Quito, Ecuador — Next City is thrilled to celebrate the centenary of the seminal urban thinker, journalist and activist Jane Jacobs with a preview screening of the film, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City on October 19, 2016, at the United Nations Habitat III convening. The 90-minute film will begin at 4 p.m. at the Next City World Stage. It will be followed by a public conversation between Ford Foundation Senior Vice President for Equitable Development Jerry Maldonado and Citizen Jane director and producer Matt Tyrnauer. (See full World Stage schedule here.)
With more than 40,000 urban advocates in attendance, Habitat III is a fitting venue for the one-night-only preview of a film about a champion for cities who understood the unique power of place decades before her contemporaries. “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody,” Jacobs wrote in her influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. That belief in the opportunity cities hold to foster more equitable, inclusive systems guides many of the recommendations included in the New Urban Agenda policy document that UN-HABIT Executive Director Joan Clos expects to lead to adoption before leaving Quito.
“It’s amazing to be having a preview screening of this film at Habitat III. While the movie explores passages from our urban past in the U.S., it is really about our urban future, exploring sets of ideas from a time when huge decisions were being made about cities that have had long-lasting consequences. We are at another such time today, with urbanization happening at an unprecedented scale and pace,” said Tyrnauer.
Citizen Jane will be screened on the heels of another moving tribute to Jacobs. On the first day of Habitat III, the 2016 Jane Jacobs medal — honoring “exceptional individuals whose work puts Jacobsean principles into action” — was awarded to Clos and Mumbai-based architect and activist P.K. Das. To mark the 100th anniversary of Jacobs’ birth and her influence on cities around the globe, award co-presenters Municipal Arts Society of New York and the Rockefeller Foundation opened the medal to international nominees for the first time.
Citizen Jane: Battle For The City is the story of Jacobs’ fight against road projects that would have destroyed working-class neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx, and decimated Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park.
“I hope that the attendees of Habitat III will enjoy seeing the material we have gathered for the film — some of the archival material has never been seen before,” said Tyrnauer. “The ideas put forth by Jacobs are as relevant today as they were in 1961, and if some are not relevant, it’s perhaps equally interesting to have discussions about how and why things have changed.”
The documentary was produced by Tyrmauer and Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, with Altimeter Films.