Related: Environmental Issues, Goings On

DC Environmental Film Festival

Workers in yellow jumpsuits clean oil off of rocks after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Oil cleanup in Prince William Sound. Photo courtesy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

On March 24, 1989, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach ran aground off the coast of Alaska. The tanker, called the Exxon Valdez, spilled as much as 750,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound. Local wildlife — including salmon, otters, seals, and seabirds — were decimated; because of the Sound’s remoteness, cleanup was exceedingly difficult. The Exxon-Valdez spill was, at the time, one of the worst man-caused environmental disasters in history.

Three decades later, US coastal waters were marred by an even worse environmental disaster: the explosion and sinking of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. On April 20th, 2010, BP’s sea-floor well started gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In the months it took to successfully cap the well, almost 5 million barrels of oil spilled; because of the depth of the water and the quantity of oil, widespread cleanup was impossible. The Deepwater Horizon spill remains the worst marine oil spill in history.

Disasters like these pique our environmental curiosity, prompting us to ask questions. What mark are we leaving on the world? How can accidents like the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon be prevented?

Explore the answers to these — and more — questions this month at the DC Environmental Film Festival. The festival runs from March 12 through March 24 (the anniversary of Exxon Valdez) and will be hosted by dozens of schools, libraries, museums, and even embassies all around the city. Many of the festival’s 190 films are free, while others cost as little as $5-10. The movies range from children’s films to more serious documentaries; some — like The African Queen — are dramatizations, while others — like The Age of Aluminum — are straight fact. All are intended to “provide fresh perspectives on environmental issues facing our planet.”

DC Environmental Film Festival logo

DC-area residents should be particularly interested in The Anacostia River, a collection of short films about our local waterways. It will be showing on March 17 at the National Museum of American History.

Can’t make it to any of the films? Brush up on your environmental knowledge with the following Trinity resources:

For more information on the Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, and oil spills, check out the following articles:

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