The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, in its 20th year, gives nearly as much attention to the built environment as the natural one. So it’s fitting that one of the opening-day offerings is a documentary that considers a controversial development project and a formerly pristine location, as well as a guy who keeps making noise about coming to Washington: Donald Trump.
“You’ve Been Trumped” (7 p.m. Tuesday at E Street Cinema) considers the ostentatious golf-course development Trump is building in Scotland, on a section of coastline known for an ecologically significant natural dune area. “We’ve saved the dunes,” Trump announces in the movie, shortly before his workers bulldoze them. The developer is just as ruthless with the neighbors who refused to sell their property to him, cutting off their water and power and threatening to seize their land by the British equivalent of eminent domain. This polemical film is clearly on the side of holdouts, but it’s hard to imagine how the story could have been spun to make Trump look good.
(Montrose Pictures) - In “You’ve Been Trumped,” the Donald fights hard to get a golf course built in Scotland.
(Jason Savage/Environmental Film Festival in the Nation‘s Capital) - Filmmaker Ken Burns will appear at the festival.
Perhaps the angriest of the films offered for preview — and the only one in which the director is arrested for his efforts — “You’ve Been Trumped” is among 180 entries in this year’s festival. More than half the movies are local debuts, and at least nine are world premieres. The films include features and shorts, documentaries and animation, children’s fare and grown-up material. There will be nearly 200 special guests, including 75 filmmakers.
The fest commences Tuesday at noon with “The Broken Moon,” screening at the National Geographic Society. Set in the imposing western Himalayas, the movie considers the plight of ethnic Tibetans whose nomadic life is under ecological stress. The moon may not be broken, but something is: The area has experienced the most dramatic temperature increases on the planet, and the dried-out grasslands no longer provide sufficient water or food to support traditional pastoral life. One of the young men is considering a move to the exhaust-choked city, and the movie shows a culture where people weave yak-hair fabric but have access to solar panels and satellite phones.
A different sort of culture clash is the crux of Mark Lewis’s 1988 “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History,” an eco-disaster classic that’s shown previously at the event. This year, fans of the South American critters that were catastrophically introduced to Australia can see the director’s 2011 sequel, “Cane Toads: The Conquest.” This light-hearted ode to the toads, who are incredibly prolific and apparently unstoppable, features both enemies and friends of the voracious (and poisonous) amphibians. The latter include some Aussie dogs, who’ve learned that licking a toxic toad produces the canine equivalent of an acid trip. Or at least that’s what this playful movie claims.
Unlike cane toads, India’s wild tigers are not proliferating. Some of the reasons for that are explained in “Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey,” in which a small film crew follows the likely path of a young male tiger who left the Ranthambhore wildlife reserve. It’s a sad story, but the astonishingly intimate footage of Broken Tail with his mother and brother as the boys grow from cubs to adults balances the melancholy.