It centres on a fictional suburb of Calgary called Evergreen and is basically a portrait of its fictional residents. These residents are interviewed in a documentary style, but their fictional quality becomes pretty clear early on.

But in addition to these fictional interviews, Burns and Brown draw upon straightforwardly non-fictional material. This includes footage of prominent thinkers about urban planning and community talking about the rise of suburbia; Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell features prominently, as does architectural guru James Howard Kunstler. The filmmakers also spike the work with factual statistics about mass transit, biking and walking, and so on. This is the one element of the film that I find slightly dodgy, since it’s not always clear if the statistics on offer are Canadian, North American, American, or international. At one point statistics produced by the “National Center for Biking and Walking” are cited, but there’s no indication at all that the “National” there means USA (the Center, as its spelling indicates, is based in Bethesda, Maryland). Thus the statistics are presumably describing the United States, whose experience of suburbia (or anything else, for that matter) is far from universal.

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