Earth, Wind, Fire and Film 

The elements of a rousing environmental festival appear for two days during the Biggest Picture.

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The Biggest Picture film festival returns to Carytown's Byrd Theatre for its second year on Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17. The festival's unofficial mascot is Dr. Seuss' “The Lorax,” which will kick off the environmentally minded event for the second time.

That's festival director John Wade's favorite social-message movie, he says, because, “It is a useful, beautiful metaphor about corporate profiteering with public resources and the impact of industrialization on the environment.”

Most of the films during the event follow suit. The festival also includes speakers, such as Virginia Commonwealth University professor and festival staff member Michael Jones, who offers a program on the depiction of nature and technology in horror films.

Wade says he and the staff organize the festival in part to energize people, “but mostly,” he says, “to educate people about the nuances of the many proposed solutions to environmental problems.” Cap and trade? No, carbon tax. Hybrids? No, we have electric vehicle technology now.

If the Biggest Picture is Richmond's Lorax, here are a few of the more interesting “trees” it'll be speaking for (and against):

The Bicycles: For the festival's screening of “Return of the Scorcher,” director Ted White makes an appearance to discuss his film about bicycle resurgence and the mass riding events that appeared in the '90s that the movie supposedly spurred, dubbed Critical Mass. It will be followed by White's film “Contested Streets.” May 16, 11:30 a.m.

The Electric Cars: Among the most maddening revelations available at the festival is that America once had a viable electric car, in production and for sale. The EV1 was extremely popular before GM yanked it from owners' grips and had the program crushed. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” chronicles this sad chapter in the undermining of American ingenuity. May 16, 2 p.m.

The Water: If you dig conspiracy theories, one of the scariest is the discreet accumulation of world water supplies by cartels, a phenomenon turned into a plot point in the last James Bond movie. “Flow” interviews scientists and activists to get at the question of whether water ownership is morally and legally defensible. May 17, 1:35 p.m.

The Plastic: If it sometimes feels like human innovation and despoiling go hand in hand, no modern invention has made a stronger visual case than plastic. “Addicted to Plastic” reveals the scope of the problem while hailing the groups of men and women trying to clean up the mess. May 17, 5:40 p.m. S



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