Film challenges thinking on cities

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 08:28 am

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A 77-minute documentary on cities will have Okotoks residents thinking differently about how their town could impact their lives, and that’s exactly what Town officials are hoping for.

The Town of Okotoks is offering a free screening of the 2013 documentary The Human Scale at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre on June 12 at 7 p.m.

The film explores the development of urban centres and how they impact human nature. It won a series of awards around the world last year including Best Feature Documentary in Croatia.

Rick Quail, Town of Okotoks municipal manager, said the documentary is a great educational tool for Town employees and Okotoks residents now that the Town is in the process of annexing land to prepare for the potential growth of 85,000 people over the next 60 years.

“The fascinating thing about this whole focus is that it explores urban development and human settlement and social interaction and communities of the future and citizens’ needs and building communities,” said Quail. “There are a number of great design-related ideas around building interactive caring communities and so I really wanted to encourage citizens to come out for this free viewing.”

The idea to bring The Human Scale to a public audience came after Quail viewed the documentary at the Calgary International Film Festival last year.

The documentary, created by Denmark-born filmmaker Andreas Dalsgaard, explores the functions of existing cities and looks at how urban centres can be built in a way that takes into account the human need for inclusion and intimacy.

According to the documentary, half of the world’s population live in urban centres - a number expected to reach 80 per cent by 2050.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to look at some very interesting approaches that other communities have done – large scale mega cities, smaller communities and communities faced with horrific challenges,” Quail said. “It’s a really important starting measure to see what leading practices are in the world.

“We owe it to future generations to build nothing less than a world-class community.”

Allan Boss, team leader for cultural and historical services, said the documentary is a must-see for residents.

“It talks about growth and healthy communities and looking at growth from different perspectives, looking at different models coming out of Europe and around the world,” he said.

“Looking at how a community grows is vital to this community at this point in time. We have a tabula rasa (blank slate) that is before us and we have a chance to do it right.

“It’s time to start thinking about it and getting actively involved and for the community to decide what this community should look like. This film is a way to start that process.”

Boss organizes a film series at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre each year, but said documentaries have yet to be featured.

“We’ve been programming films thematically and documentary films fall into that quite nicely,” he said.

“It’s likely we will look into more films in that genre.”

Boss said the concession will be open during the screening of The Human Scale.

In addition to a public viewing, Quail said the film will be viewed by town employees as they contemplate the future of Okotoks.

“There’s a real focus on community vision in the next year,” he said.

“We are going to have a special lunch-and-learn for town employees to view this. We all collectively must have a hand in building a community in Okotoks for the next stage of growth.”

The Human Scale will be showing at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks on June 12 at 7 p.m.


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