March 23, 2022

Environmental Film Festival Has Mostly Virtual Events

JOURNEY DOWN THE PASSAIC: A scene from the documentary “American River,” directed by Scott Morris. The film is featured in the 16th annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival, presented by the Princeton Public Library April 1 to April 10.

The Princeton Environmental Film Festival, a signature Princeton Public Library event, returns this year with some screenings presented in person, and all available in a virtual format. Opening April 1 and running through April 10, the 16th annual festival features 16 films (10 feature-length documentary films, five shorts, and one short narrative film).

The festival is under the direction of Susan Conlon and Kim Dorman, who curate and present films with local, regional and international relevance. All screenings are free. This year the festival will be primarily virtual with some in-person events. The lineup and schedule of films, and viewing instructions using the Eventive platform, along with a screening schedule for films being shown at the library, can be found at

Films include American River, about a four-day kayak journey down one of the nation’s most beautiful and tragic waterways: New Jersey’s Passaic River. The central character is Mary Bruno, who spent her childhood along one of the Passaic’s most polluted stretches and returns decades later to rediscover the river of her youth and tell its story. The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Scott Morris and Bruno.

Sasyk Estuary, by the Black Sea, is ground zero for a battle between eco-activists versus poachers, bureaucrats, and corrupt officials. Return Sasyk to the Sea, directed by Princeton filmmaker Andrea Odezynska, explores the bizarre Soviet irrigation experiments in Southern Ukraine, which created a slow eco-disaster that continues today. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Odenzynska.

WILD in the Garden State, directed by Sarah Galloway, is a story of connecting to the natural world in suburban New Jersey. Dave and Sarah are city transplants, with no gardening experience, who want a beautiful, ecological garden in their own backyard. Their experience will likely resonate with both seasoned and new gardeners and anyone who wants to spend less time maintaining a pristine — and unhealthy — lawn and more time enjoying the natural world. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Galloway and film subject Dave Comins.

New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay estuary, a convergence of fresh water from rivers and creeks with salt water from the Atlantic, and it is one of the most productive ecosystems in the country. The documentary Drift, directed by Erin Fleming, speaks to and illustrates the past 50 years of human activity on the bay and the concerns engulfing the estuary and its natural wonders, from the impact of invasive species such as bay nettles, to the glorious return of the once-decimated coastal raptors like osprey. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Fleming and a panel discussion.

Storm Lake explores whether American democracy survives without the backbone of independent local journalism. Go inside The Storm Lake Times, a family-run newspaper serving an Iowa town that has seen its share of changes in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to the area. Pulitzer-winning editor Art Cullen and his team dedicate themselves to keeping the paper alive as local journalism across the country struggles to survive. This in-person screening will be followed by a panel discussion focused on local journalism.

The Rescue chronicles the 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, bravery of the rescuers, and dedication of a community that made great sacrifices to save the young boys.

And in My Garden of a Thousand Bees, directed by David Allen, a veteran wildlife cameraman, seeking refuge from the pandemic in a small city garden, films wild bees that live there. From giant bumblebees to scissor bees the size of a mosquito, he has seen over 60 species of bee and develops one close relationship with an individual bee he follows through its entire life.