Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

May 05 - May 11

(Matt Tyrnauer, US, 2017, 92 min)

"A wrecking ball of a wakeup call." – audience member

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Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, directed by journalist and documentarian Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor), captures the intense battle between activist Jane Jacobs and the Trumpian “master builder” of New York, Robert Moses. In the years after World War II, Moses transformed the city by bulldozing its poorest sections and erecting in their place miles of concrete-slab housing and superhighways. Against this dehumanized modernist view, Jacobs published her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in 1961, which condemned the modern planners’ and architects reconfiguration of cities and argued for an approach to urban planning which prioritizes the people who live in the cities, not the cars driving through it. More than simply capturing this urban planning showdown, Citizen Jane invites you to sink into Jacobs’s philosophy of cities and think about how the things we take for granted (like sidewalks and parks) are the very things that make cities magical. 

Today, as urbanization grows at an unprecedented scale and speed globally, Jacobs’s prescient text offers many clues to the large array of urban issues we are facing and challenges us to learn from the mistakes that were made by planners like Moses. Above all, the film asks its audience to reexamine the city of today through the lens of one of its greatest champions.

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