We want better. Better cities, towns and neighborhoods. So we launched a film festival.
Better Cities Film Festival collects, curates and presents the very best films on the theme of making better cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
We honor the top films and filmmakers with awards. (And applause!) And we screen those films to a vast audience around the world through our flagship event (a four-day film festival), and through satellite screening events in a growing number of host cities.
Better Cities Film Festival was originally founded by Joshua Paget in 2013 as the New Urbanism Film Festival. Discussions and decisions about urban planning and design are too often limited to the university classroom or city council chambers. The festival was launched with a vision to move that conversation onto the silver screen and into the streets, engaging the broader community in the vital work of placemaking and neighborhood revitalization.
During its five-year run in Los Angeles, the festival received over 700 submissions from all over the world, and screened over 200 films, pairing them with experts who helped lead post-film discussions about the local built environment.
In its second year, by popular demand, the festival took an unexpected turn: community groups and organizations wanted to use the power of film to help revitalize and improve their hometowns. It was time to “take the show on the road.” We instituted a way for other cities and towns to host local screenings. In some cases, they wanted to screen the “best of the fest” - a reel of the top award-winning festival films. In other cases, by special request, we dug through our vast archives and curated custom playlists of films especially relevant to the current issues facing a particular host city.
By 2018, the festival had enjoyed a five-year run in Los Angeles, and sold-out screenings in over 30 cities around the world, ranging from international hotspots like Shen Zhen and Milan, to smaller domestic cities and towns like Laredo and Oxnard.
In 2019, First+Main Films acquired the the New Urbanism Film Festival, with the goal of expanding it to more cities and more audiences. Founder Josh Paget remains as the festival director and driving create force. Together we've rechristened it Better Cities Film Festival.
It’s all about inspiring more people to create better places. And it’s coming soon to your hometown. Invite us.
We give awards for the best short film in each of these categories
-Street Art / Public Art
This festival attracts filmmakers, artists, street artists, architects, urban planners, political leaders, bicycle advocates, faith-based community leaders, and fans of the urban environment. Here's a list of some of our past guest speakers.
Melissa Balmer, California Bike Coalition
Tafarai Bayne, chief strategist for CicLAvia
Howard Blackson, president California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism
Andy Boenau, host of Urbanism Speakeasy,
Ann Bridges, painter
Madeline Brozen, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies
Chris Bruntlett, director, Vancouver Cycle Chic
Melissa Bruntlett, director, Modacity
Tamika Butler, executive director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Diego Cardoso, L.A. Planning Commission, Director of Planning at LA METRO
Jenna Chandler, editor of CurbedLA
Caroline Cicero, professor of urban planning at USC
Rick Cole, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Budget & Innovation,
Dao Doan, award winning urban designer
Craig Detweiler, PhD professor of communication at Pepperdine University
Chris Elisara, executive director, Center for Environmental Leadership
Scott Epstein, chair Mid City West Community Council
William Fain, architect and urban planner, partner Johnson Fain,
Dawn Finley, co-founder, Feminist Library On Wheels
Nat Gale, LA Great Streets Program Director, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti
Debra Gerod, Partner, Gruen Associates, President American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter
Dean Haglund, actor, the X-files,
Jose Huizar, councilmember, Los Angeles City Council, CD14
Eric Jacobsen, author, Sidewalks in the Kingdom and The Space Between
Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Academy Award nominated director The Garden
Joe Linton, editor of StreetsblogLA
Daniel Lovering, director Through the Place
Colin Marhsal, host of Notebook on Cities and Culture
Gerhard Mayer, architect & author, Arquitectonica
Michael McDonald, architect Studio MMD
Kellie Morris, author, We All Ride Bikes
Bob Nesson, director, Power to the Pedals
Taylor Nichols, Mid City West Communit Council Transportation committee co-chair
Moncho1929, street artist
Neal Payton, West Coast director of Torti Gallas Partners,
Max Podemski, planning director Pacoima Beautiful
Stefanos Polyzoides, architect & urban planner MoulePolyzoides, founder of Congress of the New Urbanism
Peter Quintanilla, Prince’s Foundation for Building Community
Thomas Rigler, producer of the KCET series CITYWALK
Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation
Rebecca Autumn Sansom, director, Trainsforming America
Meghan Sahli-Wells, Mayor of Culver City, co-founder of the Culver City Bike Coalition
Scott Schultz, creator, BUSted True tales from people who ride the bus in LA
Kyle Sears, New Parish Collective
Maria Sipin, co-host of Women Talk Bikes
Ryan Swanson, founder The Urban Conga
Jeffrey Tumlin, urban designer, Nelson Nygard
J. Keith Van Straaten, host, Beat the Geeks,
Nona Varnado, executive director, Bicycle Culture Institute
Valerie Watson, director of LADOT Vision Zero
Will Wright, AIA-LA honorary, Government affairs liaison
Dan Zack, planner, City of Fresno
Cash awards in varying amounts.
Gifts from our sponsors and media partners
Free submissions for life
All Access Pass to BCFF2021