The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital, the largest environmental festival in the world and the longest running in the U.S., is in its 26th year and will run from March 15 through March 25. In partnership with museums, embassies, universities and theaters, the festival will present more than 100 films - documentaries, narratives, animations, shorts and experimental works - selected to advance public understanding and stewardship of the planet. This year's theme, "From the Frontlines," will feature films and speakers that reflect the actions and passions of those working in wildlife conservation and habitat protection and on clean drinking water and clean air initiatives. Their undertakings are helping to protect and preserve the environment for us and for future generations.

These engaging screenings are accompanied by open discussions with filmmakers and special guests, and the festival includes many more family-fun activities. All the screenings are free or presented at a low cost, and the compilation of ecological films allows for an educational and visual outing for both parents and children. Washington Parent is a proud media sponsor this festival that attracts more than 33,000 people annually. Here are a few of the child-friendly films that will be showing this year. For a full list of films, visit dceff.org.

Backyard Wilderness

Katie, a young girl, and her modern family live next to the woods, but are blind to the real-life spectacle around them as they are absorbed by an array of electronic devices and their busy lives. Katie gradually discovers the intricate secrets that nature has hidden so close to her front door and finds joy in her interactions with the natural world. The film will surprise and entertain you with the unexpected wonders of nature all around us. Spanning a year around a suburban home, the film displays an array of stunning wildlife images and behavior, all captured by cameras mounted inside dens and nests and moving along the forest floor and pond bottom to reveal its inhabitants in rare and breathtaking intimacy. The film reminds us that Wi-Fi is not the only connection that matters, and that sometimes in ordinary places you can uncover extraordinary things that could transform you forever - if you just step outside.

Chasing Coral

Coral reefs are the nursery for much of the life in the ocean, a remarkable ecosystem that sustains us. Yet with carbon emissions warming the seas, a phenomenon called "coral bleaching" - a sign of mass coral death - has been accelerating around the world, and the public has no idea of the scale or implication of the catastrophe silently raging underwater. Tapping into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers and renowned marine biologists, the film captures these underwater explorers as they invent the first time-lapse camera to record bleaching events as they happen.

Unfortunately, the effort is anything but simple, and the team doggedly battles technical malfunctions and the force of nature in pursuit of documenting the indisputable and tragic transformation below the waves. With its breathtaking photography and nail-biting suspense, "Chasing Coral" is a dramatic revelation that won't leave you sitting idle for long.

JANE

Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, a trailblazer who defied the odds to become one of the world's most admired conservationists. Jane's chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Set to a rich orchestral score from legendary composer Philip Glass, the film offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of this world-renowned environmentalist.


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Jennifer Poole is Assistant Editor at Washington Parent.