The 2015 New Urbanism Film Festival, the third annual edition here in Los Angeles, was bigger than ever. The festival began with a sold out screening of East LA Interchange on opening night, followed by a Q&A with Councilmember Jose Huizar. Over the four day weekend event, hundreds of attendees saw films about cities all over the world, toured different areas of the immediate neighborhood around the festival, and got to hear about the future of Los Angeles from the very people responsible for all the cool stuff you hear about happening in Los Angeles.
This year the festival received over 250 film submissions and the festival screen 55 films across 14 screenings during the weekend. Some were features, but mostly short films grouped by theme. All are in equal consideration for awards. “It was a treat to screen each of the films that we did screen,” said Paget. “But the winning films moved audiences in unique ways. If a film about urban planning makes someone cry, it’s a good film. If it can get someone to reconsider urban planning and to imagine themselves getting involved, that’s what earns the film an award.”
Complete list of winners below. The winning films will be screened at the 24th Annual Congress for the New Urbanism in Detroit Michigan on June 8-11. A local screening of the Award winners is TBA. Join our mailing list to stay up to date on New Urbanism Film Festival screenings and events.
Best of Fest:
I’d Rather Stay
A compassionate and eye-opening look at how the urban design of communities impact the health and quality of life of senior citizens. The dense community and walkability will allow them to live more healthy and independent lifestyles for a longer period of time. The interviews are a powerfully honest and vulnerable case for creating better places. The need for short blocks, transit, mixed uses, is not just an ideal for planners, or desirable status for millenials, it is a very real need for this demographic–one we all hope to join one day. This charming, compelling film was given the Best of Fest unanimously.
You can watch the short film here
Best Bicycle Film:
Arlington Passages: Natalie
Arlington Passages is a series of short films produced by Bike Arlington and directed by Modacity, the husband-wife team from Vancouver. “Natalie” features a real estate agent who gives tours to home owners by bicycle. She believes it gives the buyer a better feel of the community and connects them to their new neighborhood in a faster, friendly way. The film is beautifully shot with innovative techniques for filming by bicycle. The Bruntletts also won the 2013 NUFF award for Best Bicycle Film. The films continue to improve every year and we look forward to more of the films and their tremendous advocacy work that is not only re-shaping their hometown of Vancouver, but cities around the world like Arlington and Los Angeles.
You can watch the short film online here.
Best Street Art Film:
By enlisting the help of some of the world’s top street artists, J. “SinXero” Beltran has made it his mission to legally beautify the Bronx, the birthplace of graffiti, through his TAG Public Arts Project (The Art of Grafstract). Grafstact shows street art as uplifting public art that promotes a sense of place, ownership and equity in a neighborhood.
You can only see Grafstract at other great events like New Urbanism Film Festival. Follow Grafstract on Facebook for news on future screenings.
Best Urban Design Film:
A young Australian woman rediscovers her city’s public spaces through the narration of one of Melbourne’s urban designers who helped transform it from an dying wasteland into a vibrant place for people. Cerebral City was such a beautiful film audiences fell in love not just with the city of Melbourne, but with cities in general.
Best Urban Economies Film:
The Edge of Memphis
The Edge of Memphis tracks the trials and triumphs of MemFix, an incubator program for start up businesses planting roots at the edge of downtown Memphis. Abandoned warehouses, parking lots, and streets are being transformed and revived in the midst of a new boom of start up businesses putting a stake in the neighborhood. The program is inspiring and repeatable.
You Can Watch it online here.
Best Architecture Film:
Lutah Marie Rigss was a trailblazer in the architectural world of the 1920s and 30s. She played a pivotal role in developing the signature style of Spanish Revival in Southern California. The documentary provides new insight, new drawings, and new interviews that reveal a higher level of profundity in Rigg’s work. A must see for any fan of architecture.
Buy the feature length documentary on DVD here.
Best Healthy Cities Film:
Can You Dig This?
Ron Finley, the gangsta gardener of South Los Angeles, is famous for fighting city hall for the right to plant vegetables in the parkway in front of his house. He beat city hall, and he’s now raising a new crop of fellow gardeners, who are planting seeds, but harvesting hope for their community and theirselves. The movie proves that one person can make a difference, but that we don’t have to limit it to one person.
Find a screening (or request one) in a city near you, by using Gathr. Click here for more information.
Best Feature Film:
East LA Interchange
East LA Interchange chronicles the cultural shifts of the historic LA neighborhood Boyle Heights. The director, Betsy Kalin, presents a meticulously researched history of the community and handles current tensions with grace and compassion. Historic ties to Boyle Heights often seem threatened by development, this is a movie that Boyle Heights can be proud of and use it to boost awareness of the historic value, not just for Boyle Heights, but for all of Los Angeles.
Check the film’s website for information on local screenings. Click here.
Best Urbanism Sociology Film:
Every Speed is an experimental short documentary that explores how the disabled experience transportation networks. It pairs narration from disabled transportation users with POV shots and animation, in a way that leaves the audience experiencing the isolation, loneliness and disregard that are often felt by the narrators. It’s a powerful film that is frankly convicting at times when it exposes the way our design has a health bias.
License the film for educational use here. VOD coming soon!
Landfill: From Guppies to Yuppies
Landfill is a hilarious narrative exploring the social dynamics of “the innovation district” vs “the artists co-op.” Audiences loved this refreshing take on the gentrification. And ultimately, the narrator points out that the district was originally part of the bay and the original victims of gentrification were the guppies.
Landfill can only be seen at great events such as New Urbanism Film Festival.
Road to School
This short, 1 minute, parodies video games challenges contestants to… walk to school. It is a fun, light-hearted, comedy makes a solid case for better designed neighborhoods where kids could have a less challenging time walking to school.
Watch Road to School online here.
This fantastic “expose” from the folks, okay folk, behind WalkLobbyTV shows how planners developed an auto oriented bias in city and regional planning. It is charming and incendiary. And for walking such a fine line, we gave it an honorable mention.
Watch Streetsploitation online here.
Gracen Johnson started a business incubator for small businesses in Fredericton, Canada. The business plans are not for people who want to sell off the business. It’s for people building equity in the neighborhoods. This unique model of placemaking is truly inspiring and eye-opening and we wanted to award it an honorable mention.
Watch Do Season online here.