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3 May 2017

Architecture & Design Film Festival

One of the festival’s organisers and curators, Clare Buchanan, reveals her top picks from this year’s line up of international films.


Now in it’s sixth year, this ever popular celebration of architecture and design will be touring the country through to July, starting this week at Auckland’s Rialto Cinemas.

Clare Buchanan became involved with the festival after an invitation to become one of the festival’s curators, along with her business partner, Tracey Lee. “We both work in brand strategy and advertising and are self-confessed research geeks, and I have background in art history and film, so it seemed like a perfect project to be involved with alongside our other work.”

Clare’s first choice for this year’s festival is Gaming The Real World, a film discusses how cities might evolve in the future and how the processes may change, through the medium of online gaming. “Since we’ve been involved with the curating the festival we’ve decided to broaden the discussion around architecture and design along other narratives,” she explains. “As the world is changing, and populations of our cities increase and are become more dense, there’s more of a discussion going on about how our cities should work, how we want to live, and what’s important beyond traditional architecture and urban planning.”


2016, Director: Anders Eklund

73 min, subtitled

Can a game like Minecraft change the world? With cities everywhere struggling to cope with the population growth that increased urbanisation brings, can video games be harnessed to help the residents, especially young people, take part in planning, and fixing their own cities?

Today, public spaces and entire cities are being designed, planned and played through the medium of games. The result of this ‘civic gamification’ is that city architecture and urban planning is being democratised. Cities have become the ‘ground zero’ for digital innovation and the debate about how our cities evolve has suddenly gone viral.

This film shows that the gap between reality and simulation is closing rapidly and that games can have a very positive effect. We follow three gaming companies navigating the space where urban planning and gaming meet: Mojang (the creators of Minecraft), Paradox Interactive and their game Cities: Skylines and indie game newcomer, Block’hood

With strategic alliances with groups such as UN Habitat, and successful proving grounds in locations such as Nepal, Nairobi, Katmandu, the film reveals the real-world social change that game-oriented city planning brings. How will our cities look in 20–100 years time?

Clare (and Tracey) also decided that the remit for the design films should be quite broad, and that’s why she included her second choice, Driving Dreams. “This is a film about a really niche industry, car design. The style of the design is super expressive, and came out of the style of painting that was around at the time, when everything was organic and three dimensional… and who knew, Turin was the car design capital of the world.”


2016, Director: Gianluca Migliarotti

52 min, subtitled

Driving Dreams is the a documentary about the golden age of Italian automotive design, featuring interviews with the world best automotive designers of that era. From great Aldo Brovarone who started his career in 1949, to present design directors of Pininfarina, Zagato and FCA, we meet designers, journalists, car collectors, and even the ‘battilastra’ (panel beaters, to you and I), who hand beat the aluminium bodies.

The film is shot in their homes, offices, private museums and two top events. Come and feel the passion of these trailblazing, talented visionaries and their ardent followers and fans.

The Neutra double feature is Clare’s next choice. “Windshield" is a brand new film that tells the ultimately tragic tale of the architect’s only significant home on the Eastern seaboard of the USA,” says Clare. “And The Oyler House is one of my favourite documentaries, ever, that not only expresses Neutra’s architectural style, but also the relationships he built with his clients and patrons. It’s a beautiful story,” she adds.



2013, Director: Michael Dorsey

48 min

In 1959, a government employee named Richard Oyler, living in the tiny desert town of Lone Pine, California, asked world-famous modern architect Richard Neutra to design his modest family home. To Oyler's surprise, Neutra agreed. Thus began an unlikely friendship that led to the design and construction of an iconic mid-century modern masterpiece.

Considered the "father of California Modern Architecture," Time Magazine put Richard Neutra on their cover in 1949, ranking him second only to Frank Lloyd Wright among America's greatest architects. This film explores how Neutra came to befriend this modest, small-town family, and how he was inspired by the site's stunning desert setting, which he compared to the grandness of the mystical Gobi Desert.


2016, Director: Elissa Brown

47 min

In the mid-1930s, a scion of one of New England’s oldest and wealthiest families, John Nicholas Brown, and his wife Anne boldly embrace modernism and select the young and ambitious Richard Neutra to build them a 14,510 square foot summer house on Fishers Island, NY that they name ‘Windshield’.

Through an enormously detailed correspondence, patron and architect discuss every detail of the house’s design and together pursue cutting-edge technology, much of which had only previously been used in commercial architecture. Then, just weeks after the Browns move in, tragedy strikes when the hurricane of 1938 devastates the East Coast.

“Windshield: A Vanished Vision” explores the pivotal impact of the house on Neutra’s career and takes us on a journey with a couple caught between the values of their upbringings and their evolving social ideals.

Directed by granddaughter, Elissa Brown, she lovingly weaves fascinating home movies taken by her grandfather of traveling with Neutra in California, the home’s construction and of the family’s life there, together with son J. Carter Brown’s inspiring memories about the summer house of his youth and the voices of architectural historians Thomas S. Hines and Dietrich Neumann.

Finally, there’s Where Architects Live, which, as it’s name suggests, takes a look at eight eminent architects and their homes. “This documentary gets to look inside eight different homes, and eight super-different approaches to living. It also explores some of the key projects that each architect has been responsible for over the years,” says Clare.


2014, Director: Francesca Moltini

78 min, subtitled

Eight architects, eight houses, eight stories, eight paradigms of contemporary living.

Presented at Salone del Mobile, part of Milan Design Week 2014, Where Architects Live gives an intriguing insight into the daily lives of some of the world’s leading designers: Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind and Bijoy Jain/Studio Mumbai.

The film, produced by Muse, collects more than 30 video contributions filmed for the exhibition Where Architects Live. It intimately reveals the homes of the eight architects, broadening visions of domestic architecture and interior design, and suggesting that this discipline is most suited to evolution and experimentation.

We also get a glimpse into eight international cities at the centre of a great metamorphosis: Tokyo, Berlin, Mumbai, San Paolo, Milan, London, Paris and New York. Here’s a chance to approach the multiple forms of living, at different latitudes, through the construction of personal narrations, stories of spaces and objects, new images and hidden clues.

The Resene Architecture & Design Film Festival 2017 will be touring the country between May and July. Dates and cities, as follows:

Auckland, Rialto Cinemas, Thursday 4 May to Wednesday 17 May

Wellington, Embassy Theatre, Thursday 18 May to Sunday 4 June

Dunedin, Rialto Cinemas, Thursday 8 June to Sunday 18 June

Christchurch, Academy Gold, Thursday 29 June to Wednesday 12 July


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