MIT Urban Film Series: Fall 2013

Happy Labor Day, and welcome back to the new school year. We’ve finalized the line-up for our Fall 2013 MIT Urban Planning Film Series, listed below. As always, we’ve included some classics—including a 50th anniversary showing of Francesco Rosi’s HANDS OVER THE CITY to start us off—as well as some great new stuff, exploring renewable energy, gentrification, crime and the Mexican drug wars, and the promise and perils of international development. We continue our partnership with PBS/POV American Documentary to bring some special community screenings to the Boston area. And we’ve even included a special pre-Thanksgiving show of 2007’s crowd-pleaser, KING CORN.

(Note: click here to download the complete schedule as a nice pdf flyer. Please feel free to print, copy, distribute—all are welcome!)

  • Thurs 9/12: HANDS OVER THE CITY/LE MANI SULLA CITTA (1963) Rod Steiger stars as a scheming land developer in this blistering work of social realism from 1963. An expose of the politically driven real-estate speculation that devastated Naples’s civilian landscape, the film moves breathlessly from a cataclysmic building collapse to the backroom negotiations of civic leaders vying for power in a city council election, laying bare the inner workings of corruption with passion and outrage. Directed by Francesco Rosi. Winner of the Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival. 105 minutes; Italian with English subtitles. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.

    http://dusp.mit.edu/sites/all/files/styles/banner_image/public/bannerimages/event/hands_over_c.jpeg Rod Steiger in HANDS OVER THE CITY (1963)

  • Thur 9/26: 5 BROKEN CAMERAS (2011) This Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production presents a deeply-personal first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Filmed by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son Gibreel, the collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the story unfolds—structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras—we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank. Directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Winner, World Cinema/Directing, Sundance; Special Jury and Audience Award, IDFA; Nominated for Academy Award, Best Documentary Feature. 90 minutes; Hebrew and Arabic w/English subtitles. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thurs 10/10: CAPE SPIN! AN AMERICAN POWER STRUGGLE (2011) This tragicomic tale explores the surreal and fascinating battle over America’s largest clean energy project. When energy entrepreneur Jim Gordon first proposed putting 130 wind turbines in fabled Nantucket Sound, he had no idea that a firestorm would erupt, as the country’s first proposed offshore wind farm triggered a schism in this idyllic coastal region, pitting neighbor against neighbor and environmentalist against environmentalist. Revealing the root causes of their furor, the filmmakers enjoyed unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the key players on both sides of the controversy. The tale frames the battle over Nantucket Sound as a microcosm of America’s struggle towards energy sustainability. After 10 years, $70 million and 8,000 pages of analysis the Federal Government approved the wind farm project on April 28, 2010—but the controversy continues…. Directed by Robbie Gemmel and John Kirby. Official selection: Woodstock Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival; Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. 84 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thurs 10/17: BEAUBOURG (1977) The great Neo-Realist Roberto Rossellini’s beautiful and languid final film documents the opening of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, candidly presenting the public’s response to this major cultural phenomenon. Shot on the Pompidou Centre’s opening day in 1977, Rossellini hid dozens of microphones throughout the building to create a soundtrack composed of the public’s reactions to this cultural phenomenon—or in the filmmakers own words, “A film without comments or music.” As the Italian director here turns his inimitable eye upon “Beaubourg” in a vision of critical skepticism, we are transported back to experience this highly influential cultural center at its nascence. Directed by Roberto Rossellini. 55 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.

    http://dusp.mit.edu/sites/all/files/styles/banner_image/public/bannerimages/event/beaubourg.jpg Filming BEAUBOURG (1977)

  • Thurs 10/24: GOOD FORTUNE (2010) A provocative exploration of how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. In Kenya’s rural countryside, Jackson’s farm is being flooded by an American investor who hopes to alleviate poverty by creating a multimillion-dollar rice farm. Across the country in Nairobi, Silva’s home and business in Africa’s largest shantytown are being demolished as part of a U.N. slum-upgrading project. The gripping stories of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development present a unique opportunity see foreign aid through eyes of the people it is intended to help. Directed by Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine; presented in collaboration with the award-winning documentary series POV (www.pbs.org/pov). Winner: Witness Award, Silverdocs Film Festival; official selection: IDFA Festival; Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. 90 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thur 11/7: SHIFT CHANGE: PUTTING DEMOCRACY TO WORK (2013) With the long decline in US manufacturing and today’s economic crisis, millions have been thrown out of work, and many are losing their homes. The usual economic solutions are not working, so some citizens and public officials are ready to think outside of the box, to reinvent our failing economy in order to restore long term community stability and a more egalitarian way of life. SHIFT CHANGE tells the little known stories of employee-owned businesses that respond to this challenge, competing successfully in today’s economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces. Directed by Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin. Co-sponsored by New Economy@MIT. 60 minutes. 6pm (note different time), MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thurs 11/14: MISSION HILL & THE MIRACLE OF BOSTON (1978) Once a predominantly Irish neighborhood of houses, churches, and small stores, after World War II Boston’s Mission Hill began to change: thousands of units of public housing were built—and allowed to decay there; nearby hospitals expanded, displacing people from their homes; developers and speculators bought and sold property and built twenty-story apartment buildings. A new, poor population and an affluent professional population arrived to compete for parts of the old neighborhood. Through the voices of the people of Mission Hill, the film tells the story of urban renewal, racial conflict, and the struggle of a neighborhood to survive through changing times. Directed by Richard Broadman; special award winner, Boston Society of Film Critics, 1984. 60 minutes. Special guests: Karilyn Crockett, MLK Visiting Scholar, MIT; John Grady, Professor of Sociology, Wheaton College (producer). 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thurs 11/21: KING CORN (2007) Special Thanksgiving feature. A feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In the film, two friends move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm. Directed by Aaron Woolf; written and featuring Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, with a special appearance by Michael Pollan. Winner: George Foster Peabody Award; Official selection: SXSW; Big Sky Documentary Film Festival; Chicago International Documentary Film Festival. 88 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.
  • Thurs 12/12: MY BROOKLYN (2012) Billed as “the real story behind the takeover of America’s hippest city,” the film follows director Kelly Anderson’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn “gentrifier” seeking to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood along lines of race and class. Anderson moves to Brooklyn in 1988, lured by cheap rents and bohemian culture, but by the election of Michael Bloomberg in 2001 a massive speculative real estate boom is rapidly altering the neighborhood. She watches as an explosion of luxury housing and chain store development spurs bitter conflict over who has a right to live in the city and to determine its future. While some people view these development patterns as ultimately revitalizing the city, to others, they are erasing the eclectic urban fabric, economic and racial diversity, creative alternative culture, and unique local economies that drew them to Brooklyn in the first place. No less than the city’s soul is at stake. A film by Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean. 85 minutes. 7pm, MIT Room 3–133.

    http://dusp.mit.edu/sites/all/files/styles/banner_image/public/bannerimages/event/my_brooklyn.jpg MY BROOKLYN (2012)

As always, all films open to the general public, free, first-come/first-served; most shows to include previews, shorts, and/or additional video ephemera. Special thanks to MIT’s Rotch Library for help tracking down titles and rights and MIT A/V Services for troubleshooting the tech with us. Times and locations subject to change; please check prior to coming. For more information, contact eglenn@mit.edu.