MIT Urban Film Series: Spring 2013

It’s February, Groundhog Day is behind us, New England in hunkering down for a REALLY BIG STORM, and here at UrbanFilm we’re putting the finishing touches on our MIT Spring 2013 Urban Planning Film Series.

This semester, we’re pleased to be able to feature a couple fiction titles, in addition to our usual lineup of the best new documentaries on urban and related issues. We’ll continue our tradition of welcoming film-makers, urban scholars, and local planners, activists, and organizers to attend and offer commentary on the films, thereby building community as we share these films, and expect to partner with PBS/POV American Documentary on a few special events as well. The complete schedule should be up here within a week or two, but for now we wanted to at least tell you what’s up for the start of the series:

  • Thurs 2/21: 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 graduate, and Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent and undisputed champion of New Jersey politics. Directed by Marshall Curry. Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary (2005). (Last semester we tried to screen this one, only to be foiled by a rare blackout that hit the MIT campus back in November; hope for better luck this time.) 83 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 66–110

  • Thurs 2/28: NIGHT ON EARTH (1991) For this special fiction feature, we’ll travel around the globe with Jim Jarmusch: five cities, five taxicabs, a mad-cap collection of strangers in the night. For this [celebr|explor]ation of everything that makes cities eternal, unique, and endlessly fascinating, Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for a quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and languages. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films. 128 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133

  • Thurs 3/7: THE WORLD OF BUCKMINSTER FULLER (1974) Architect, engineer, geometer, cartographer, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome and the dymaxion car, and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time, Fuller was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world’s problems. (It’s safe to say that Bucky Fuller was one of the main reasons I got into planning in the first place; his 1981 book, Critical Path gave me the optimism to imagine that we humans could actually plan for a better world…). For more than five decades he developed pioneering solutions reflecting his commitment to the potential of innovative design to “do more with less” and thereby improve human lives. Now more relevant than ever, this film captures Fuller’s ideas and thinking, told in his own words. 80 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 66–110

  • Wed 3/13: note change of day DETROPIA (2012) Detroit’s story encapsulates the iconic narrative of America over the last century—the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos.

    With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. Detroit’s soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future. “The most moving documentary I have seen in years.”—David Denby, The New Yorker. Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. 86 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 66–110

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