FILM fans can enjoy a fortnight of free movies when the People and Planet Film Festival returns to Blackburn and Darwen this week for a second year.

There will be free screenings of 17 films at different venues including Blackburn Museum, Blackburn Library and Darwen Library Theatre.

The festival will be launched on Friday evening but a special ‘pre festival taster’ will be held at the newly-opened Blackburn is Open pop-up cinema on Thursday with a free showing of documentary film Burning Ice.

Beginning at 5.30pm, Burning Ice sees the coming together of five marine scientists and 10 artists from around the world who sail to Longyearbyen in Norway to see the effects of climate change first hand.

The festival will get underway on Friday at Darwen Library Theatre from 7pm with a screening of The Moo Man, a humorous but poignant documentary about the British dairy farming industry.

The festival aims to inspire debate about environmental issues by hosting workshops, talks and showing films with an ecological theme.

Other films due to be shown across the two-week programme include Rango, Avatar, Bee Movie, The Lorax, Trashed and Up In Smoke, each of which will be used to focus on a different environmental issue, from sustainable farming to the declining population of bees.

This year’s event is sponsored by Flood Watch, a community project designed to raise awareness about flood risk and prepare communities for extreme weather, and will feature free water-themed films and workshops such as umbrella decorating.

Executive member for leisure, culture and young people, Councillor Damian Talbot said: “The film festival returns this year with some great films for all the family and it’s going to be at even more venues across the borough, making it even easier for people to come along.

“There’s certainly something to suit everyone and hopefully we’ll see people taking advantage of what’s on offer to make this festival even better than the last.”