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Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary (2015)Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary (2015)

This 68-minute film about the tiny house movement takes place (where else?!) in ever-progressive Portland.  The Australian film maker Jeremy Beasley follows four people who build their tiny houses.  Ben is in his twenties, and for him building a house helps to work out issues about his deceased father.  Karen is fifty, and she's questioning things after her partner committed suicide.  Nikki and Mitchell (and their two dogs) are in their early thirties, and together they want to live a life different from American cultural assumptions.  As is often the case in the tiny house movement, none of these people had any construction experience. There's an ongoing debate about definitions, but by one measure a "tiny house" is under 325 square feet.  Many tiny houses are built on a flat bed utility trailer, raising questions about permits, permanence and mobility.  One of the great things about this film is that it doesn't romanticize its subject.  Nikki and Mitchell say that working and then living so closely will make or break you.  Ben says, “I feel like I have a lot in common with Captain Ahab. It’s like me versus my tiny house — and I’m trying to build this thing and this thing is trying everything it can to not get built.”  The tiny house movement raises all sorts of interesting questions, like how much house do you need to be happy?  What is the gift economy?  Community?  Why is it that since 1870 the average size of a house has doubled even though the average size of families has gotten smaller?  For another take on this growing movement, see the other documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small (2013).

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