The magic of film and urbanism converge in LA

The second annual New Urbanism Film Festival will take place on November 6-9 at the ACME Theater in Los Angeles. 

The New Urbanism Film Festival is the only film festival that addresses urban design from the pedestrian level to inspire civic activism, according to the organizers. The festival includes four feature films plus presentations by film-makers and urbanists in addition to events like a walking and bicycle tours, food and drink, and awards.

It is described as "a four-day immersive experience of documentary films, events, tours, workshops and conversations opening a meaningful dialogue, about revitalizing neighborhoods and cities into walkable, healthy, diverse, thriving places, between planners, developers, architects, engineers, public officials, investors, community activists and the general public."

The following films will include:

American Makeover, the feature film documentary slated to open the Festival on Thursday night, November 6th at 8pm, is a powerfully demonstrative tale of four American cities in the quest for the antidote to suburban sprawl. “We’re hoping to remind audiences of the harms of sprawl, but really focus on the solution, which comes down to how we design towns and communities,“ says Dr. Chris Elisara of First+Main Media. The film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and local urbanists. See the trailer below.

Trainsforming America will screen on Friday evening, November 7th at 8pm.  It addresses the imperative need of high-speed rail in America from the awareness and funding provided by the US Government to the actual need of every-day Americans across the country.  “The reason I made this film is because I feel a heightened sense of responsibility to do whatever I can to ensure that my generation’s opportunities are no longer car dependent,” film-director Rebecca Autumn Sansom told Inhabitat.

The film is followed by a presentation on the new Master Plan for the Los Angeles Union Station conducted by Debra Gerod, FAIA of Gruen Associates, the firm responsible for the master plan. The new plan aims to encompass all forms of transit including biking, walking, buses, local and regional trains, and even the LA River.  “We understood that to be successful, it was vital to find ways to enhance bicycle and pedestrian connections between the station and all of the many surrounding communities.” explains Debra Gerod, FAIA.

The presentation is followed by an on-stage interview of Ms. Gerod by the film’s director, Ms. Sansom.

Power To The Pedals, the film scheduled on Saturday night, November 8th at 8pm, follows its young heroine, Wenzday Jane, a former child of public housing into her rebuild life focused on recycling transportation through her business on cargo tricycle vehicles reshaping communities in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, MA.  “Bikes represent self-reliance and autonomy.” chimes Wendzay Jane.  Designing her own cargo trikes and creating a business around them, Wenzday is lowering the footprint of our transportation system, one bicycle at a time.  “Shot in an intimate, lyrical style, the documentary follows her as she builds an organization of riders and cargo bicycles that work in agriculture, food delivery, composting, recycling and waste-hauling – plus community building” – the film’s director Bob Nesson explains.

The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director Bob Nesson and civic leaders.

Plant This Movie on closing night, Sunday, November 9th at 7pm, takes us across the globe looking at metropolises where their citizens are growing their own food right where they live.  And they want you to join them! 

“Plant This Movie” explores the zeitgeist of urban farming around the world, from the incredible story of Havana, Cuba to communities of urban farmers in cities as diverse as Shanghai, Calcutta, Addis Ababa, London, and Lima.  In the US, the story focuses on New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.  The film is narrated by actress Daryl Hannah.

The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and local activist gardeners.