Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our third film, Urbanized., directed by Gary Hustwit. Our reviewer this month is yowLAB co-director Sarah Gelbard. Her review/synopsis is included below.
- If you have not yet watched the film, the Ottawa Public Library has several copies, it is also available for online rental on cinemanow and distrify.
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We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .
I often recommend this documentary to people as a great intro to contemporary urban issues. It is accessible and interesting to a broad audience with or without expertise in urbanism, planning, architecture, or design. As can be expected of any survey, Urbanized does not delve deeply into any of the issues it raises but still manages to not be overly superficial. Though critical at times, the overall tone is about being inspirational and hopeful.
I’m not normally one to yell at my tv, but the first time I saw Urbanized I found myself cheering for the mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa. Of course a citizen on a $30 bike is as important to a city as someone in a $30k car. Of course a bus with 100 passengers should be entitled to 100 times more space and resources as a single-passenger car. Or applauding when Jan Gehl who tells us “A good city is like a good party.” Or laughing when Ellen Dunham-Jones compares sprawl to pornography.
The closing speech of the film wraps up the very human message about cities:
We’re on the cusp of dramatic set of forces coming together. Fundamentally as a species, we need things that can power our imaginations, that can get our passions going, and give us a sense of meaning. And that is not a brick. It is not a pipe. It is an idea. That’s what drives cities forward.
– Edgar Pieterse, director African Centre for Cities
Instead of a comprehensive review and synopsis of this expansive documentary, I’ve created a bit of a guide and timeline through the cities and themes. I hope you, dear readers, will help fill in some details and the talking points you found of greatest interest. Join me in the comment section below and I will get the ball rolling with some of mine.
All images are screenshots captured from Urbanized.