Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Sometimes the most beautiful things are the ones we take for granted on a daily basis. One example of that is also the subject of Urbanized, the new documentary by Gary Hustwit: our cities. From the roads, to the trees, to the buildings and sidewalks, almost every square foot of every city in the world is carefully planned, yet we drive around not thinking about the intricate detail that was considered years and years ago to try and control congestion, pollution and a million other things. Hustwit’s previous documentaries, Helvetica and Objectified, were also about seemingly mundane subjects but, once he was done with them, you couldn’t look at typography or everyday objects the same way again. Urbanized will certainly do the same for your place of residence.
Read a plot description and see the new trailer after the jump.
Thanks to I Watch Stuff for the heads up.
For more on the film and when you might get a chance to see it, head to its official website.
Here’s the description from the Toronto Film Festival where Urbanized recently had its World Premiere.
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Director Gary Hustwit has an impressive track record when it comes to exploring the world of design. His popular essay films Helvetica and Objectified profiled the makers of graphics and household objects, respectively, by combining smart interviews with stylish cinematography. His latest film completes a design trilogy and hits even closer to home by looking at cities. In Urbanized, we meet architects, politicians, city planners, activists and others who bring fresh approaches to urban living. The film presents invigorating new strategies for meeting the challenges faced by populations that are expanding (like Mumbai) and shrinking (like Detroit).
City planning has inspired many great writers — from Jane Jacobs to Rem Koolhaas, who are both covered in Urbanized — but not as many filmmakers. Yet cinema has a great advantage, as Hustwit demonstrates by transporting us around the world to visually experience urban projects. In Santiago, the architect Alejandro Aravena tours new models for low-income housing. In Cape Town, landscape architect Tarna Klitzner explains how better walking paths in the Khayelitsha township helped reduce violence by forty per cent. In New Orleans, the artist Candy Chang solicits local input, placing stickers on abandoned buildings that read “I Wish This Was…” In Bogotá, mayor Enrique Peñalosa implements a plan to put public transportation ahead of private automobiles. Describing his mission, he quotes the Colombian constitution, which stipulates, “All citizens are equal before the law.” As Peñalosa pointedly adds, “This is not just poetry.”
Over half of today’s world population lives in cities; demographers expect that number to rise to seventy-five per cent by 2050. Urbanized looks at how governments implement decisions from the top down, but also how movements can rise from the bottom up. In Detroit, residents of a blighted neighbourhood clear vacant lots to plant vegetable gardens. In Stuttgart, protestors fight a plan to clear 200-year-old trees for new buildings. Hustwit’s film inspires us to look more carefully at our cities and become active in shaping their future.