Annual film festival explores housing issues

NANAIMO - Annual Urban Issues Film Festival focuses on housing regeneration projects.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is one of the films attendees can watch during the 10th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival.

Residents interested in learning more about contemporary housing issues that could affect their city can gain insight during the 10th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival.

The festival, held at Vancouver Island University, focuses on housing regeneration.

Don Alexander, film festival co-founder and a VIU geography professor, said there is a mix of short and long films. One film is 80 minutes and examines a failed social housing project in St. Louis.

“Some of the films provoke quite a lot of discussion,” said Alexander. “Often people link the issues in our community to what they see, linking it to burning issues in the Nanaimo community.”

After each film screening there is a facilitated discussion.

“People really enjoy the discussion and are quite passionate,” said Alexander.

The festival was created 10 years ago.

“We have a lot of people who are loyalists and come every year,” said Alexander.

Alexander and his co-founder Pam Shaw, director of the university’s master of community planning program, were inspired by a city public consultation process about urban issues. Alexander said they felt it would make the issue more tangible if people could watch films relating to issues facing Nanaimo.

“It makes it more visual and real for people,” said Alexander.

The university can offer free attendance thanks to sponsorship by the Planning Institute of B.C. North Island Chapter, the university’s geography department, the Geography Students’ Union and the master of community planning program. Alexander said it’s also thanks to volunteers.

The festival includes a speakers’ panel featuring Ting Pan, sustainability coordinator for the Regional District of Nanaimo who will discuss green buildings and Dave Witty, the university’s vice-president, academic.

The film festival is Friday (Nov. 6) from 3-9 p.m. in building 356, Room 109 of the Nanaimo campus. Attendance is free, but people must pre-register by going to and typing 10th Annual Urban Issues Film Festival under the search function.

Alexander said there is currently a waiting list but people said people should still register if they want to attend because spaces may open up.

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