Things to Do

5 Films to See at the DC Environmental Film Festival (That Aren’t Sold Out)

The festival, which starts this Thursday, features more than 60 screenings.

A still from Jessica Bishopp's short film, "Skyward." Photograph courtesy of the DC Environmental Film Festival.

The 32nd annual DC Environmental Film Festival returns this Thursday, with more than 60 films, all featuring climate and nature stories, set to be screened in venues such as Smithsonian museums, foreign embassies, the National Academy of Sciences, and elsewhere. While a handful of the films—such as First We Bombed New Mexico and Antarctica Calling—have already sold out, there are a host of other compelling docs with tickets still left. From an epic ice-filled quest with climber Alex Honnold to a serious climate situation unfolding in Norfolk, here are five films we recommend checking out:


Arctic Ascent

Subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo, the intrepid climber Alex Honnold, known for his staggeringly tall, rope-free ascents, heads to a remote corner of Greenland where he’s set on climbing a 4,000-foot sea cliff that’s nearly 1,000 feet higher than the ascent he accomplished in Free Solo. It’s considered one of the tallest unclimbed rock faces in the world, but the expedition isn’t just for the thrill of an epic adventure. Honnold, an environmental activist, is also there to witness climate change’s effect on Greenland, which loses an average of around 250 billion metric tons of ice per year. Accompanying the adventurer is Dr. Heïdi Sevestre, a glaciologist working with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.

Following the screening, The Washington Post will host a discussion with Sevestre as well as Honnold, who will participate live via satellite.

Where: The Washington Post, 1301 K St., NW

When: Monday, March 25 at 7 PM

Cost: $15


Underwater Projects

For an impactful story that hits close to home, head to the Naval Heritage Center (701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW) for a screening of Underwater Projects. The documentary follows the pressing climate situation unfolding several hours south of DC in Norfolk, Virginia, which is facing the highest rates of sea level rise on the East Coast. Experiencing the brunt of Norfolk’s rising waters are the Black residents of St. Paul’s, a frequently flooded public housing project that the local government plans to tear down and redevelop as part of a “climate resilience” plan. Prior to the screening will be a special reception awarding Rev Yearwood, CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, which produced the documentary, with the film fest’s Environmental Champion Award.

Where: The Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

When: Sunday, March 24 at 6 PM

Cost: $15


We Start With the Things We Find

Chances are you’re either wearing, eating, or using something that was once packed into an 8-foot-by-40-foot corrugated steel box and shipped oversees. According to the United Nations, more than 80 percent of the world’s traded goods are carried by sea inside what the directors of this film call “an accidental icon of our modern age“: the shipping container. With millions of obsolete shipping containers around the world, the film follows the design studio, LOT-EK, as it searches for and creates new uses for the ubiquitous steel boxes, refashioning them into libraries, schools, galleries, and more.

Where: Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

When: Wednesday, March 27 at 7 PM

Cost: $15


Giants Rising

Feel small at this Department of the Interior screening, which dives into the world of California’s coast redwoods, the planet’s tallest trees and among its oldest living things. Told through the perspectives of biologists, artists, and Native peoples, the film explores the science behind these mysterious trees, the ways they’ve culturally influenced humans, and ongoing efforts to preserve the giants.

Where: US Department of the Interior Museum, 1849 C St., NW

When: Wednesday, March 27 at 7 PM

Cost: Free, but donations welcome


SHORTS: Take Flight – Birds, Bats, & Bees

Bird lovers will enjoy this collection of documentary shorts featuring several of our winged neighbors. The event features five 20-minute or shorter films, including Skyward, a coming-of-age story about two young birders in the UK; Puffling, which follows two Icelandic teenagers who work to save young puffins that have confused harbor lights for the moon; Batsies, which follows two Texas wildlife researchers as they race to save the state’s crucial bat population; Café Y Aves, a look at how farmers and Smithsonian scientists are working together to produce bird-friendly coffee; and Sym•bee•o•sis, a look at how microbes, which are threatened by agricultural chemicals, play an unexpected role in the relationship between bees and plants.

Where: Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

When: Saturday, March 30 at 1 PM

Cost: Free, but donations welcome

Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor