Film festival puts its “better” foot forward, explores community-focused issues

A showcase of the best short films focused on improving towns and cities will make a stop in Cincinnati on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.

Hosted by Women in Film Cincinnati, the Better Cities Film Festival highlights 18 short clips on everything from sustainability to affordable housing.

Laure Quinlivan, WIF Cincinnati treasurer and former Cincinnati City Council member from 2009-2013, learned about the film festival when her documentary, Blue Goes Green, was selected for inclusion this year.


Blue Goes Green, the story of Cincinnati building America’s first Net Zero Energy police station in 2016, anchors the second night of film screenings on Oct. 3.


“The congratulatory email from BCFF came with an invite to host a specially curated screening of Better Cities films, and I envisioned it as a great fundraising event for WIF Cincinnati,” Quinlivan says. “We’re bringing urbanists together along with geeks for sustainability, bicycle-friendly streets, and affordable housing. I hope people will be inspired and excited enough to bring some of these great urbanist ideas we’ll see on screen to Cincinnati.”


She got into filmmaking in 2001 when she produced and reported Visions of Vine Street for her former employer WPCO-TV Channel 9.


“The power of visual storytelling, whether film or video, became crystal clear,” Quinlivan explains. “Filmmakers get to take more time and be more creative. You have time to plan and set up what you want to achieve with each shoot without worrying about getting back to the station for the 6 p.m. news.”


Women in Film Cincinnati put together a screening committee, who watched 45 films from the Better Cities Film Festival and narrowed their selection down to 18. The chapter hopes that attendees will be drawn to the creative ways in which filmmakers address issues affecting municipalities all over the country.


Kristin Tieche is screening two films at the event. The first is Velo Visionaries, a series of interviews with bicyclists on global bicycle culture.


“Here in San Francisco, our bicycle community is very connected. I have met some of the most inspiring people while riding bikes with them,” she says. “I also found that, when I was riding a bike, I often experienced moments of insight and creative vision while my blood was pumping and endorphins were flying. I wondered if other bike people also had moments of insight so I decided to reach out to some of the most visionary bike people I've met to let viewers experience the world from their two-wheeled perspective.”


Tieche’s other film is Literacy for Environmental Justice, which documents the work of youth environmental leaders in San Francisco. In 2018, she began a collaboration with Northern California Public Media to produce segments for their environmentally themed television series, Bay Area Bountiful.


“One of their episodes focused on youth environmental leaders, and I knew I needed to follow the work of Literacy for Environmental Justice,” says Tieche, who is currently producing and directing her first feature-length documentary about bats in North America called The Invisible Mammal.


“The youth leaders featured in this film are so inspiring,” she says. “Through the program, they develop skills to become leaders and spokespeople for their community, Bayview-Hunters Point, which historically has experienced decades of environmental injustices.


“The youth leaders in this program have ideas, hopes and dreams for their community and develop hard skills to make these visions come to life in their neighborhood,” Tieche continues. I believe this film resonates with audiences worldwide because these young people give us so much hope.”

The Better Cities Film Festival, which takes place at the Hollywood Drive-in in College Hill, is $25 per car or $10 per walk-in/bike. City Councilmembers Greg Landsman and Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney will lead post-film discussions at Brink Brewing after the screenings. For more information, click here.

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Aiesha Little is a lover of jazz music, cosplay, and all things geeky. You can find more of her work at