Visionary Filmmakers Honored at New Urbanism Film Festival
Awards in 12 categories recognize best films on urban placemaking
The 5th Annual New Urbanism Film Festival culminated on Sunday, October 22, with an awards ceremony to honor the films and filmmakers who’ve made an exceptional contribution to the conversation on placemaking in an increasingly urban world. Categories focused on specific aspects of urbanism, including bicycling, street art, and architecture, as well as recognizing Best of Fest, Best Feature and Best Emerging Ideas Film.
“The festival and its suite of films are vitally important to helping grow the New Urbanism movement,” said John Simmerman, director of Seattle Pocket Neighborhoods Tour (Best Architecture Film), who attended all four days of the festival. “All the films were solid—personal favorites included the feature-length doc The Longest Straw, Streetfilms & Streetsblog: The First Ten Years, and the Biketown YYJ music video.”
which followed filmmaker Samantha Bode on a 65-day trek along the 338-mile route of the Los Angeles aqueduct from the Mono Basin and Owens Valley, garnered the Best Healthy Cities Film award for its on-ground investigation of the people and places affected by the aqueduct.
“This festival is not just for your average filmmaker,” said Bode. “It is specifically geared towards activist filmmakers that are using their craft to highlight the change that they want to see in the world. A lot of my discussions with other filmmakers of the festival were geared towards not only our processes as filmmakers, but how to be activists through our filmmaking.”
Crowd favorites included Instrument of Change: Street Piano (Best Street Art Film), a short film celebrating human connection in urban spaces spurred on by the presence of street pianos, and Cycologic (Best of Fest), which shares urban planner Amanda Ngabirano’s dream of having a cycling lane Kampala, where extreme congestion makes traveling through the city a chaotic and dangerous struggle. The film has received numerous accolades at film festivals internationally, with NUFF’s Best of Fest award adding to its honors.
“More people are living in cities than ever before. It is therefore vital that cities are designed for people—and the planet, ” said Brenda Mattick, director of Fried Dumplings & Bicycles (Best Global Urbanism Film). “This film festival focuses on the problems of urbanization but in a creative, fun, and interdisciplinary way.”
Immediately preceding the NUFF awards ceremony, all of the films submitted for the weeklong Urbanism Filmmaking Challenge were premiered. LA’s Forbidden City earned top honors (Best Urbanism Filmmaking Challenge) for its tour of the functional-yet-forbidden residential architecture that, while once accommodating to the city’s growing population, is now illegal to build due to planning codes since put in place. The short film brings attention to the city’s growing housing crisis and calls for prohibitive planning requirements to be revisited.
“This event is the best encapsulation of the entirety of the new urbanism movement,” said Howard Blackson, president of the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) California Chapter. “It’s not just designers, or architecture, or bikes, or transit, or grassroots, or master planners; it’s all those things, and it’s all those people.” The CNU California Annual Awards were presented at NUFF as part of its’ Saturday program. “We’re happy to present the CNU California Annual Awards at the New Urbanism Film Festival because the fest introduces so many people to new urbanism and we want to introduce the longtime practitioners of the new urbanism to the newest members of the movement.”
BEST ARCHITECTURE FILM: SEATTLE POCKET NEIGHBORHOODS – John Simmerman
BEST BICYCLE FILM: BIKETOWN YYJ – Matt Hulse & Madeleine Shaw
BEST EMERGING IDEAS FILM: WOMEN JUST WANT TO BE SAFE – Kristin Tieche & Adrienne Johnson
BEST FEATURE FILM: PRICED OUT – Cornelius Swart
BEST GLOBAL URBANISM FILM: FRIED DUMPLINGS & BICYCLES – Brenda Mattick
BEST HEALTHY CITIES FILM: THE LONGEST STRAW – Samantha Bode – Angela Jorgensen
BEST STREET ART FILM: THE CARDBOARD ARTIST – Luka Fisher
BEST TACTICAL URBANISM FILM: INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE – Maureen Ni Fiann & Tom Rochester
BEST URBAN DESIGN FILM: REDEMPTION SQUARE – John Moody
BEST URBANISM SOCIOLOGY FILM: TONY THE MOVIE – Dennis Stein
BEST WALKABILITY FILM: THERE’S ALWAYS A WAY – Darryl Jones
BEST OF FEST: CYCOLOGIC – Emilia Stålhammar, Veronica Pålsson, Elsa Lövdin
BEST URBANISM FILMMAKING CHALLENGE: LA’S FORBIDDEN CITY – Jacob Fisher & Mark Vallianatos.