The Urban World follows the experiences of one family living in a mixed Hindu/Muslim slum as they and over 10,000 other families are evicted from their homes on the banks of India’s Sabarmati River to make way for a massive development project. The film is a portrait of a family at a moment of crisis, and a case-study of an urban culture facing displacement that raises multiple questions regarding public policy and social justice in solving the plight of the world’s urban poor. Completed 2015/16 (TRT 41:00)

THE URBAN WORLD had its international premiere at the United Nations World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia. The film has received 15 international awards including the Gold Lion Award at the Barcelona International Film Festival; Platinum at the Oregon International Film Awards; the Silver Medal at the International Independent Film Awards; the Bronze Palm at the Mexico International Film Festival; the 2016 Bronze Spotlight Documentary Award; Special Merit in the Accolade Global Film Awards; the Denali (“highest peak”) Award at the Alaska International Film Festival; Aloha Accolade at the Honolulu Film Festival; Award of Excellence at the Canada International Festival (Toronto); First Place Trenton International; First Place Short Documentary at the American Movie Awards (Los Angeles); and Award of Merit at the International Documentary Awards in Jakarta.

“a surprisingly fresh approach…a masterful film.”
–– Theo Lipfert, University Film and Video Association

The Urban World is a compelling, closely-focused portrait of urban renewal… provocatively juxtaposing the rhetoric and good intentions of an urban planner with the reality.”
–– Philip Lutgendorf, President of the American Institute of Indian Studies

“…an important film on an important subject.”
–– anthropologist Jayasinhji Jhala, Temple University

“…highly artistic. The camerawork and editing are superb…It presents a complicated reality without oversimplifying it.”
–– Bimal Patel, President of CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India

Poverty, Housing, Human Rights, Human Interest, South Asian Studies, India, Urban Studies, Urban Ethnography, Visual Anthropology, Direct Cinema and Cinema Verité

“My films are often centered on issues of human rights, civil rights, and the representation of those marginalized by mainstream culture. The Urban World follows the eviction and relocation of a family at the crossroads of two of the most important urban developments in India today: the revitalization of city centers implemented by local governments, and the investment of massive amounts of capital and energy by India’s national government in constructing subsidized low income housing. The film documents good intentions, imperfect implementation, and mixed results. It situates the viewer with the direct experiences of how these initiatives affect the poor while looking at the situation in its complexity and giving voice to multiple perspectives: the principle planner of the massive renewal project, the legal advocate for those displaced, and the people themselves. The Urban World is a portrait of a family at a moment of crisis, an ethnography of a culture moved from a horizontal communal society to mid-rise facilities, and a case-study that raises multiple questions regarding public policy and social justice in solving the plight of the world’s urban poor.”

“I am the film’s writer, director, cinematographer and editor. My wife Zilan Munas is line producer, our daughter Zana Bass is field recordist, and historian Howard Spodek is subject specialist. The project is the culmination of 4 ½ years of work: three trips to India from 2010 to 2014 for research and filming on location; fund raising; months of translating and subtitling 80 hours of Urdu, Hindi and Gujarati into English; culling footage; evolving the script and concept; and a two year period of final editing.”

–– Warren Bass, 2016

WARREN BASS is an independent filmmaker and former Chair of Film & Media Arts at Temple University where he teaches screen directing, cinematography and advanced workshops in documentary and fiction production as a full professor.  He was trained at the Yale School of Drama in directing and at Columbia University in film as their School of the Arts Scholar. He has taught at Yale, NYU, AFI, and the State University of California, served as trustee of the University Film Study Center housed at Harvard/MIT, Vice President of the University Film and Video Association, on the Board of Directors of Canyon Cinema, guest editor of The Journal of Film and Video, and for an extensive period as Director of Temple University’s Graduate Program in Film. His essays on visual style have been published in English, Polish, Turkish and Chinese. His textbook on camcorders is published in seven countries. He has directed theater at Lincoln Center, off-Broadway and in regional professional theater. His film and video productions have been aired on PBS, syndicated television and cable in the U.S. and on European, Asian and Australian Television. His work has received over 100 regional, national and international awards. Professor Bass is a recipient of both the Great Teacher Award and the Creative Achievement Award from Temple University.

ZILAN MUNAS (producer, 2nd camera, co-editor) is an independent filmmaker based in the United States producing programs on educational, minority, feminist, South Asian and international concerns. She was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in the film indistry of Chennai, India where her father owned Royal Studios, which produced 35mm Bollywood style feature films in Tamil for South India and Sri Lanka. Zilan graduated Stella Maris College/University of Madras, worked for seven years as a producer/writer/director for the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, and served on Sri Lanka’s Fine Arts Council. In the United States she completed an MFA terminal degree in Film from Temple University earned first-in-class with the University’s highest graduate honors and Phi Delta Gamma National Honors. Her films have received awards from the American Film Institute (AFI), the University Film and Video Association (UFVA), Sony Corporation of America, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Media Arts Fellowship, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) John Facenda Emmy Award, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) Frank O’Conner National Emmy Award, and the prestigious Leeway Foundation Transformation Award for lifetime achievement.

wbass@temple.edu (email); 215 782-8049 (phone USA); warrenbass.com (website)

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