Real Utopias Film Program

    May 9–December 12, 2019

    May 9–December 12, 2019

    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami, and MDC's Tower Theater

    Real Utopias Film Program

    The film program Real Utopias examines past and current experiments in our collective search for freedom, equality, and democracy. The series’ documentaries and film essays investigate alternative ways in which urban living has been, and can be, designed, from a call to non-violence (Everyday Rebellion: “democracy is like love, you have to make it”) to architects’ futuristic visions (Paolo Soleri: Citizen of the Planet and Jacque Fresco in Future My Love) to utopian urban experiments of the past (The Experimental City; Soul City, USA; New Town Utopia; Brasilia: Life After Design) to a rare look at a post-capitalist, modern-day utopian Europe (Paths Through Utopia). Real Utopias is part of the cross-disciplinary, cutting-edge programming of A City of the People; the screenings of Real Utopias discuss art’s capacity to reimagine civic life.

    Real Utopias is curated by Konstantia Kontaxis, Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Center for Communication, Culture and Change at the University of Miami School of Communication. Real Utopias is part of the series A City of the People, organized by MOAD and curated by Rina Carvajal, Executive Director and Chief Curator. It is made possible by the generous support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

    Screenings take place at MDC’s Tower Theater and at the Bill Cosford Cinema at the University of Miami. The full schedule of screenings is as follows:


    May 9, 2019, 6:00 PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    The Experimental City (2017), 96 minutes, Director: Chad Friedrichs

    The Experimental City is a documentary about the Minnesota Experimental City project, a futuristic attempt to solve urban problems by creating a full-size city from scratch in the isolated woods of northern Minnesota. At the heart of the story is renowned scientist, inventor, and comic-strip author, Athelstan Spilhaus, who dreams of a new kind of planned city—a truly experimental city that continuously changes to find workable urban solutions. This new city would employ the newest technologies in communications, transport, pollution control, energy supply—even large-scale domed enclosure—in an attempt to create more livable cities for the twenty-first century. It was a compelling vision, with powerful backers, hundreds of experts, and its own state agency. But not everyone fell in line with this newfangled vision for the future.


    June 6, 2019, 6:00 PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    Soul City, USA (2016), 20 minutes, Directors: Monica Berra, SheRea DelSol, and Gini Richards

    Soul City is a documentary short that tells the story of a group of civil rights activists and city slickers who attempt to build a multiracial utopia in the heart of Klan Country, North Carolina, in the 1970s. Their pioneering efforts to jumpstart this black-owned, black-built town run up against tenacious enemies that still face idealists and dreamers today: ingrained racism, public skepticism, and unwillingness on the part of the government to think outside the box to solve social problems. As this group of dreamers tries to bring together unlikely allies to support black power and economic development, they are forced to balance their soaring idealism with the hostile reality of the times.

    Paolo Soleri: Citizen of the Planet (2016), 50 minutes, Directed by Geoffrey Madeja

    Paolo Soleri: architect, philosopher, and a citizen of the planet. Fans have gone as far as to compare him to da Vinci and Gandhi, but critics believed him to be an ego-driven eccentric with a failed experiment out in the desert. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Soleri's utopian vision was steadfast: urban sprawl is destroying the planet and the answer is to build mega-structure cities a hundred times the size of the Empire State Building. This film explores the artist, the dreamer, the philosopher, the architect Paolo Soleri as he tried to build his new world filled with futuristic ideas and controversy.


    July 11, 2019, 6:00 PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    Paths Through Utopias (2011), 112 minutes, Directed by Isabelle Fremeaux, John Jordan, and Kypros Kyprianou

    Blurring the fluid boundaries between present and future, documentary and fiction, Paths Through Utopias is a feature-length utopian road movie exploring a post-capitalist Europe. Shot during a seven-month journey in 2008, visiting ten utopian experiments—from the direct-action Climate Camp set up illegally beside Heathrow airport to a hamlet squatted by French art punks, from occupied self-managed Serbian factories to a free-love commune in an ex Stasi base—this magic-realist travelogue transports us to a parallel universe where money is worthless and private property has been abolished.


