A documentary feature on Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses and their epic battles for the right to the city in the 20th century, and how those struggles inform, define and frame the fights we are having over cities in the era of mass urbanization and the global megacity.


Filmmakers: Matt Tyrnauer
Year: 2016
Length: 92 mins
Country: USA
Format: HD


In 1960 Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds, with its exploration of the consequences of modern planners’ and architects’ reconfiguration of cities. Jacobs was also an activist, who was involved in fights in mid-century New York to stop ‘master builder’ Robert Moses from running roughshod over the city. This film retraces the battles for the city as personified by Jacobs and Moses, as urbanization moves to the very front of the global agenda. Many of the clues for formulating solutions to the dizzying array of urban issues can be found in Jacobs’ prescient text, and a close second look at her thinking and writing about cities is very much in order. This film sets out to examine the city of today though the lens of one of its greatest champions.


"Invigorating" ★★★★ - The Guardian

"A finely woven tapestry that feels as relevant and alive as the place you live." - Variety

"Enthralling" ★★★★ - The Financial Times

"Tyrnauer transforms what could be a staid profile film into an urgent story about the dangers of urban renewal” - Village Voice

"As the world’s urban population grows by more than one million every week, so does the resonance of this documentary" ★★★★ - The Times

"Excellent" ★★★★ - NOW Toronto


Matt Tyrnauer’s feature film, Valentino: The Last Emperor, has been called “flawless” by Richard Corliss of Time, and a “must-see” by The New York Times. Valentino premiered at the 2008 Venice Film Festival and won the top documentary prize at the Chicago Film Festival. It was one of the highest-grossing documentaries in 2010, and was short-listed for an Academy Award for best documentary feature.

He is currently at work on film projects, including the HBO dramatic adaptation of his Vanity Fair article “Once Upon a Time in Beverly Hills” which he is set to direct, as well as documentary projects, including Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, about urbanization and the work of Jane Jacobs, and Scotty, about Scotty Bowers and the secret history of sex in Hollywood in the pre-Stonewall era. Tyrnauer is also an award-winning journalist, who has written many feature articles for Vanity Fair, where he has been editor-at-large, special correspondent and is now a contributing editor. His articles on a wide range of topics, including Valentino Garavani, Marlene Dietrich, Martha Stewart, Siegfried and Roy, Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, green-design pioneer William McDonough, writer Bret Easton Ellis, producer Robert Evans have appeared in Vanity Fair and other publications, including GQ, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, L’Uomo Vogue, and Numero.

Tyrnauer, a native of Los Angeles, attended Crossroads School in Los Angeles and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he apprenticed under the film professor Joseph W. Reed, a pioneer in American film scholarship. Tyrnauer aided Reed in his research on American masters John Ford, Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz and Robert Aldrich. Tyrnauer’s honors thesis was an in-depth analysis of the films of Robert Aldrich.


Director: Matt Tyrnauer

Producers: Robert Hammond, Corey Reeser, Jessica Van Garssem Jennifer E. Carchman

Editor/ Co-producer: Daniel Morfesis

Co-Producer/Co-Editor: Andrea Lewis

Co-Producer: Troy Benjamin

Line Producer: Lisa Remington

Executive Producer: Juliet Page, Pierre Lagrange and Bernard Lagrange

Director of Photography: Chris Dapkins

Orginal Music: Jane Antonia Cornish

Voice of Jane Jacobs: Marisa Tomei

Voice of Robert Moses: Vincent D'Onofrio


Toronto International Film Festival 2016

Doc NYC 2016

IDFA Documentary Festival 2016

CPH:DOX 2017