"See It Through Buffalo" being screened at United Nations forum

Still from the documentary short "See It Through Buffalo.".

Still from the documentary short "See It Through Buffalo."

by David J. Hill

Published February 12, 2020

“Buffalo and the work of our faculty and students have much to contribute to this crucial global conversation on urban issues.”
Robert G. Shibley, dean, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo

Buffalo’s story of place is being shared with mayors, ministers, journalists and thousands of others attending the United Nations’ 10th World Urban Forum this week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The city’s story is being told through the lens of film, with a screening of “See It Through Buffalo,” a documentary short presented by the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning at the Time Space Existence exhibition of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

The 15-minute film offers a candid view of Buffalo’s diverse urban landscapes and transitioning neighborhoods, where faculty and students work to address issues such as energy-efficient design, economic development, food systems planning, and refugee resettlement. It was co-produced with noted Buffalo filmmaker John Paget of Paget Films.

“See It Through Buffalo” is an official selection of the inaugural UN-Habitat Better Cities Film Festival and will be screened today (Feb. 12) in Abu Dhabi.

The festival, organized in partnership with First+Main Films, features documentary and fictional films from around the world on urban issues, including the theme of this year’s World Urban Forum — Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation. The film showing will be followed by discussions on topics and key areas raised.

“The film is an inspirational contribution to UN-Habitat’s theme of connecting culture and innovation, because it portrays an academic institution and a new generation engaged in experimentation and exploration within their city,” said Paget.

After this week, the UN-Habitat Better Cities Film Festival’s “Best of Fest” reel will become a traveling festival available for screenings at other UN-Habitat and UN events and cities and towns around the world.

Samina Raja, professor of urban and regional planning at UB and director of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, is leading the discussion following the screening of “See It Through Buffalo.”

Raja served as a keynote speaker for the Universities Roundtable at the World Urban Forum on Tuesday. Drawing on her food equity work, both in Buffalo and in the global south, Raja spoke about the ways in which universities can co-produce actionable knowledge that can lead to creating culturally inclusive and innovative cities.

The World Urban Forum is the world’s largest and most important conference on urban issues. It is held every two years and attracts thousands of participants including ministers, mayors, policy makers, academics, community activists, artists and journalists.

“Buffalo and the work of our faculty and students have much to contribute to this crucial global conversation on urban issues,” said Robert G. Shibley, professor and dean of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.

“From our Buffalo-rooted food systems planning tools now being implemented from Jamaica to Kashmir, to ‘See It Through Buffalo,’ a cinematic tribute to Buffalo’s urban landscapes and our work within them over 50 years, this is a story about the power of university-city partnerships to incubate globally relevant policy and design innovation,” Shibley added.

Watch the film

Learn more about "See It Through Buffalo," including its run last year at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice on a panel with Harvard GSD, Yale University School of Architecture and the Van Alen Institute.