The 2012 EcoFocus Film Festival begins Friday, March 23, with an opening night party and a screening of the award-winning film Buck, a documentary about Buck Brannaman, a cowboy who teaches people to communicate with horses with compassion.

In addition to this year’s 18 feature-length films, 22 short films and 10 children’s films, the festival will also host special events, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers. Audience members will also be able to vote for their favorite films, and the winner will be announced at the closing night awards party.

Sara Beresford, festival director and lead programmer for EcoFocus, says that the festival aims to inform and inspire audiences about environmental issues through film.

“The films selected for EcoFocus reveal the planet’s beauty and the environmental challenges facing this and future generations, and highlight inspirational stories about people working to protect the environment and its inhabitants,” she says.

While EcoFocus will feature several headline-making films like “Revenge of the Electric Car,” a movie that looks at the vehicles’ comeback, and Academy Award nominee “If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which delves into the consequences of eco-terrorism, many equally thought-provoking, but lesser-known documentaries will also be screened.

Here’s a look at some of the films and special events at this year’s festival.

'Urban Roots' Screening and expert Q&A, March 24

Take a look at how groups of dedicated citizens and environmentalists have transformed Detroit into a mecca of urban farming in "Urban Roots." Afterward, a professor of community agriculture and a representative from the Athens Land Trust will participate in a question-and-answer session.

An evening of bike films, March 24

Watch three inspiring, bike-focused films, followed by a post-film discussion with filmmakers and bicycling advocates. Afterward, Little Kings will host an afterparty across the street with musical guest Hope for Agoldensummer. Your ticket stub will get you in free.

Free screenings of ‘The Clean Bin Project,’ March 25 & 30

This film asks the question, "Is it possible to live waste free for a year?" Jennifer Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin strive to do just that as they swear off consumerism and compete with each other to see who can produce the least amount of garbage in one year in "The Clean Bin Project."

Tickets to screen individual films are $5, and tickets for the opening and closing parties are $15. In addition to "The Clean Bin Project," attendees will also be able to view "Your Environmental Road Trip", "Blood in the Mobile", "Sushi: The Global Catch", and "Paradise Saved" for free.

For more information on the festival, including film trailers, ticket prices and the festival schedule, visit the EcoFocus Film Festival website.

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Georgia environmental film festival unveils 2012 lineup
The EcoFocus Film Festival in Athens, Ga., runs March 23-31 and will show 18 feature-length films and 22 short films.