The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

VCU to hold Richmond's first environmental film festival

The Virginia Commonwealth University Ecodefense is organizing The BIGGEST Picture, Richmond's first environmental film festival.

Local environmentalist and VCU student John Wade coordinated The BIGGEST Picture.

"I decided Richmond was ready for an environmental film festival, which would give Richmond an opportunity to talk about environmentalism and priorities and emphasis within environmentalism," Wade said in an e-mail interview.

The film festival will take place on Feb. 9 and 10 at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. During the two days, there will be eight films and four noted environmental speakers, including Ralph Nader, who will speak for an hour and a half and sign books.

Another speaker at the film festival, VCU professor Michael Jones, is also part of the inspiration behind The BIGGEST Picture. Jones co-founded a local nonprofit organization called The Richmond Moving Image Co-op that organizes the James River Film Festival and Italian Film Festival. Last semester, Wade enrolled in Jones' History of Nonfiction Film class.

"We started talking about environmentalism and the need for more radical action, and we found we like some of the same people and ideas in the environmental movement," Wade said of the students in Jones' class. "I am an English major, but his class helped convince me that film was a powerful way to educate people."

Jones will give a speech called "Nonfiction Film and the Environment," discussing the evolution and continued role of documentaries in education and representation of nature and technology. He will also be introducing "The Milagro Beanfield War," which captures the ongoing battle between the average citizen's rights and the powers of "overdevelopers," such as shopping malls and golf resorts.

"My hope is that the festival will be an important educational resource and awaken Richmonders to the current threats to our environment and quality of life," Jones said.

Wade said he and his team thought the eight films would provide the Richmond community with an opportunity to raise awareness of and to have a conversation about the critical environmental issues that are currently affecting the planet.

"Overpopulation and corporate profiteering are the two most uncomfortable environmental topics and two of the most urgent," Wade said. Films such as "The Corporation," which includes interviews from several prominent corporate insiders and critics, will highlight the destructive nature and influence that corporations have on the environment. Other topics featured at the film festival include overpopulation, pollution, deforestation, global warming, open space destruction and mountaintop removal mining.

Through the messages delivered by the films and speakers, Wade said he hoped to give members of the Richmond community an opportunity to talk about environmentalism and priorities as well as to funnel money toward different environmental nonprofits.

Tickets for this weekend's event cost $10 for a full-day pass or $15 for a two-day pass.

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The film festival is being sponsored by Keith-Fabry Reprographic Solutions, Ellwood Thompson's Natural Market, Style Weekly, Alchemy Eco-Boutique, Black Swan Books, and the Richmond Moving Image Co-op.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.thebiggestpicture.org.

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