VIU geography professor Don Alexander has been organizing the Urban Issues Film Festival for the past 12 years. (Photo courtesy Vancouver Island University)

VIU’s Urban Issues Film Festival returns for its 12th year

Free festival will explore ‘tactical urbanism’ and ‘the creative city’

Don Alexander says Nanaimo residents feel there are a lot of urban issues that need to be discussed and they welcome the opportunity to talk about them and hear from different points of view.

The Vancouver Island University geography professor said it’s that concerned citizenry that has been gathering for the past 12 years to indulge their interests at the university’s Urban Issues Film Festival.

Alexander originally organized the exhibition as a one-off event to coincide with a city planning conference. He said the film festival is now sponsored by and draws attendance from the Planning Institute of B.C. Vancouver Island North chapter, VIU geography department, Geographic Students’ Union, and master of community planning Students’ Association. He said about half of all attendees are members of the public and he has a mailing list of 178 people.

The Urban Issues Film Festival is taking place at VIU Building 356, Room 109 on Friday, Nov. 10.

“There’s a lot of freedom each year to pick a theme that tickles our fancy,” Alexander said.

The themes for this year’s festival are “tactical urbanism” and “the creative city.” Alexander describes tactical urbanism as the idea that “sometimes citizens don’t want to go through all the bureaucracy to get changes made in the urban environment and so they will sort of take direct action,” He said this might include citizens painting a crosswalk where one is needed. “The creative city” covers art in public spaces and the role of art as a tool of community development.

The festival will feature two guest speakers in these areas. Laura Lee Coles, arts researcher and current artist-in-residence at Vancouver’s Aberthau Mansion, will speak about public art while local sustainable food activist Michael Geselbracht will discuss urban agriculture.

The free festival will feature a combination of films of various lengths from places like Arkansas, Winnipeg, San Diego and North Carolina. This year there will be a Vancouver Island film about a design exercise that involved the creation of Tofino’s Kwistis Visitor Centre, formerly known as the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre.

The day will conclude with a showing of the recent documentary Citizen Jane, which tells the story of the efforts of American-Canadian writer and urban planning critic Jane Jacobs to prevent the construction of an expressway that would have cut through New York City’s Greenwich Village neighbourhood in the 1960s.

WHAT’S ON … The 12th annual Urban Issues Film Festival is taking place at Vancouver Island University Building 356, Room 109 on Friday, Nov. 10 from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The event is free and those attending are asked to register in advance by emailing don.alexander@viu.ca in order for organizers to prepare enough food and drink.



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