Watch Now, Watch Local: Why Community Stories Matter

The “local” tag included in the Environmental Film Festival’s #WATCHNOW collection provides viewers with an opportunity to explore regional storytelling, right here in the DC-metro area. The local filmmakers featured in this collection make connections between their community and their audience by telling personal and impactful stories.

The two films below are prime examples of why local stories matter and must continue to be told.

Film and Video Studies at George Mason University is training young filmmakers to be impactful local storytellers—ones who are courageous and inclusive. Over 80 of these student films and collaborations will be screened at the George Mason University’s Fall Film Showcase from December 7-9.

This year’s three-day showcase highlights films from all levels, from beginning video production, intermediate narrative directing in documentary and fiction, to senior films. The Showcase is free and open to the public. Highlights include Sir, Kaidan Blackmer’s film about coming out as young transgender man and Brother, Clay Stanley’s story of twins who are struggling with one of the brother’s cerebral palsy.

Film and Video Studies is a Bachelor of Arts degree program in cinematic arts production grounded in critical engagement. Mason’s program emphasizes diversity in perspectives, socially conscious storytelling and inclusive film practices.

Please visit the Film and Video Studies website for more information on the program or contact



Fly By Light

A group of teenagers board a bus for West Virginia, leaving the streets of Washington, DC to participate in an ambitious peace education program. For the first time in their lives Mark, Asha, Martha, and Corey play in mountain streams, sing under the stars, and confront the entrenched abuse, violence and neglect cycles of their past. But as they return to DC, each young person faces an unforgiving series of hurdles and roadblocks that challenge their efforts to build a better life. Through breathtaking visuals from street corners to mountaintops, Fly By Light is an intimate exploration of the chaotic, confusing, and emotional journey to rewrite a young person’s future.

Directed by Ellie Walton and Produced by HawaH.

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City of Trees

At the height of the recession, a DC nonprofit struggles to implement an ambitious “green jobs” program that hires 150 unemployed residents to plant trees in underserved parks. With only six months until their grant money runs out, serious obstacles block their path and speak to deep rifts in the life of the city — racial tensions, uneven government support, and locals who feel their voices have not been heard. But for the trainees the program represents something much more hopeful: the means to give a child a better life, a second chance after a conviction, or a path to community leadership.

Featured in the film: Washington Parks & PeopleDC Green Corps Training Program

Directed by Brandon Kramer and produced by Lance Kramer, Meridian Hill Pictures. 

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