Film festival spotlights efforts to improve cities
Toronto’s New Urbanism Film Festival has a mission you don’t often find at the movies: to inspire viewers to improve their communities.
Held over two days — yesterday (April 21) was the first and May 26 is the second — the festival is screening screen 30 short documentaries. Topics range from neighborhood revitalization to freeway removal to urban farming and to cycling culture.
Most of the films are about cities in the U. S. and Canada. London, Melbourne, Australia and Portugal are among the other locations represented. Several entries highlight grassroot movements to enhance urban environments. Frog Town is about efforts to restore the Los Angeles River, which has cement embankments for flood control. Graftstract documents how street artists were recruited to beautify the Bronx, a New York City borough, with legal graffiti.
Cycling culture features prominently as a theme. Vancouver Cycle Chic is about a librarian who doesn’t let a disability prevent her from biking to work. A dispute over a bike rack, and the ticketing of a cyclist for not riding in a dedicated lane, prompted films about the challenges of bicycling in New York.
The Toronto festival builds on another New Urbanism Film Festival held in Los Angeles annually since 2013. That will take place in October.