Award-winning filmmaker Wingert-Jabi, of Reston, has been working on the film for more than two years.
The documentary explores founder Robert Simonʼs unique vision for American life. While 1950s post-war suburban sprawl prioritized single-family homes, Simon dreamed ʻanother way of livingʼ that valued community, nature and social equity.
Simon set out to build a suburban town that integrated citizens across racial and economic divides. It wasn’t always an easy ride.
Many longtime Restonians are interviewed in the film, which also uses historical photos and items. Wingert-Jabi has filmed more than 250 hours of footage to create the 72-minute movie.
Wingert-Jabi says she hopes the legacy of Simon, who died last month at age 101, will live on through this film.
“The film shows how Simon’s vision was so powerful and touched upon such basic human values that it not only influenced the way the suburbs were developed in America but also guided the development of Reston over the last 50 years,” she says.
A rough cut of the film was screened for Reston VIPs in 2014 as part of Simon’s 100th birthday celebrations. Wingert-Jabi said much more work has been put into editing the film into its current format.
She said she is excited the film will be premiering here in Virginia.
“From the beginning, Reston was shaped by its Virginia context and it continues to grow in that context today,” she said. “The University of Virginia is an ideal setting to have a conversation about how Simon’s vision developed over 50 years and how it can inform community development moving forward.”
The screening will be followed by a conversation with Urban Land Institute Global CEO, Patrick Phillips; Virginia State Senator and Reston Resident, Janet Howell; Reston’s first salesman, Chuck Veatch; director Wingert-Jabi; and the University of Virginiaʼs Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, Tim Beatley.