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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital

Fresh Perspectives on Food

by Helen Strong
The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, the largest and one of the oldest film festivals, in Washington, D.C., will commemorate its 25th anniversary this spring. Marking a quarter century of celebrating and defending earth through the power of film, the 2017 festival, March 14 to 26, will present more than 150 films across the city, exploring what has happened over the past 25 years and what lies ahead.

Fresh perspectives on the food we eat and how it’s grown will be among the many diverse topics explored in festival films. Food Evolution, presented with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Academy of Sciences, examines the schism between scientists and consumers surrounding GMOs. Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the film looks at the real-world application of food science in the past and present and argues for sound science and open-mindedness in this increasingly polarized debate. The free screening, followed by a discussion, will take place on March 17, at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Asking the tough questions behind every hamburger, glass of milk and baby-back rib, the film, At the Fork, takes a timely and refreshingly unbiased look at how farm animals are raised for our consumption. Filmmaker and omnivore John Papola and his vegetarian wife, Lisa, visit large-scale conventional farms, where they discover no heartless industrialists, but America’s farmers—real people who are grappling with the moral dimensions of farming animals for food.

Following the film’s free screening, at American University on March 24, there will be a panel discussion with Whole Foods Market’s Global Meat Coordinator, Theo Weening and Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Whole Foods Market will be providing food and refreshments at the screening.

From the Montana Rockies to the Kansas wheat fields and the Gulf of Mexico, families who work the land and sea are profiled in the new Discovery film, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, narrated by Tom Brokow. Based on a book by Miriam Horn, the film explores how these people are crossing political divides to protect the natural resources vital to their livelihoods. The film, followed by a discussion, will be shown March 25, at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

New England’s dairy farmers, the backbone of the region’s agriculture, are fighting for survival in an age of artisan cheeses and baby greens. The film, Forgotten Farms, suggests that we have much to learn from these dairy farmers as we strive to revive local production to confront climate change. The film’s director, Dave Simonds, will be present for discussion following the free screening on March 17, at E Street Cinema.

Moving from the farm to the table, Ants on a Shrimp spotlights acclaimed celebrity chef Rene Redzepi, whose locavore eatery Noma, lauded as the world’s best restaurant, relocates from Copenhagen to Tokyo. The chef (one of Time magazine’s most influential people) and his international team, create a 14-course menu, using only Japanese ingredients. The film will be shown free on March 18, at E Street Cinema.

An overview of food films will be provided by Chris Palmer, founder and director of American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking, who will discuss “The Most Important Food Films of All Time” in a special lecture, illustrated by clips from ground-breaking films that explore the origins and impact of the food we eat. This free evening with Palmer will take place on March 21, at American University.

For the complete schedule with program updates, registration and ticket information, visit the Environmental Film Festival website,

Helen Strong helps to spread the word about the wonderful films at the Environmental Film Festival. For more information, email at [email protected]

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