Early Reviews of Submissions

From an unpublished interview on another blog.

Last year, the New Urbanism Film Festival screened over 50 short films and feature length documentaries.  Each had an emphasis on improving the built environment for the future.  In 2015, the festival will be in October and submissions are still open.  If you have a film you’d like to enter, there’s still time to submit it.  I caught up with Josh Paget, the director of the festival, to ask him a bit more about film submissions to the festival.

What kinds of films do you look to include in the festival?

Well we have about 8 different categories from architecture to urban farming.  But all of them, no matter the category, help us discover how the built environment relates to us as people.  What’s attractive to me about the New Urbanism is that it takes on a role of advocate.  Narrowing streets is not just an aesthetic preference, but a moral value: it makes it safer for kids, increases physical health, boosts local economy, etc.  Whereas before things like small blocks, walkable neighborhoods were built out of necessity, we’ve gone beyond that capability and now that we have built a range of options for the living conditions of humans, we can look at this method and say this was the right one.

What kind of people have been submitting films?

We get videos from a wide range of filmmakers. From academy-award winning documentary producers to the college kid with a phone camera making a video about why his street needs a road diet.  It’s not about the films, it’s about the ideas.

Are they all documentaries?

For the most part, yes.  But we’ve had a few parodies, short narratives, and animations.

So, it’s not just videos of talks we’ve seen at CNU?

No. If you want to see that, you should go to CNU! (June 8-11 in Detroit)

Are the films available online?

Some of them are, yes. But that is up to the producer of each film.  What the festival offers is a pairing of film and local urban thinkers.  After a film about Bus Rapid Transit in Bogota, we’ll have the project director for the BRT here in Los Angeles.  We can get into the specifics of bringing the project to reality for L.A.  That intermingling is something you can’t get online.

Are you looking for anything in specific?

We are trying to breed a video of the best explanation of New Urbanism and why it matters.  We’ve seen some good ones, but I enjoy seeing better and better ones each year.  Lately there has been a lot, A LOT, of videos about urban gardening.  People taking over rooftops, or abandoned lots, or parkways, and planting food.  Those are inspiring.  I hope that same DIY attitude towards gardening will spread into other areas of urbanism.  I’d like to see that mentality applied to road diets, parklets, cross walks, energy efficiency, and the economics of infrastructure.

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