Thursday, September 20, 2007


Radiant City

Radiant City The upcoming SF Doc Fest (Sep. 28 - Oct. 10 at the Roxie Theatre) brings us a compelling "documentary" called "Radiant City" (Canada 2006, 93 min.). It takes a closer look at the chilling phenomenon: urban sprawl in North America.

The film focuses on daily routines of the Moss family, a married couple with two cars, two kids (and two dogs?) in suburbia Canada to reflect devastating effects of suburbia living in North America. Through thought provoking interviews with scholars, architects, social workers, residents, and using alarming statistics, the film pleas to stop these suburban developments that are harmful to our environment, to our communities, to our planet, and to the human race.

Suburbia living is indeed a process of going isolation. People drive out from their garages alone, get stuck in traffic alone in a car, walk in a cubical office alone, and drive home straight back into a garage alone. No human contact necessary day after day, and no one on the streets in a subdivision. Therefore, people need bigger and bigger house to jail themselves. The average living space in North America was 800 square foot per person in 1950. By 2000, it increased to 2,266 square foot per person.

I am glad that I figured this terrible trend earlier myself and changed my life the other way around. I moved out a four bedroom two car garage house in suburbia, and moved in a three bedroom apartment in the city. Couple years later, I went one step further. Last year, I moved to a smaller one bedroom apartment. It's definitely a positive change for me and I will never live in a 2300 plus square foot house by myself again. I need to live.

The film is not only provocative, and also quite funny. However, the problem I have with the film is the so-called "twist" at the end, which I don't know how to discuss it without giving away the film. I believe it discredits the excellent points the film are making earlier, because it gives the audience an impression that those facts and statistics might not be true after all.

Everybody should come up their own conclusions about this "twist" by watching the film themselves. Either way, it's an engaging film, and there will have plenty to laugh, think, and talk about after the film.

The film is part of the the 6th SF Doc Fest (Sep. 28 - Oct. 10 at the Roxie Theatre), which will show 45 films from eight countries. The festival opens with the interesting "What Would Jesus Buy?" (USA 2007, 90 min.) and close with the fascinating "Audience of One."

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