A note from the trenches

Arrival City book jacket

Like the phenomenon it explores, this documentary has been a long time coming. Author Doug Saunders did the heavy lifting by distilling 10+ years of reportage and adding new stories to create his award-winning book on the final rural-to-urban migration. Arrival City is a highly readable mix of personal stories and solid research, and moments after I opened it, I could see it. Doug had put a human face on this massive shift, and I wanted in.

It took me a bit longer – and some ribbing about reconciling my ‘grown-up’ urbanist career with my addiction to travel and production (producing for The Amazing Race doesn’t cut it with policy wonks, oddly) – to contact Doug and get the ball rolling.

I think we’re in good shape. After just a month of development, SCETV signed on as lead broadcast partner (we love you guys!); its PBS distribution network reaches 99% of US households. We have seed money committed by some generous and forward-thinking companies, and a lot of healthy interest from foundations and corporations.

We’ll be uploading a trailer to Vimeo and YouTube soon, and will have a slightly longer demo on this site for people and organisations who want to find out more. If you’d like to be a part of this eye-opening global project, personally or through your company or foundation, please drop us a line.


Lisa Taylor, Producer/Writer

In London: Lisa Taylor – lisamoab@gmail.com
In Montreal: Karen Coshof – k.coshof@stonehaven.ca



March 31, 2013: OK, getting a little itchy. Just 1 or 2 minor tweaks left and we’ll release the first demo – a 1:15 teaser that will be our ‘calling card’ – THIS TUESDAY! Have watched it, oh, a few times now … Right. On to the proper demo!

March 25, 2013: Nearly there… Rough cut of the first teaser is in the works, as is a ‘proper’ website – oh wait; that’s this site!  Huge thanks to all of those who contributed time and skills to filming our shoestring demo this month!

Feb 26, 2013: Booked it! Off to shoot our demo in Montreal (a historic immigration success story, and a location that won’t break our infant bank…) and an interview with author Doug Saunders. Clips to follow in March, demo by April.

Feb 19, 2013: First seed money (yay!) and our first Canadian broadcast license! Hello tax credits…

Feb 8, 2013: A little over a month into the project, SCETV / PBS, the American public network, commits to airing Arrival City – we have our first broadcaster! 

Watch this space for video clips, news on broadcasters and funding, production updates and release dates, and for public- and policymaker events in your region. It’s still early days, so in the meantime, please visit Doug’s website and keep in touch here.

ARRIVAL CITY: Starting out at the end of the line

Dhaka Co...A Vivid new documentary on the people and places shaping our future

In the next decades, more than two billion rural people will gather their scant possessions and gamble their lives on a move to the city. Official response to the ragged communities – the “Arrival Cities” – where they cluster can mean the difference between riches and riots.

The consequences aren’t just local. The last surge anywhere near this scale spawned revolutions of all kinds around the world. This final migration could have as much impact… at an accelerated rate.

The people in Arrival Cities want to succeed, and governments want their cities to function. So why do some Arrival Cities fail and others thrive? Can their fortunes be changed? These are the questions Arrival City will ask, and try to answer.


We call them slums, favelas, barrios – dirty, chaotic, dangerous, they look like the end of the line. But are they? People pouring in from the countryside don’t see it that way. These chaotic communities are where they come to start a life, or at least to build a better one for their children.

This is their story. And it’s a story that will affect us all.

“Arrival City”, a 60-minute film based on the internationally acclaimed book by Doug Saunders, turns the idea of the dead-end slum on its head. At ground level, we meet Arrival City newcomers struggling to break into the core city – and the middle class. At the citywide level, we see officials struggling to manage the unmanageable, keeping arrival cities from collapsing, or from bleeding into the rest of the metropolis. At the global level, we hear how our connectedness delivers innovations, pandemics, and political movements from the arrival city right to your front door.