Grad school students are planning to paint the campus green as they kick off Yale’s first environmental film festival this Thursday.

For the past eight months, a board of 10 Forestry & Environmental Studies students have collaborated to create the first Environmental Film Festival at Yale, which begins on April 16. The festival, a sustainable event sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, includes cutting-edge documentaries and films that seek to raise awareness about environmental issues. It will also feature several prominent speakers, such as Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of Yale Project on Climate Change, and activities around central campus.

Inspired by his work in Hollywood before entering Yale as a forestry student, Eric Desatnik FES ’10, executive director of the festival, spearheaded the event in order to combine his interests in film and sustainability.

“I’ve been enamored with films my entire life, and I worked several years in Hollywood before coming to Yale for grad school,” Desatnik said. “My two passions are film and the environment, so this festival just feels like a natural extension of myself.”

While the event coordinators said the mass medium of film will help broadcast their message, the board also made all the screenings and activities free in hopes of reaching a broad audience. They said they hope the event will attract medley of Elis and New Haven locals.

“We are reaching out to not only Yale undergrad and grad students, but also New Haven community members and beyond,” Destanik said. “It’s very important to us for this to be an all-inclusive, community-building event.”

The group of graduate students worked with residential college Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership coordinators and environmental ambassadors in the graduate schools to generate publicity and outreach campaigns. And the festival will be as sustainable as possible, Mary Fischer FES ’10, the festival’s director of sustainability, said..

Native Energy, a renewable energy company that is sponsoring the event, stepped in to provide cost-effective offsets for the carbon emissions that may be caused by transportation or buildings used throughout the festival. One of the main issues for the board relates to a broader environmental concern: the results from renewable energy do not counterbalance direct CO2 emissions.

In other words, the event will still leave a “carbon footprint,” Fischer said. But, she added, it will produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a standard festival of this magnitude.

The board also decided to collaborate with the Office of Sustainability at Yale to compose green guidelines for the event. The festival will be ticketless, to save paper, and will sell organic cotton T-shirts donated from EDUN Live, a T-shirt company.

The content of the films, which will be screened across New Haven from Kroon Hall to Criteron Cinemas, includes fuel, glacier melting, population dynamics, watershed effects and dozens of other environmental topics. Each film will be followed by a panel or Q&A discussion led by experts in the field.

One of the films, “I Am Because We Are,” was produced by Madonna. It tells the stories of Malawi children orphaned by AIDS and features interviews with Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu.

Samantha Carter ’10, the festival’s director of events, said one of the events will be a filmmaking workshop — teaching attendees about editing and the art of filmmaking — with “Milking the Rhino” director David Simpson and Wesleyan film professor Jacob Bricca.

Ultimately, the board of directors said by offering a different types of events, they will cater to variety of people and maximize their outreach efforts.

“Our hope is to serve as a ‘call to action’ in some cases,” Destanik said. “And in other cases to at least strengthen people’s appreciation of the world in which we live.”

The events will run until April 19.