The historic feud between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses is hitting the silver screen in “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City”, a fairly new feature-length documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer and produced by Robert Hammond (co-founder and executive director of NYC's Friends of the High Line). Following premieres at DOC NYC and the Toronto International Film Festival last year, “Citizen Jane” will be released in theaters and on demand in the U.S. on April 21.
Set in the 1950s and '60s in New York City, the film centers around Jane Jacobs' fight against Robert Moses' ruthless urban “renewal” schemes that targeted NYC's “slums” and its vital communities — a situation that many cities worldwide still face today. It also sheds light on European modernist ideals of architecture and urban design finding its place in the U.S., according to one film review.
“We realized that no one had done a film about Jane Jacobs,” Producer Robert Hammond said in a statement. “She came up with her own common sense solution on how cities worked. But it’s not just Jane’s solutions for New York, it’s about people all over the world coming up with their own solutions, looking around their own cities, figuring out how we’re going to solve the issues, from the bottom up.”
Especially to a broader audience, the film wants to bring attention back to a “somewhat forgotten history” in the present day when Jacobs' ideas are as important as ever, Director Matt Tyrnauer stated. “Set in the context of the world today, it’s as much a warning as it is a celebration.” So far, the documentary has received generally positive reviews (here and here).
Screenings will take place at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center in New York on April 21 and the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles on April 28. Check out the trailer below, and find the film's other screenings here.