This year, FORM and Balcony Press return as media sponsors for the 2014 edition of the New Urbanism Film Festival, a unique event focusing on urban design and architecture at the pedestrian level. Now in its second year, the festival is bigger and better, with a terrific line-up of films and events, including Dinner and Movie with William Fain, not to mention a walking tour of Downtown LA with Dean Haglund and a pastry walk of local bakeries. We recently chatted with the festival’s founders, Josh Paget and Joel Karahadian about this year’s festival and some of their suggestions for must-see films and activities.
What was the response from last year like?
Josh: I was overwhelmed by the response we got last year. I think I was most surprised by the number of speakers and guests we had attend the festival. Not only for their event but they kept coming back because of just the nature of the events are engaging at every level.
Joel: Exactly, very few people stayed for just one thing. People really loved it. It was not overly technical or wonky because we’re not planners. Josh is a comedian and I am a musician, so we chose films and speakers that we like, I think that makes it more accessible to everyone.
What changes have you made to this year’s festival?
Joel: Well, the films. This year we had five times as many film submissions. Which means the quality is higher, the topics broader, and I think all around a bigger festival both in content and ideas.
Josh: And the follow up on the films as well. Last year the films generated an excitement about urbanism. So anticipating that again this year, we’ve partnered with a lot of speakers and organizations to come out and speak about what they are doing in Los Angeles.
What are some highlights of this year’s festival?
Josh: A top three? For me, I’m excited about The Friendly Ride. It’s a group bike ride co-hosted by the MidCityWest Neighborhood council. The council designed their own bicycle friendly streets proposal and they are pushing it through city planning. I think the bike ride is a fun event not often found at a film festival. But it is also a great exercise in urbanism. They’re working on these changes and you can see it first hand and help.
Joel: Do I get to pick the other two?
Joel: Trainsforming America. It’s a feature length documentary made by a young female director. She said one of her motivations to make it was basically to show her parents that using a train is something they can do. The film makes the whole rail system very accessible. Then the screening is followed by a presentation about the new master plan for Los Angeles Union Station by Debra Gerod who is the master planner on the project. So we will screen the movie, then the audience gets a sneak peek at the future of rail in Los Angeles. I think that will be an exciting night.
Josh: You want to do the last one?
Joel: Sure, I’d say The Urban Conga. It’s a group of what I am calling “architecture-activists.” Instead of artist-activist. They use architecture principles to reactivate urban spaces. They will be at the festival again this year re-activating the front of the theater. They have a lot of fun ways to explore topics of urbanism. If you’re coming to a screening, get there early to play around with some of their architecture-activism installations. They’re also doing a workshop on opening night. They’ve done this all over the country and they will show some videos and some how-to lessons. It should be a lot of fun.
FORM and Balcony Press will be hosting a pop-up bookstore at the festival on Sunday, November 9th from 5-9pm.
For a full list of events at the New Urbanism Film Festival, see www.newurbanismfilmfestival.com/schedule