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Local films headline RVA Environmental Film Fest

February 5, 2014 11:12am

A few weeks back I was looking at the lineup of films in the RVA Environmental Film Festival, which begins today and runs through Sunday, and saw a couple of productions by local filmmakers that piqued my interest.

Melissa Lesh has two movies entered in the festival. One — Fairy Shrimp — is a four-minute mini-documentary on an ancient species that lives in vernal pools in, among other places, various James River Park System parcels. Ralph White co-wrote and directed the piece with Lesh, which will be shown on Friday (Feb. 7 at the Visual Arts Center at 8:55 p.m.)

Lesh also produced a documentary called James River Sturgeon, which won first place among local documentaries at the festival. That will be shown at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Byrd Theater.

But Lesh’s isn’t the only sturgeon-related documentary available to festival goers. Local photographer and filmmaker Elli Morris produced The Great Return (trailer above) for the James River Association, a sponsor of the film festival. Morris said the 15-minute film wasn’t completed in time to be entered in the festival, but it will be shown at the after party at 6:30 on Sunday at Hardywood. Like the festival itself, that is free and open to the public.

Morris said she shot The Great Return, which is aimed at middle to high school educators, as well as the general public, over five days in October.

“We just ended up with some amazing footage,” she said. “The days we went out, we just saw a lot of sturgeon. It’s really focusing on the fact that if we can keep the river clear of sediment then the sturgeon will return.”

And if, after taking in Fairy Shrimp and a double helping of sturgeon, you haven’t had your fill of the James River, you can find another film by Morris — Affair with the James — at the Byrd on Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m.

Click here to learn more about the 4th annual RVA Environmental Film Festival and to see the lineup of films.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?