The 15th annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival, organized by Princeton Public Library, runs in a virtual format through Sunday, April 18.
Films available for free on-demand viewing include nine short and nine feature-length documentaries as well as discussion sessions with filmmakers and other speakers.
“We have initiated a new platform to provide easy access to the films that allows streaming on demand,” said Susan Conlon, who directs the festival alongside Kim Dorman. “It allows us to share these dynamic, beautifully rendered films that take us far and wide around the world. We think this will especially impact and inspire people in a year that has kept us so close to home.”
“Stray,” directed by Hong Kong-born filmmaker Elizabeth Lo, explores what it means to live as a being without status or security. It follows three stray dogs as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society.
“Playing with Sharks,” directed by Sally Atkin, profiles diver Valerie Taylor, a fearless marine maverick with a passion for sharks. Taylor swam against the perception that sharks are ruthless predators, and for more than 70 years put herself on the front line. The film reveals Taylor’s role in the making of “Jaws” and follows her to the age of 83 as she continues her life’s work of protecting sharks.
In a series of lyrical portraits, “The Long Coast,” directed by Ian Cheney, illuminates the stories of Maine’s seafolk, those whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably connected to the ocean. This atmospheric film shows the beauty, intimacy and uncertainty that coastal dwellers face in rooting their lives in the ocean, particularly as human actions — from overfishing, to aquaculture, to warming seas — confront Maine and its people with profound change.
“Inhabitants,” directed by Costa Boutsikaris, follows five Native American tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests and prairies as they restore their traditional land management practices. As the climate crisis escalates, these time-tested practices of North America’s original inhabitants are becoming increasingly essential to a rapidly changing world.
The recently completed short film “Observatory,” directed by Jared Flesher, captures Hungarian-born astrophysicist Gaspar Bakos, who helped discover more than 140 planets outside our solar system. When the global pandemic locked down his community, Bakos, who now lives with his family next to a small patch of forest and a small lake in Princeton, bought a $40 motion-sensor camera to occupy himself and his three energetic boys. With creativity and persistence, they moved the camera around the forest and soon discovered a delightful secret world. World premiere screening.
Appreciation for Chinese ink painting is growing, but much of the art form remains unexplored. In “Unsung Heroes of Ink,” directed by Olivia Wang, artists Liu Dan and Shao Fan explain how paper shapes their work. Their collaborators are craftspeople in the remote Jing County, Anhui Province, who observe ancient methods to hand-produce xuan paper. These craftspeople, who have spent a lifetime honing their skills, are the “unsung heroes of ink.”
Abandoned for 40 years, a collection of 19th-century mansions slowly recedes into a wild-growing forest. But in New York City, nothing stays hidden forever, as revealed in “Urban Growth,” a short film directed by Nate Dorr and Nathan Kensinger.
“Aguilucho: Dance of the Harpy Eagle,” directed by Daniel Byers, is a short film about indigenous-led conservation efforts surrounding the Harpy Eagle in the remote Darién Gap Rainforest in Panama, the only place on the route from Alaska to Argentina that the Pan American Highway has yet to be able to penetrate. The film explores the relationship between the Emberá tribe and the birds, and the threats the species and ecosystem face from deforestation and the encroachment from loggers.
“Pushed Up the Mountain,” directed by Julia Haslett, is a poetic and emotionally intimate film about plants and the people who care for them. Through the tale of the migrating rhododendron, now endangered in its native China, the film reveals how high the stakes are for all living organisms in this time of unprecedented destruction of the natural world.
The full lineup of films is online at www.princetonlibrary.org/peff.