The word “sapienza” means “wisdom” in Italian. It also refers to the Church of Saint Yves at La Sapienza, 1642–1660, designed by Baroque architect Francesco Borromini. In Eugene Green’s film, La Sapienza, Borromini is a hero of the protagonist, architect Alexandre Schmid (played by Fabrizio Rongione). Borromini incorporated the remains of a 14th century church, rather than razing it, a touchstone for Schmid. Geometry reigns throughout: the building is capped by a corkscrew lantern, and triangles and semi-circles are combined with figurative elements.
This year’s Park City offerings at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals ranged from portraits of architects, a mayor with architectural dreams, a victim of the foreclosure crisis, those trapped in physical and dreamed spaces, and individuals exploring the cultural landscape. Always a harbinger of what is coming up, look out for these films and media projects coming to a screen near you.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s announcement that Chicago would launch an international festival of art and architecture—its own take on the famous Venice biennale—drew jeers and cheers from the design community both near and far from The Second City. AN called for the show aspiring to be North America’s largest architectural exhibition to go beyond tourism bromides.
Now the upstart expo has a name, as well as its first show. Read More
Architecture & Design Film Festival
54 Varick Street, New York
It’s that time of year again, when the Architecture & Design Film Festival brings a bouquet of moving image portraits about the built environment and the creators behind them to New York. From October 5–19 at Tribeca Cinemas, you can catch the U.S. premiere of the much-anticipated series masterminded by Wim Wenders, Cathedrals of Culture. Made by six directors—Wenders, Robert Redford, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Margreth Olin and Karim Aïnouz—about six buildings: Berlin Philharmonic, the National Library of Russia, Halden Prison, the Salk Institute, the Oslo Opera House, and the Centre Pompidou, all in 3-D.
The recent 2014 Tribeca Film Festival screened a remarkable number of films on displacement. People were displaced from their homes—often forced but sometimes voluntary—for financial reasons, discrimination, landlord harassment (or irritation), and natural disasters. In the film Below Dreams, which takes place in New Orleans, a character says “Everybody needs a room.” Here are a few seekers.
At this year’s SXSW Festival, engineering took center stage in the documentary DamNation (directors Travis Rummel & Ben Knight), which won the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award. It begins with America’s rash of dam-building under FDR when these mammoth structures were considered man-made wonders. Hoover and Grand Coulee are the large-scale examples, but there were about 80,000 smaller dams built across the country.
A short time from now in a neighborhood not far, far away… filmmaker extraordinaire George Lucas may land his art and film museum in Chicago. The move comes after the filmmaker’s bid to build the museum in San Francisco fell through last year. Read More
Tacita Dean: JG
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Through January 26, 2014
JG, the latest work in film from British-born, Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean, is inspired by her correspondence with British author J.G. Ballard and the connections between his short story, “The Voice of Time,” and Robert Smithson’s landmark earthwork, Spiral Jetty.
This Sunday the Tribeca Grand Hotel will be hosting a screening of Andreas Dalsgaard’s documentary, The Human Scale. Sponsored by the Tribeca Trust, the film will be followed by commentary from architectural critic and author Michael Sorkin. The movie examines human happiness within the context of urban life and was screened in New York last year as part of the Architecture and Design Film Festival. Tickets for the event can be purchased here with all proceeds benefiting Tribeca Trust’s public space initiative.
Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema
Museum of Modern Art
The Roy and Niuta Titus Galleries and the Film Lobby
Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Through February 9, 2014
When you enter the Film Entrance to the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street, you are greeted by two large lions. No, you are not 11 blocks south at the New York Public LIbrary, nor are you in Venice, Italy. You are entering the world of Dante Ferretti, the 70-year old multi–Academy Award–winning art director of films, opera, exhibitions, and even two New York City restaurants, Salumeria Rosi (design inspired by a scene in Federico Fellini’s Satyricon). Large, muscular, physically confident objects dot the floor—the clock-face from Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011), Art Deco chandeliers from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975), and Arcimboldo figures comprised of vegetables, fruits and flowers (Milan World Expo, 2015). But these are actually lightweight, ephemeral objects made of fiberglass and not meant to last beyond the creation of the film or duration of the event. The clock and chandeliers were on the cusp of being tossed when curators Jytte Jensen and Ron Magliozzi salvaged them.
New York City
IFC Center and SVA Theater
This year the 4th DOC NYC documentary film festival boasts 132 films and events: 73 feature-length, 39 shorts, and 20 panels. Tucked into the schedule are films about architecture, design, and the arts amongst a wide array of subjectmatter. Only one, If You Build It, was also seen at the recent Architecture & Design Film Festival, so here’s your chance to view a new crop and to see the ones you’ve missed.
2013 Architecture & Design Film Festival
54 Varick Street
“Erecting a building is like making a movie….both processes involve blending light and movement into space and time. A model is like a script: at best it’s a promise and at worst it’s a safeguard. And, as with a script, a moment comes when you have to test your model against reality. You must start shooting the film, start erecting the building.”
—The Interior Passage
We can see these starts when the two art forms come together in the 4th annual Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Tribeca Cinemas where 25 films will be screened through October 20. This year, the trend is toward process films that chronicle movements and initiatives (planning, education, preservation), portraits of buildings more than individuals, and Modernism referenced even when it’s not the direct subject.