week after canceling all public events slated for March 12-22 due to coronavirus concerns.

Screenings were initially set for 25 D.C. venues, including National Geographic, Naval Heritage Center, Landmark E Street Cinema, National Gallery and National Archives.

While those screenings have been canceled, the festival will instead show selected works online, including the important documentary “Artifishal” directed by Josh Murphy.

“It’s a fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that does support them,” festival director Brad Forder told WTOP. “It explores, unfortunately, wild salmon’s slide toward extinction. This is a film produced by Patagonia, which does a lot for conservation.”

Starting Monday, you can watch the following films online, some for free, some at a fee:

The festival was founded by Flo Stone in 1993 with a screening of roughly 40 to 50 films.

It has since grown to about 160 films, whittled down from hundreds of global submissions.

“Between August and December, we took in over 600 film submissions from roughly 30 plus different countries,” Forder said. “By January, we narrowed it down to about 160.”

The opening night screening was supposed to be “Okavango: River of Dreams,” directed by award-winning filmmakers and conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert.

“This is a poetic look at the great river in Botswana,” Forder said. “This is just a very inspiring film. It also gives you kind of a wonderful appreciation for all the nature and wildlife around this river in Botswana.”

The closing night film was set to be the world premiere of “Jane Goodall: The Hope.”

“It picks up where the 2017 documentary ‘Jane’ left off,” Forder said. “The new film highlights Goodall’s pivot from scientist to advocate and definitely celebrating her 40 years of conservation. It doesn’t get any more inspiring than Jane Goodall.”

While the opening and closing night screenings have been canceled, Forder hopes to reschedule them this fall. You may also find them on PBS and National Geographic.

“We want to raise up these filmmakers so they can showcase their work,” Forder said. “We hope that through the inspiration of the film and awareness maybe brought out from those discussions that the people will walk out of the theater [or virtual screening] inspired.”

Find more information on the D.C. Environmental Film Festival website.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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