    August 6, 2019, 7:00 PM
    MDC’s Tower Theater
    Brasília: Life After Design (2017), 88 minutes, Directed by Bart Simpson

    Located 2000 kilometers from the Amazon and eighteen hours from Rio, the city of Brasília—the capital of Brazil—is a mythical place: a concrete utopia born out of the desert. In 1956 at the rebirth of Brazilian democracy, visionary architect Oscar Niemeyer and urbanist Lúcio Costa invented an urban plan and structures that would attempt to micromanage the daily activity of human life. The unabashed goal was to create the space that would birth “the new Brazilian citizen.” Now the stark beauty of the city acts as a backdrop to isolation, changing values, and the dynamic power and politics of today’s Brazil. The haunting ambience of Niemeyer and Costa’s dream echoes through the lives of a range of characters, each trying to make their mark in the city of today: Sergio, the stalwart urbanist who defends the city plan but knows it must adapt; Helize, studying to become a federal civil servant—the dream of so many Brazilian students—and Willians, a street vendor by day, who tries to find meaningful connection in a city built to divide. Brasília: Life After Design takes us to a city rarely seen by the international viewer: what is it like to live in someone else’s idea?


    September 10, 2019, 7:00 PM
    MDC’s Tower Theater
    Nueva Venecia (2016), 80 minutes, Directed by Emiliano Mazza De Luca

    The documentary feature Nueva Venecia portrays the inhabitants of a small village in the Santa Marta marsh in Colombia, who live on the water and make a living by fishing. Their lives changed drastically on November 22, 2000, when a paramilitary group slaughtered thirty-seven people and forced the other villagers to move out. In spite of the horror and the possibility of further acts of violence, the community eventually returned, choosing to face the hazards of new assaults rather than quit their way of life. Things did change, however, as fishing-boat memorials and ceremonies to honor the dead have become familiar, as have constant pleas to the authorities for justice. Something else keeps people together: soccer, played again on the field built on stilts, long hidden under water. Sport provides the only hope for a way out for many of the local youngsters, who dream of both social and economic improvement, and of being discovered by some scout or club agent to become Colombian soccer stars.


    October 10, 2019, 6:00 PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    In the Park (1962), 14 minutes, Directed by Orlando Jiménez-Leal

    In the Park, is a trip to the past. The year is 1962. The subject, a Sunday day in Bay Front Park, Miami, when the world was still innocent. The hidden camera, the free cinema, allows us to observe from a distance, to be voyeurs without being discovered. We see young and old in a sweet-and-sour situation, which gives the viewer a strange nostalgic feeling.


    New Town Utopia (2017), 80 minutes, Directed by Christopher Ian Smith

    A journey of memory, place, and performance, New Town Utopia is a documentary feature about utopian dreams and concrete realities—the challenging, funny, and sometimes tragic story of the British new town of Basildon, Essex. Facing austerity, adversity and personal battles the artists, musicians, and poets of Basildon are individuals driven by their creative spirit to improve their community through art, poetry, music, and some rather angry puppets. New Town Utopia features Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent (Iris, Topsy-Turvy, Moulin Rouge) as the voice of Lewis Silkin MP.


    November 14, 2019, 6:00 PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    Everyday Rebellion (2013), 118 minutes, Directed by Arash T. Riahi, Arman T. Riahi

    Everyday Rebellion is a cross-media documentary about creative forms of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience acted out every day by passionate people from Spain, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, USA, UK, and Serbia. Their methods are inventive, funny, and sometimes even aggressive. And the activists who use them believe that creative nonviolent protest will win over violent protest—and they are right. Nonviolence has scientifically been proven to be more effective and successful than violent protest. And the users of nonviolence are feared because they are rapidly changing the world and challenging dictatorships, as well as global corporations. Everyday Rebellion wants to give voice to all those who decide not to use violence to try changing a violent system. Because, as Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”


    December 12, 2019, 6:00PM
    Bill Cosford Cinema, University of Miami
    Future My Love (2013), 97 minutes, Directed by Maja Borg

    Future My Love is a unique love story challenging our collective and personal utopias in search of freedom. At the brink of losing the idealistic love of her life, filmmaker Maja Borg takes us on a poetic road trip through the financial collapse, exploring a radically different economic and social model proposed by ninety-five-year-old futurist Jacque Fresco. How much freedom are we prepared to give to the ones we love? And how much responsibility are we ready to take for our society? Carefully weaving a texture of archival footage, black-and-white Super 8 film, and color HD, Borg poignantly depicts the universal struggle between our heads and hearts in times of big change.