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// Films // Radiant City

National Film Board

Radiant City

Gary Burns & Jim Brown / Canada / 2006 / 86 ' / English

Credits

Jonathan Baltrusaitis
Gary Burns & Jim Brown
Patrick McLaughlin
Shirley Vercruysse & Bonnie Thompson

Links & Reviews

Awards & Festivals

2008, Winner, Genie Awards, Toronto, Best Documentary
2006, Winner, International Film Festival, Vancouver, Special Jury Prize

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In Production

A doc that examines the nature of modern suburbia

Synopsis

Gary Burns, Canada's king of surreal comedy, joins journalist Jim Brown on an outing to the suburbs. Venturing into territory both familiar and foreign, they turn the documentary genre inside out, crafting a vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age.

Urban sprawl is eating the planet. Across the continent the landscape is being levelled - blasted clean of distinctive features and overlaid with zombie monoculture. Politicians call it growth. Developers call it business. The Moss family call it home.

While Evan Moss zones out in commuter traffic, Ann boils over in her dream kitchen and the kids play sinister games amidst the fresh foundations of monster houses.

A chorus of cultural prophets provide insight on the spectacle. James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere, rails against the brutalizing aesthetic of strip malls. Philosopher Joseph Heath fears the soul-eating suburbs but admits they offer good value for money. And urban planner Beverly Sandalack dares to ask, Why can't we walk anywhere anymore?

Burns and Brown rummage through a toybox of cultural references, from Jane Jacobs to The Sopranos, to create a provocative reflection on why we live the way we do. Riffing off sitcoms and reality TV, they play fast and loose with a range of cinematic devices to consider what happens when cities get sick and mutate.

 

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