Full Plate


Environmental Festival Returns With Food Focus

The 18th annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital returns March 16 to 28 with 155 films that examine everything eco-related — from protecting orangutans in Indonesia, to the health effects of cell phones, to the impact of globalization on Cairo’s sustainable garbage collecting community, to the role of topsoil in providing nourishing food.

What we eat in fact will play a major role in this year’s festival. “The 2010 festival explores the vital connections between food and the environment,” said Helen Strong, festival public affairs director. “What we eat is essential to our health and wellbeing, and how food is produced and transported to our table affects the condition of our planet.”

“The 2010 Environmental Film Festival is the biggest and most ambitious yet, screening 155 films all over Washington, D.C. It’s our 18th year, the festival has come of age, ” added Peter O’Brien, the festival’s executive director.

As in past years, the numbers are impressive: More than 25,000 viewers at 56 venues — including many embassies — are expected to attend the festival’s films, of which 66 are D.C., U.S. and world premieres. The program includes 64 international selections from 31 countries. In addition, 56 filmmakers and 94 special guests are scheduled to speak.

Some highlights include the following guests accompanying featured films:

The opening night film is “GasLand,” which recently won an award at Sundance, making its D.C. premiere with filmmaker Josh Fox in person.

Venezuelan filmmaker Margot Benacerraf presents the D.C. premiere of the recently restored 35mm print of “Araya,” a 1959 Cannes-winning film about the “salineros” who toiled in a pre-industrialized salt mine in Venezuela.

At the D.C. premiere of “The Music Tree,” Brazilian filmmaker Otavio Juliano receives the festival’s first annual Polly Krakora Award for artistry in film. The documentary looks at the prospects of the endangered brazilwood tree, a key element in making fine violin bows for centuries.

In conjunction with the biographical documentary “Peter Matthiessen: No Boundaries,” the famous explorer, naturalist and writer — a two-time National Book Award recipient — will discuss how climate change has affected culture in the Arctic.

Pete Docter, an Academy Award-nominated director, will discuss his animated “Up,” a commercial and critical smash from Pixar and Disney.

And the festival’s food focus can be found in films ranging from “Nora!” — profiling Washington restaurateur Nora Pouillon, founder of the nation’s first certified organic restaurant — to “Terra Madre,” highlighting the contributions of Italy’s slow food movement, to “What’s On Your Plate?” investigating the sources of our food. It all makes for a full plate of thought-provoking cinema.

For a full schedule and other information about the 2010 Environmental Film Festival, please call (202) 342-2564 or visit www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org.

About the Author

Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.