Screenings: 2012 Architecture & Design Film Festival

The 4th Annual Architecture & Design Film Festival is coming to New York City’s Tribeca Cinemas this weekend, running from October 18th through the 21st. This year, over 25 films exploring different facets of architecture and design, many of which are premiering for the first time, will be presented along with a series of panel discussions and an “Audi Architecture Tour” of Tribeca led by a tour guide from the Municipal Art Society (MAS). The films are curated into larger programs, twelve in all, combining larger features and short clips. Below are a selection of programs Urban Omnibus readers might enjoy.

Program 1: The Vignellis
9:15pm | Thursday, October 18th | Q&A with Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra
9:30pm | Thursday, October 18th | Q&A with Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra
9:30pm | Sunday, October 21st | Q&A with Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra

Design is One: Lella and Massimo Vignelli (directed by Kathy Brew and Roberto Guetta) reflects on the illustrious careers of Italian-born designers Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Over 40 years, the duo has created masterworks of modern design across fields, including industrial and product design, graphic and publication design, corporate identity programs, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, and furniture design. They brought the Helvetica typeface to the New York Subway System (see previous UO coverage here); created identity programs for Knoll International, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ford, and American Airlines; designed furniture, clothing, dinnerware, and more. The film aims to “brings us into the work and everyday moments of the Vignellis’ world, capturing their intelligence and creativity, as well as their humanity, warmth, and humor.” A Q&A with filmmakers Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra will follow each screening.

Program 2: Culture Statements
9:15pm | Friday, October 19th | Q&A with Jord den Hollander
7:30pm | Sunday, October 21st | Q&A with Jord den Hollander

Mission Statements: The Architecture of Dutch Diplomacy (directed by Jord den Hollander) follows a robust 20-year embassy-building initiative by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs intended to promote Dutch design around the world. The film follows the stories of “four of the most outspoken new embassies”: Paramaribo (Suriname), by Lafour & Wijk; Berlin (Germany), by Rem Koolhaas; Maputo (Mozambique), by Claus and Kaan Architects; and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), by Bjarne Mastenbroek and Dick van Gameren. By asking the question “Did the architecture really add to the diplomacy the Netherlands stand for?”, the film hopes to “[unveil] the underestimated cultural aspect in international diplomacy and the misunderstanding that comes with it.” Director Jord den Hollander will be on hand for a Q&A after both screenings. Also showing in the program are two shorts. Machine for Life (directed by Ruth Somalo), a five-minute clip inspired by Le Corbusier’s “mechanized” life, follows a space traveller love story set in a 375-square-foot apartment. Paraiso (directed by Nadav Kurtz) documents the daily lives of three immigrant window washers cleaning Chicago skyscrapers.

Program 6: The Public Realm
7:15pm | Saturday, October 20th | Q&A with Filmmakers
5:00pm | Sunday, October 21st | Q&A with Filmmakers

Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line (directed by Muffie Dunn and Tom Piper) tells the story of two Manhattan projects by DS+R that present new visions for public space in the 21st century city. The 54-minute film looks at how the acclaimed works breathed life into previously stagnant spaces through a series of thoughtful interventions. Two accompanying films that look at urban and derelict features round out Program 6. Water From Above (directed by Gala Lutteroth Kochen) investigates New York City’s iconic water tanks through interviews with the people who build them, artists who are inspired by them, and the city-dwellers who pass them every day. Canopy + Connection: United Visual Artists (directed by Sarah Keenlyside) documents two permanent light installations in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square by London-based firm United Visual Artists.

Program 7: Long Island Modern
7:15pm | Friday, October 19th | Q&A with Jake Gorst and Tomas Rossant
5:15 pm | Sunday, October 21st | Q&A with Jake Gorst and Heather Leja

In addition to the cookie-cutter houses of Levittown, Long Island is also home to some of the country’s greatest examples of mid-century modern houses.Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island (directed by Jake Gorst) examines the work of notable designers Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Herbert Beckhard, Frank Lloyd Wright, Horace Gifford, Edward Durrell Stone, Marcel Breuer, Andrew Geller, Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski, and others. The film has a pointed preservationist message, and Director Jake Gorst hopes “the film will foster renewed awareness and appreciation for Long Island’s remaining modernist structures and its unique architectural history” as it disappears in the face of redevelopment and natural disasters. Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste (directed by David W. Leitner) is a three-minute short on Newtown Creek’s striking Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The facility “epitomizes what can be achieved by progressive government working with local activists to adopt the latest technology — but it’s the award-winning architecture and design courtesy of New York City’s Percent for Art program that will drop your jaw.”

Program 11: Only in NY
7:00pm | Friday, October 19th | Q&A with 16 Acres Filmmakers
7:15pm | Sunday, October 21st | Q&A with 16 Acres Filmmakers

16 Acres (directed by Richard Kankin) follows the World Trade Center site’s tumultuous path since 9/11. The film seeks to unfold the near-mythicized story of the project’s “ten years, nineteen government agencies, a dozen projects, and over $20 billion.” In one of the first films to comprehensively examine the event, writer/co-producer Matt Kapp says, “we wanted an answer to the question: what’s the real story behind why it’s taken so long to rebuild?” Filmmakers interviewed a myriad of people pivotal to the project including Mayor Micheal Bloomberg, Governer George Pataki, Larry Silverstein, Daniel Libeskind, David Childs, Michael Arad, and many others, to tell a story of “the dramatic tension between noblest intentions and the politics, hubris, and ideology that is the bedrock of New York.” Then, in the six-minute short The Standard, New York, Directors Catherine Camille Cushman and Stephen Blaise interview Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects about the design of the High Line-straddling Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

Audi Architecture Tour
In yet another partnership between architecture and design events and luxury car companies, Audi and the Municipal Art Society have teamed up to offer 20-minute architectural tours of Tribeca on Saturday and Sunday (October 20th and 21st). Participants will cruise around in a new Audi A8 (driven by an “Audi professional”) for a tour designed by architectural historian Matt Postal. The tour comes with complimentary tickets to the film festival, and is free, but reservations are required.

Tickets for the 2012 Architecture & Design Film Festival New York can be purchased online here, or at the Tribeca Cinemas Box Office at 54 Varick Street in Manhattan.

Sben Korsh is a Project Associate for Urban Omnibus and studies architecture history through the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Study. He lives in Brooklyn.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.