Festival organizers waded through more than 300 films submitted from 47 countries before settling on 54 that will be featured on two screens running simultaneously throughout the weekend.
"Everything from short, two-minute animated films to experimental films to straight up narrative documentaries that are feature length," said festival executive director Debra Wolf Goldstein.
She says while viewers can explore such weighty matters as climate change, pollution and poaching, it's not all doom and gloom.
Artistic director Alexandra Drobac Diagne says you can go on a journey to Africa without leaving the theatre lobby.
"You can sit on a stool and have this helmet on and be immersed in sound and sight and feeling of being in the plains of northern Kenya, and seeing herds of animals coming towards you and running past you and turning around to see things in the sky and in the water and it's a wonderful experience. And we're offering this ten minute experience," Diagne said.
The festival opens this Friday at the Philadelphia Film Center on Chestnut Street near Broad.