Students in want of a cheap date or some interesting talking points need look no further than this week’s Tales From Planet Earth Film Festival. Madison’s only annual environmental film festival has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2007, thanks in part to the popularity of its free movie showings, and founders of the festival are saying the festival hopes to present audiences with a surprising view of environmentalism.

Rather than choosing to only show documentaries with preachy calls to action, the festival presents films that allow audiences to see environmentalism through more than just the lens of global climate change or offshore drilling. From the story of a butcher who bonds with a pig (“Divine Pig”) to a documentary on Latino immigrants eking out a life in New York City, the festival leaves no stoned unturned in the search for diverse subjects.

In addition to well-funded projects aided by distributors and production companies, the festival is showing numerous student films over the week. Six directors will be in attendance at specified showings of their films being shown at the festival. The film “The City Dark” appropriately focuses on light pollution and hopes to itself be a meta study into the phenomenon through producing its own pollution. The director, Ian Cheney, will be speaking at the showing.

Events will be taking place around Madison, from the Overture Center to Union South’s Marquee Theater. The final event will take place on the rooftop garden of the Overture Center, weather permitting. The full schedule of the film festival is included on the website below.

The Tales From Planet Earth Film Festival runs this week through Saturday. Admission to all events is free on a first come, first served basis. For more information, go to