RVA Environmental Film Festival begins this weekend

While film festivals seem a dime a dozen lately, a very unique festival with a very distinct purpose kicks off this weekend. Featuring new documentaries never shown in Richmond and classic programs, the RVA Environmental Film Festival hopes to build on last year’s attendance numbers.

This Saturday, the Byrd Theatre will screen the 1972 cartoon adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s book, The Lorax. This will launch the 2012 RVA Environmental Film Festival. The two-day event will showcase documentaries and features–some for the first time to a Richmond audience–on a host of environment-related topics. “We want people to be more aware,” said Scott Burger, co-Chair of the Sierra Club Falls of the James Group, the principal organizers of the film festival. He hopes the two-day event “appeals to a lot of different people.”

Following The Lorax cartoon will be a documentary on what the FBI has named America’s “number one domestic terrorist threat,” the Earth Liberation Front. While the Film Festival neither endorses nor condones the behavior of the Earth Liberation Front, Burger said it is wise to “examine all forms of activism,” even if one is critical of the methods, something that he thinks the film, If a Tree Falls, does well. A reviewer in Variety said the documentary “must be seen to be believed.” The film will premiere in Richmond at the festival.

Another documentary that Burger is excited for audiences to see may appeal more directly to Richmond and its urban landscape. The film The City Dark examines the disservice and damage that light pollution continues to have on people and the environment. It’s another film that will premiere in Richmond through the festival, and Burger thinks that the documentary “speaks to things happening in Richmond.” The film also features well-known astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The RVA Environmental Film Festival was originally named The Biggest Picture, and ran in 2008 and 2009. The Sierra Club Falls of the James Group resurrected the festival in 2011. Burger says that last year’s single-day festival drew 300 people. He anticipates that number to double this year. “I’m very positive,” said Burger, who envisions next year’s festival as a week-long event. The festival, it seems, is resonating more and more with Richmond, and Burger senses that the festival will not wither. In fact, he thinks the opposite will happen.

“I think it will grow.”

Festival passes are available for $15 at Chop Suey and Video Fan. Individual program tickets are $5.

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