10 Powerful Environmental Films to Watch This Week

Each year, the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF) showcases environmentally-themed films with the mission to celebrate the earth and inspire understanding and stewardship of the environment through the power of film.

Please enjoy this list of 10 powerful environmental films from the DCEFF to watch while at home practicing social distancing.

Fight for Areng Valley

Fight for Areng Valley

“As monks, we were taught to protect the forests, not destroy it. Since they have come to destroy the Areng river and forests, there will be no forest left for the spirits to live.”

These are the opening lines of Fight for Areng Valley, a short film about how a group of young monks and the Chong people of a remote valley Cambodia came together to fight for the forests and livelihood of the Areng river and forests.

Directed by: Kalyanne Mam, 2015

Tupi: A Story of indigenous Courage and Resolve

Tupi: A Story of indigenous Courage and Resolve

Tupi is an indigenous activist whose goal is to empower other Tupinamba women by presenting a clear message: with strength, Tupinamba Women can look after their territory, be a voice, and learn to protect and care for the earth. This inspiring film teaches women to stand up against violence and urges the audience to become aware about the problems of being a woman and being indigenous.

Directed by: Pablo Albarenga, 2020

Project Wild Thing

Project Wild Thing

Project Wild Thing is a campaign led by filmmaker David Bond to expose the painful truth about modern family life and kids spending too much time indoors. His goal is simple: reconnect kids with nature in our digital age.

Directed by: David Bond, 2014

Pumped Dry: the Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater

Pumped Dry: the Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater

This film examines the effects of rapidly depleting groundwater reserves around the world by focusing on the United States, Peru, India, and Morocco. Due to much of the planet reliying on groundwater, people are beginning to rapidly deplete aquifiers and dry out wells. By using startling statistics, interviews, and details of challenges and potential solutions, this film aims to educate and advice people to confront the problem and prevent aquifiers from declining further.

Photo by Pulitzer Center

Directed by: Steve Elfers, 2015

Pride

Pride

The cultural relationship between residents of Gujarat, India and the last remaining population of Asiatic Lions in the world is explored in this film. With fewer than 50 lions in the wild at the turn of the 21st century, rural communities worked with the government to create a haven for this top predator and are successfully securing its place in the ecosystem.

Directed by: Roshan Patel, 2013

What Lies Upstream

What Lies Upstream

In this unsettling film, filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the safety of drinking water. He seeks to find the truth about what is really happening with drinking water in America and discovers a shocking truth about the failure of regulation from both state and federal agencies.

Directed by: Cullen Hoback, 2017

Boy-zshan Bi-den (Buffalo Return)

Boy-zshan Bi-den (Buffalo Return)

Bison were nearly exterminated across North America. Thanks to the Shoshone tribe, the National Wildlife Federation and the coordinated efforts of a host of other individuals and organizations, bison have finally been brought back the Wind River Indian Reservation and a landscape that they once defined. This short film show their return after a 130 year absence and the significance it has for the Shoshone and the rest of America.

Directed by: Colin Ruggiero, 2017

Nature is Speaking

Nature is Speaking

Featuring Julia Roberts in a celebrity-voiced campaign, Nature is Speaking is a series of short films that uses impeccable cinemotography and influence to draw attention to the need to protect and conserve nature. These films by Conservation International are aimed to raise awareness and move to action. In this unique experience, mother nature speaks to people in a moving and urging way, and expresses the importance of loving, advocating, and saving it because in the end – “people need nature. Nature doesn’t need people.”

Directed by: Conservation International, 2015

Potomac: The River Runs Through Us

Potomac: The River Runs Through Us

The message of this film is simple: people are connected to rivers. This film encourages the public to come together and learn about why the protection of the Potomac River is essential in the wellbeing of people and of future generations. The future security and quality of the water that is used by everyday Americans is dependant on the peoples ability to reduce the threats that face the Potomac: urban development, population growth, runoff from farms, and much more.

Directed by: Peggy Fleming, 2013

Dark Waters

Dark Waters

In this film, Mark Ruffalo plays a corporate environmental defense attourney who defends ‘Big Chem’ companies and finds himself conflicted after finding out the truth about the toxic, dangerous and deadly effects these chemicals – produced by powerful corporations – are having to the local communities. Inspired by a true story, this film demands the attention of everyday Americans and aims to educate and motivate people to advocate against the production of toxic chemicals produced by large companies.

Directed by: Todd Haynes, 2019