Published on May 16th, 2008 | by greenranger


Film Review- A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil

curitiba-front-web-a-convenient.jpgWhen discussing the world most progressive “eco” cities one might toss out San Francisco for it various green initiatives (such as banning plastic bags), New York City for its effective subway system, or Munich with it’s use of alternative energy especially solar but after watching this recent documentary “A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil” some people may change their green tune. The film highlights the surprisingly progressive sustainable city and using urban examples to highlight various topics into well paced film.

First time director Giovanni Vaz Del Bello neatly divides the film down into four areas of innovation: Transportation, Recycling, Affordable Housing and Urban Parks. Convenient Truth shows how convenient the transportation remains in this million plus city. Their progressive mayors like Jamie Lerner, city planners and designers determined that the city should revolve around people, not cars. From the cost-effective yet expansive bus system (with the notable bus station tubes) to the pedestrian-only walkways, then documentary highlights how effective, people friendly and sustainable changes can be made with minimal or no cost.

Cinematographer Maria Terezinha (who also produced) captures energizing city images that encompass the film’s other topics. When cities like New York City often can’t afford to keep their recycling program going, A Convenient Truth shows how Curitiba offers programs that not only clean most of the cityscape but have created a subset of employment based around recycling all while keeping within the city budget. The film addresses social justice with a section about low-cost urban housing and finally how city parks have not only beatified the city but have increased property values (and thus property taxes) as well as prevented floods that used to ravage the city.

The film makes interesting parallels toward New Orleans (and hurricane Katrina) as well as some Bay Area eyesores that could get a clue from the solutions found in Curitiba. Although the film suffers slightly from low production value and the sound quality wavers the docu-feature offers an interesting topic of a city that most people know little if anything about.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

  • Thanks Keith! Great to see this amazing city get revealed to the world. I remember hearing about Curitiba often while at Presidio getting a sustainable MBA. We’ve got a lot to learn from them. And others. Like this article about the Greendex, measuring country’s greenness shows:

  • Bruno H.

    Sorry man, but I would call it A Profitable Lie. Yes, we do have an innovative transportation system, a bunch of parks and a recycling system. But we also have a lot of car traffic (increasable in the last years), the sky becomes gray from polution in the cold days and that beautiful buses you see in the film are commonly crowded.
    Maybe ten years ago it was like this…

    • Yes, but without all of those initiatives your city would have been EXTREMELY worse off today! Plus you don’t have Jaime Lerner leading the way anymore.

  • I LOVED the story of Curitiba. It’s become one of my touchstones. Especially phenomenal thinking was how they hit on reducing the city working week to 4 days but pay everyone the same: the economics of that equation WORK! but really, the adjustment was made possible because the consciousness was there to recognize that this would be a supremely functional solution as well as engendering goodwill in the citizenry. I was so happy to turn the head of recycling in a small English city on to this movie. She purchased it for a learning session with her entire department. Big steps for day-to-day sanity and quality of life.

    Let’s one by one unfold the solutions. I will post links to 3 flowgrams. One on eco-porta-potties, one on tree-free paper, one on Peak oil…

    Sweet Relief: Eco-Porta-potties:

    Paper Tigers, Tall Trees:

    World Without Oil… Still Playing:

  • Bruno H.

    Working week with 4 days? Who is publishing that? This must be another Curitiba, not this one in Brazil in which I live.

  • Thanks for the review! Could you consider adding the website so people can get the dvd if they want?

    Thanks again,

  • Hi Keith,

    Thanks for writing about Curitiba and Giovanni’s excellent video. Is there any city in the that comes close to teh progress made in Curitiba, do you think?

    Here’s a brief article I’ve written on Curitiba:

  • Hi Bruno,

    I understand that Curitiba’s got problems today, but how do you think they did between the 1970s and the 1990s?

Back to Top ↑