FORGET Cannes and Sundance – 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 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 tomorrow, 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 under way on Friday at Darwen Library Theatre from 7pm with a screening of The Moo Man, a 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 weeks 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 risks and prepare communities for extreme weather, and will feature free water-themed films and workshops such as umbrella decorating.

Leisure, culture and young people chief, Coun Damian Talbot said: “There’s 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.”