The world of filmmaking is once again shining a spotlight on Washington, D.C., with the 24th Environmental Film Festival welcoming more than 140 films from a diverse group of directors, artists and activists. The festival, the nation's largest and longest-running dedicated to the genre, will this year feature cinematic work from 33 countries and more than 70 Washington, D.C., U.S. and world premieres.
Below are just a few of the films to view this year during the 11-day event. You can browse the full schedule at the official site or catch one of the films at a festival closer to home:
1. 'The Birth of Saké'
If you're someone who enjoyed the complex beauty of the Japanese documentary "Yoshi Dreams of Sushi," something tells me "The Birth of Saké" will leave a similar impression. Directed by Eric Shirai, the film explores the lives and relationships of the saké brewers at Yoshida Shuzo in Japan. The craft requires such dedication and teamwork that deep camaraderie is often forged between the workers. The film recently won the Polly Krakora Award for Artistry, with one critic describing it not as food porn, but "food poetry."
Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ian Cheney's "Bluespace" explores the science and theories of terraforming Mars, while also using the topic to highlight the poor stewardship of our own planet. "It seems like at some point humans will colonize Mars, and that raises the question of what kind of planet we will make it," Cheney recently told the Boston Globe.
3. 'The Babushkas of Chernobyl'
In "The Babushkas of Chernobyl," director Holly Morris explores the radioactive "dead zone" surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4 and the brave women to dare to continue living there. From farming to loneliness to the strangers and government officials they occasionally come in contact with, the film shares a compelling story of "spirit, defiance and beauty from the most contaminated place on Earth."
4. 'The Creeping Garden'
When was the last time you stopped to consider the miraculous wonder that is slime mold? Filmmakers Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp make the case that we should be doing this more often in "The Creeping Garden." Neither animal, nor vegetable, nor fungi, slime mold is an intriguing single-celled organism that is redefining the definition of intelligence. Science is using research on slime molds to advance everything from unconventional computing to robot controllers.
5. 'Blood Lions'
Coming on the heels of international outrage over the hunting death of Cecil the lion last year, "Blood Lions" exposes the multi-million dollar breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa. From the trade shows where the hunts are advertised to the farms where the animals are brutally raised for violent slaughter, this film reveals the lucrative (and shockingly legal) details behind one of the world's most horrific so-called sports.
6. 'National Parks Adventure'
Presented in stunning IMAX and narrated by Robert Redford, "National Parks Adventure" honors the U.S. National Park Service Centennial with a remarkable cinematic tour of America's natural wonders. Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Yosemite, and Arches are all captured in never-before-seen-detail, with some of today's most accomplished explorers leading the way on off-trail adventures. You'll learn about the history, gawk at the scenery, and likely feel inspired to hit the nearest park for a visit.
7. 'How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Cannot Change)'
"How to Let Go of the World," the latest documentary from "Gasland" director Josh Fox, explores the ever-increasing reality that it may be simply too late to prevent climate change. Instead of giving up, however, Fox explores the parts of our humanity that climate change can't touch, including the ingenuity, innovation and the resiliency of the human spirit. The film, which features Fox exploring the impacts of climate change in 12 countries, will close out the 2016 Environmental Film Festival.