- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 10, 2001

The Environmental Film Festival returns for an 11-day showcase beginning Thursday (March 15).

The event offers opportunities for residents and tourists who want to maximize scenic appeal, economy and content in their movie going. More than 100 titles, typically documentary features and shorts about nature, wildlife, conservation, park systems, agriculture, exploration and ecology, will be shown.

Rallying the cooperation of several cultural and governmental organizations, the festival may accommodate as many as 10 programs on the busiest days.

If you're strolling along the Mall, you will be sure to encounter an Environmental Film Festival selection at one site or another. The participating institutions include the National Gallery of Art; the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the National Archives; the Library of Congress; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The embassies of Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France and the Netherlands also will host screenings. Other sites range from the Department of Interior to the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which hosts two of the most interesting vintage programs. A Friday double bill there features the 1929 Soviet feature "Turksib," alluding to the Turkish-Siberian Railroad, and the 1926 Hollywood version of "The Winning of Barbara Worth," which co-starred Gary Cooper, Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky, against the setting of the Imperial Valley in California. The workshop is at 545 Seventh St. SE. This free program starts at 6:30 p.m.

Almost all festival programs are free. In fact, so few require an admission charge that singling them out is easy: a documentary feature called "The Prince is Back," scheduled for Friday under Smithsonian Associates auspices at the S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW; a children's program March 17 at the Visions Cinema, Bistro and Lounge at 1927 Florida Ave. NW; and a new IMAX attraction, "Journey Into Amazing Caves," which debuts March 19 at the Natural History Museum's Johnson IMAX Theater.

The other is a stirring documentary feature, "The Endurance," a chronicle of the survival saga of the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica in 1914. Also hosted at Visions Cinema, "The Endurance" will be shown at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. March 24, augmented by discussions with the film's director, George Butler.

The subjects available to festival spectators range from elephants to flowers to chickens to potatoes to Yosemite National Park to donkeys to garbage disposal to birds to rain forests to robotics to Florida's Everglades to turtles to a massive dam project on China's Yangtze River.

Lemurs get double exposure. Primatologist Patricia Wright, who helped to establish a national park to protect the lemur population of Madagascar, is one of the subjects of Michael Apted's "Me & Isaac Newton."

"Operation Lemur With John Cleese" finds the erstwhile Monty Python comedian on the same terrain. The latter will be shown at 11 a.m. March 17 at the National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Mr. Apted's film follows 24 hours later at the same site.

The esteemed documentary producer Charles Guggenheim will host a showing of his 1992 biographical project, "A Life: The Story of Lady Bird Johnson," at 2 p.m. March 18 in Carmichael Auditorium at the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

A new documentary short, "Growing Smart, Building Green," salutes the headquarters building of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis. The World Resources Institute at 10 G Street NE hosts this film at 6 p.m. Thursday. Smith Island in Chesapeake Bay is the subject of "Island out of Time," a documentary short scheduled for 4:15 p.m. March 20 in the lecture hall of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1201 17th Street NW.

The Library of Congress will recall the exploits of animal hunter Frank Buck in a double bill — "Fang and Claw," circa 1935, and "Tiger Fangs," circa 1943 — at 6:30 p.m. March 20 in the Mary Pickford Theater. "Tiger Fangs" is the more heavily fictionalized, since it envisions Mr. Buck as combination of hunter and Allied espionage agent in the jungles of Asia. The Pickford Theater is in the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Avenue SE.

Festival brochures may be obtained at participating sites. They also can be requested by calling 202/342-2564.WHAT: Environmental Film FestivalWHERE: 45 participating organizations, including most of the museums, several libraries and several embassiesWHEN: Thursday through March 25. A pair of advance, invitational programs are scheduled Monday and Tuesday.TICKETS: Free for all but a handful of programs. However, reservations are required for some programs.PHONE: 202/342-2564WEB SITE: www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org

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