From the hidden costs of our digital world to the frozen edges of civilization, here are a few films to catch this year.
A scene from the documentary '24 Snow.' The film, which chronicles a horse-breeders' life in the Arctic, is one of over 150 screening at the 2017 Environmental Film Festival. (Photo: 24 Snow)
Now celebrating its 25th year, the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., is once again poised to raise awareness and bring together scientists, filmmakers and cinephiles. This year's event, taking place from March 14-26, will feature over 150 films from a diverse group of directors, artists and activists.
Below are just a handful of the ones we enthusiastically recommend you check out at the festival or bookmark for later viewing. A full schedule of what to expect over the course of the 11-day event is available here.
Director Mikhail Barynin's gorgeous documentary about a horse breeder living in one of the most remote and coldest places on Earth will literally make you shiver at first glance. The film, shot during the Arctic winter, follows a man named Sergei as he herds horses through temperatures that sometimes reach minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With his son intent on studying rather than pursuing the family profession, Sergei faces an uncertain future in one of the world's most inhospitable regions.
'At the Fork'
Director John Papola turns the camera on himself for this enlightening documentary about the journey to better understand where our food comes from. Papola, a meat-lover, gains access to large-scale conventional farms and sheds light on the production process of everything from hamburgers to milk. "Farm animals are thinking, feeling, social creatures that should demand our moral concern," he told the Humane Society. "Being physically disconnected from them has stripped our culture of that daily consciousness. So our challenge is to consciously decide to think about them in the food choices we make."
'The Beekeeper and his Son'
There's an intimate quality to director Diedie Weng's new documentary, "The Beekeeper and his Son," that is at once both touching and intriguing. The film focuses on a beekeeper in rural Northern China struggling to maintain the traditions and sustainable aspects of his profession, but faced with environmental deradation, dying colonies and a son who seeks to take the business in a more intensive direction.
"I hope the film will give people a sensual feeling of the beekeeper’s home environment in China, and an intimate experience of their family life with its ups and downs, sweetness and bitterness," shared Weng.
"The Diver" from director Esteban Arrangoiz is the kind of film that will make you want to take a shower immediately afterwards. The documentary focuses on Julio Cesar Cu Cámara, a specialized diver who works the heavily polluted waters of Mexico City's sewage system. For over 30 years, Cámara has ventured deep into these garbage-strewn nightmares to unclog drains and retrieve everything from furniture to corpses. According to the film's synopsis, he cleans an astounding 7,000 miles of sewage over the course of 80 dives a year.
'Death by Design'
"Death by Design," the latest film from director Sue Williams, explores the human and environmental cost of our growing appetite for computers, cellphones and other electronics. Williams' investigation takes viewers all around the globe –– from the factories that create our gadgets to the waste that's generated from our obsession over upgrades. "I wanted to present this as a problem that concerns us all and that implicates us all,” she told The Observer.
It's enough to make you think twice about purchasing that next, shiny iPhone.
"Guided," from director Bridget Besaw, profiles Ray Reitze, a long-time Maine wilderness guide. While the film is loaded with gorgeous scenery, it's Reitze himself who steals the show, inspiring with his reflections on nature, humanity's divorce from it and his hopes for the future as he starts to slow down with age.
"You're standing in Eden and you disregard it," he says in the trailer. "You have to look deeper to see the color. You have to look deeper to feel it. That's why you're here. There's nothing wild. There's no wilderness. It's all home."
Much like "Death by Design" pulls the curtain back on the underbelly of the electronics industry, "Freightened" does the same for the lesser-known industry of cargo shipping. Directed by Denis Delestrac, the film dives into everything from the environmental costs of these mega-freighters to the industry's influence on international policy and legislation.
Incredibly, 90 percent of the goods we consume are manufactured in other countries and brought to our shores by ship.
"I hope this film helps to shed some light on this part of our globalized society and inspires a change in our habits as consumers to turn the tide and create a more sustainable development scheme, whether you live in the East, the West, the North or the South," said Delestrac in a statement.