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TO MARCH 26
The environment doesn’t stay untouched for long once humans move in. Often it gets chopped or burned—or both, as in the case of the handiwork of the folks depicted in The Charcoal People, hardscrabble Brazilian migrants who pull down trees with bulldozers and then roast them in primitive kilns to create charcoal, an essential ingredient in pig iron. But the many tales told by this year’s Environmental Film Festival are not all so dire. The program also features movies like Edward James: Builder of Dreams, about a wealthy English eccentric who integrated his personal surrealist playground into a Mexican jungle. And sometimes the environment is inside, as in Peter (Architecture of Doom) Cohen’s Homo Sapiens 1900, a ponderous but fascinating film about eugenics that reveals that not only Nazis were interested in “racial hygiene”: While the Soviets were dubious, Americans and Swedes embraced the concept. This year’s fest presents these documentaries and about 100 more films, including 48 Washington premieres. Included are classics like People of the Wind, about Iran’s Bakhtiari migrants, and Robert Flaherty’s The Land, a Depression-era look at rural America; children’s films like Banjo Frogs and When Water Is Sick, The World Is Sick; and, of course, accounts of charismatic megafauna such as Dolphins: The Wild Side and The Song of the Monk Seal. The screenings (Belly Boat Hustle is pictured), most of them free, take place at more than 50 local venues; call (202) 342-2564 or visit www.capaccess.org/eff for details. (Mark Jenkins)