One part of this year's Seattle Design Festival—which involves three days of new films featuring architecture and design—is a program called Design Inspirations, a collection of short films capturing different aspects of the current urban condition. One short, This Is Shanghai, is a mind-blowing blast through the various levels of life in the financial capital of the second largest economy in the world, China. This is the new, bold, and bright Shanghai, with its spectacular skyscrapers, small apartments, big and small businesses, flows of traffic on elevated freeways, and the river.

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Another short, Splitscreen: A Love Story, is a sweet little tale of two huge cities, New York and Paris, that ends in another huge city, London. The story concerns two lovers who leave their apartments, one in NYC and the other in Paris, and move about their cities on a split screen. We see NYC sky/Paris sky, NYC subway station/Paris subway station, and so on/and so on. Another short, Tiny Living, is set outside of our city, Seattle, in a rural area where a young and creative couple lives in a tiny house. Theirs is the future of living, which is microliving—living with as few possessions and as little room as possible. The house cost the couple $20,000 to make and runs mostly on solar power. The couple seems happy and liberated from the heaviness of owning too much dumb stuff. Other shorts show other equally interesting urban situations. recommended

Seattle Design Festival runs Sept 13–15 at SIFF Film Center. See siff.net for full schedule.