Debra Wolf Goldstein, executive director and co-founder of the festival, said about five months ago, they had to rework how they would show the 50 films that had been curated for the event.
"COVID hit and we had to pivot, and we were able to get agreement from every single one of the filmmakers to put their films on in this virtual format," she said.
Through their new virtual format, Goldstein said they were able to add extra programming.
"We also have partnered with the Academy of Natural Sciences this year, and this is something new this year to create in-depth panel discussions on many of the topics explored in the films," she revealed.
The new format has brought with it new opportunities.
"We have people who are going to be calling from Berlin and Quebec," Goldstein said. "Filmmakers who wouldn't otherwise be able to join us in an in-person fest, now you can hear them talk on different panel discussions from around the world."
50 films were carefully curated out of 310 entries from 42 countries.
"We want them to understand the beauty and the fragility of the planet," she said.
Goldstein explained the films are meant to be interesting and make the viewer feel a connection with the environment.
"My personal favorite is one called 'The River in the Wall,' and it's about five friends and they go on this weeks-long adventure biking and hiking, and riding horses and canoeing the river, and this is the area (in Texas) where the border wall is going to be built," she shared.
She also highlighted a short film featured this year, made by the winner of a student film competition sponsored by the festival.
"This year, the winner is a local middle schooler from Masterman who won the student prize for a film about the youth climate march that took place in Philadelphia in November," she said.
Tickets cost $12 per film or $30 for an unlimited virtual pass.
"And a portion of the proceeds are going to be donated to buy tickets to the festival for Philadelphia public school kids," said Goldstein.
The festival takes place September 23-27. A list of films can be found at the festival website.