18th annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival kicks off April 5

Photo by Saskia Madlener from “The Wonder and the Worry” courtesy of the Princeton Public Library.

The 18th edition of the Princeton Environmental Film Festival, an annual event hosted by the Princeton Public Library, is set to kick off on April 5, and runs through April 14.

This year’s lineup includes eight feature-length documentaries and 14 short films that raise awareness about pressing environmental challenges.

Films will be screened in person at the library and streamed virtually, with some films available in both formats. Streamed selections will be available to view from April 8-14. There will also be an off-site screening at the Princeton Garden Theatre on April 7.

The festival is directed by Susan Conlon and Kim Dorman, who curate films for the festival that have local, regional, and international relevance. The full lineup, including screening schedules, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and instructions for using the Eventive platform to stream films, can be found online on the library’s film festival page.

Through the generosity of festival sponsors Church & Dwight Co. Inc., The Whole Earth Center of Princeton, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University, all screenings are free.

Highlights of the festival

Friday, April 5, 4 p.m., Community Room
In-person only
“Inundation District”

In a time of rising seas and intensifying storms, one of the world’s wealthiest, most-educated cities made a fateful decision to spend billions of dollars erecting a new district along its coast — on landfill, at sea level. Unlike other places imperiled by climate change, this neighborhood of glass towers housing some of the world’s largest companies was built well after scientists began warning of the threats, including many at its renowned universities. The city, which already has more high-tide flooding than nearly any other in the United States, called its new quarter the Innovation District. But with seas rising inexorably, and at an accelerating rate, others are calling the neighborhood by a different name: Inundation District. 1 hour, 19 minutes.

Saturday, April 6, 10:30 a.m., Community Room
Available to stream April 8-14
“A Symphony of Tiny Lights”

In 1971, after witnessing the oil spill in San Francisco Bay, John Francis was moved to give up motorized transport and travel across the U.S. on foot and in silence. During the next 17 silent years, as he listened and studied the world around him, his idea of environmentalism changed. 31 minutes.

Saturday, April 6, 1 p.m., Community Room
Available to stream April 8-14
“The Asbestos City”

This documentary captures the human story of small-town America in Manville, New Jersey, throughout and beyond the events of Hurricane Ida in 2021. Manville is a borough in the heart of the state that is in a constant struggle for economic resilience, yet it remains strong in its community values, American pride, and cultural history. 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Saturday, April 6, 4 p.m., Community Room
In-person screening only
“399: Queen of the Tetons”

Known by her research number, 399 has captivated photographers since 2007, becoming the most famous — and photographed — grizzly in the world. This film follows 399 as she struggles to raise her cubs in the face of human encroachment, a rapidly changing climate, and threat of losing her protection under the Endangered Species Act. 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 7, 1 p.m., Community Room
Available to stream April 8-14
“The Wonder and the Worry”

This lyrical exploration of family, photography, and the power of visual storytelling to create change follows the careers of former National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns and his daughter Louise, a young freelance photographer. 1 hour, 38 minutes.

April 8-14, by streaming only
“The Untold Story of Fatma Kayac”

Considered responsible for the tragic death of her nephew, Fatma Kayaci withdrew to live in a stone house high on the mountain pasture, never seeing her relatives or neighbors again. Over 38 years, she has created a lush forest, planting trees she named for her nephew, and opposing any effort to clear them. In this sensitive, poetic short film, Fatma tells her painful story. 40 minutes.

Sunday, April 7, 4 p.m., Princeton Garden Theatre
Available to stream April 8-14
“The Arc of Oblivion” 

In a universe that erases its tracks, why are we so hellbent on leaving a trace?

“The Arc of Oblivion” is an unexpectedly playful search for an answer to a deeply existential question. Set against the backdrop of the filmmaker’s quixotic quest to build an ark in a field in Maine, the film heads far afield — to salt mines in the Alps, fjords in the Arctic, and ancient libraries in the Sahara — to illuminate the strange world of archives, record-keeping, and memory. 1 hour, 38 minutes.