Jane Goodall, Jose Andrés, Ron Howard headline DC Environmental Film Festival

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Environmental Film Fest (Part 1)

Filmmaking and environmental activism are colliding once again in the nation’s capital.

The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital returns virtually March 17 to 27.

“This is our 30th anniversary,” Director of Programming Brad Forder told WTOP. “The festival started in the early ’90s. [Founder] Flo Stone created this collaborative model that still exists today, working with partners in the D.C. area — museums, embassies, universities — to showcase a diverse selection of film on environmental topics.”

This year’s slate kicks off with Sara Dosa’s documentary “Fire of Love.”

“This film made a huge splash coming out of Sundance … then was acquired by National Geographic Docs,” Forder said. “It uses an experimental approach in narration … as well archival footage by the film’s subjects, Katia and Maurice Krafft, a married couple who were French volcano scientists from the late ’60s all the way through the ’80s.”

The festival will also screen “Jane” as it honors Dr. Jane Goodall with a special prize.

“We will have a conversation with Dr. Jane Goodall and Gregory McGruder from National Geographic,” Forder said. “We’re just so thrilled to honor Dr. Goodall, who has been such a world-renowned activist. We’ve had so many films come to the festival about her. One in particular that we’ll bring back … is the film ‘Jane,’ Brett Morgan’s amazing archival film.”

The lineup also includes Elizabeth Unger’s urgent animal rights documentary “Tigre Gente.”

“It profiles a Bolivian park ranger and a young journalist from Hong Kong, both of which will be participating in a Q&A, basically as they risk their lives investigating this new, deadly jaguar trade that is sweeping through South America,” Forder said.

You can also check out Tracey Deer’s unique narrative film “Beans.”

“Our films are usually documentaries, but we’re always open to showcasing narrative films,” Forder said. “We’ll co-present this with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. It’s based on true events, the Oka Crisis, which involved Mohawk communities in Quebec in the 1990s. … We will have a conversation with the director.”

You also don’t want to miss Jesse Roesler’s short film “Breaking Trail.”

“‘It follows Emily Ford as she sets out to become the first woman and first person of color to through-hike the 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail in winter,” Forder said. “Temperatures are hitting 50 [degrees] below, she’s doing it with her dog Diggins. It’s an incredible journey, but also it’s just an incredible message about the outdoors being for everyone.”

Closing weekend brings Ron Howard’s “We Feed People” about chef José Andrés.

“This film profiles celebrity chef [and] humanitarian Jose Andrés,” Forder said. “Many of us have been watching him via social media in and around Ukraine, doing incredible things. This film really spotlights his nonprofit World Central Kitchen and its incredible mission and evolution over 12 years. It really has become a humanitarian aid organization.”

This year’s lineup will once again be presented virtually for a third straight year.

“Around this time two years ago was the last time I was in the theater,” Forder said. “March 2020 we were four days away from opening night and canceled. Since then, we’ve pivoted to virtual. … In the last two years, we’ve learned so much about how to support filmmakers virtually, about showcasing films for our audience. … The foundation is still the same.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Environmental Film Fest (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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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