MIT Urban Film Series: Fall 2012

Now that the students are back at MIT, we’ve started up our Fall 2012 Urban Planning Film Series. Most of the films in this semester’s lineup came out in the past few years, but we’ll be ending with a classic that never goes out of style. Special thanks to our wonderful MIT Rotch Library for help tracking down titles and securing rights. Here’s what we’ll be watching:

  • THE PARKING LOT MOVIE (2010): A documentary on the lives of parking lot attendants who work at The Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. Special guest: Professor Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning. Directed by Meghan Eckman. Thur 9/13, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • DARK DAYS (2000): Independent filmmaker Marc Singer explores the underground world inhabited by residents of New York’s underground tunnels. Music by DJ Shadow. Thur 9/20, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • THE LAST TRAIN HOME (2009): Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as millions of city-dweller attempt to return to their rural homes by train for Chinese New Year. Special guest: Professor Emeritus Tunney Lee, MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning. Co-sponsored by the MIT China Urban Development Group. Directed by Lixin Fan. Wed 9/26, 6pm, MIT Room 7-429
  • THE CITY DARK (2011): A documentary about light pollution and the disappearing night; “a search for night on a planet that never sleeps.” Special guest: Susanne Seitinger, City Innovations Manager, Philips Color Kinetics. Co-sponsored by the PBS “POV” Community Network. Directed by Ian Cheney. Thur 10/4, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • LAND OF OPPORTUNITY (2010): Juxtaposing the perspectives of protagonists from different walks of life, this project reveals how the story of post-Katrina New Orleans is also the story of urban America. Special guest: Karl Seidman, MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning, with a live video-chat with Director Luisa Dantas following the film. Wed 10/10, 6pm, MIT Room 7-429
  • THE AGE OF STUPID (2009): A man living in the devastated future of 2055 looks back at footage from our time and asks, “why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?” Directed by Franny Armstrong. Thur 10/18, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES (2006): Follows Edward Burtynsky through China as he documents the evidence and effects of a massive industrial revolution through stunningly beautiful large-scale photographs of quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams. Co-sponsored by the MIT China Urban Development Group. Directed by Jennifer Baichwal. Wed 10/24, 6pm, MIT Room 7-429
  • FOOD-AND-FARMING DOUBLE FEATURE: In honor of Thanksgiving we’ll be screening two films related to the food we eat and the people who grow it. Thur 11/15, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133:
    • TRUCK FARM (2011) tells the story of a new generation of quirky urban farmers in New York City. Directed by Ian Cheney.
    • DIRT! The Movie (2009) investigates the miraculous substance we all take for granted, and asks, “How can humans reconnect to dirt?” Narrated by Jaimie Lee Curtis, inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth; directed by Gene Rosow (40 minute version).
  • STREET FIGHT (2005): Chronicles the bare-knuckles race for Mayor of Newark, N.J. between Cory Booker, a 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law School grad, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics. Directed by Marshall Curry. Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary (2005). Special guest: Professor Phil Thompson, MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning. Thur 11/29, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH (2011): Tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. Directed by Chad Freidrichs. Co-sponsored by the Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC–Boston), the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), and the Mel King Institute for Community Building (MKI). Thur 12/6, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133
  • PLAY TIME (1967): “With every inch of its superwide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.” Directed by Jacques Tati. Thur 12/13, 6pm, MIT Room 3-133

See individual links above for more about each showing, including film descriptions and info about special guests. Be sure to check back here for changes and updates, as well as reviews as we roll the films out.

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