The New Urbanism Film Festival (NUFF), which screens short and feature length films on the topic of the built environment, will host its first screening in San Antonio on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Alamo Beer Company from 6:30-9 p.m.

Hosted by the San Antonio Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE), the event aims to create a conversation among San Antonians regarding the future development of the city.

CNU is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design. The organization works to advocate design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment.

“We just passed the SA Tomorrow plan, (which focuses on how) the city will face new residents by the year 2040,” said CNU-San Antonio Co-Chair Sarah Esserlieu, explaining how one million people are expected to populate San Antonio’s metropolitan area in the next 24 years. “A lot of the issues that we offer in the festival are issues in San Antonio that will resonate with (residents).”

Seating for the event is limited. Early bird tickets cost $8 and will be available through Wednesday, Nov. 9. Tickets go up to $10 starting Nov. 10. To buy tickets, click here.

The CNU festival, founded in 2013 by Josh Paget and Joel Karahadian, happens in Los Angeles, Calif. every fall and includes other activities such as walking tours, art walks, bike tours, and foodie tours that help people explore the city. Since its inception, several other cities around the world such as Venice, Milan, Salt Lake City, Stockholm, Dallas, and Austin have hosted smaller-scale screenings.

“This festival is an annual film festival in Los Angeles and we (got the rights) to show 2015 films …,” Esserlieu said. “They were shown a few months ago in Austin and now (we are having) the first one in San Antonio. It’s something we’d like to do annually.”

The programming of the film festival focuses on topics such as the redesign of a street, the strengthening of neighborhood ties, new housing options, preserving a historic landmark, and more.

“(We have a film) about Atlanta that (showcases) what they are doing to curb sprawl,” said Esserlieu, adding that it’s a city with a lot of traffic that continues to expand. “But they also are looking at infill and increasing density, which are all issues happening in San Antonio too. It’s important to keep the conversation going in the community and make it relatable.”

You can find a list of the featured films and a brief explanation of each one, courtesy of CNU, below:


  • Sprawlanta – The New Urban development of Glenwood Park provides a path forward from Atlanta’s sprawl.
  • Cerebral City – A young woman explores the laneways and streets of Melbourne and discovers life and herself in the city.
  • The Idea District – San Diego’s last major infill opportunity.
  • The Northparker – A look at a single building and how it helps give shape to the public realm.
  • Some Things You Might See While in Amsterdam – Bikes involved.
  • I’d Rather Stay – Seniors in cities and suburbs discuss how the built environment impacts their lives.
  • Utah Transit – Salt Lake City shows how transit isn’t just for blue-state cities.
  • Work With the Landscape – Excerpt from the Pandemonium Series with Rob Cowan.
  • Brooklyn Farmer – Leaving a corporate job to farm on top of city roofs has its risks and rewards.

When asked about the importance of built environments and making San Antonio a place where more people want to live, work, and play, Esserlieu said it’s all about creating communities that people want and encouraging initiatives that appeal to the whole population, such as walkability.

“(The communities we create) don’t have to be expensive, but you should feel comfortable walking in your community … have a variety of housing, transportation methods, etcetera,” she said. “(It’s about) being an advocate for good community design in a way that is consistent with what the community wants.”

To learn more about the Congress for the New Urbanism – Central Texas Chapter, click here. To learn more about the New Urbanism Film Festival, click here.

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...