Thanks to the wonderful enthusiasm and response to the Architecture & Design Film Festival’s ADFF:ONLINE event last month, a new slate of films and post-screening conversations happened again in May.
ADFF:ONLINE is a way for the architecture and design community to remain engaged during this shelter-at-home period and experience a few specially curated films.
The second event showcased films about the creative genius and life work of a four outstanding architects and designers. Each produced forward-thinking ideas and methods that still stand the test of time. We have a lot to learn from each of them.
Director: Marco Orsini
2014 / 76 min / Ireland & USA
Gray Matters explores the long, fascinating life and complicated career of architect and designer Eileen Gray, whose uncompromising vision defined and defied the practice of modernism in decoration, design and architecture. Making a reputation with her traditional lacquer work in the first decade of the 20th century, she became a critically acclaimed and sought after designer and decorator in the next before reinventing herself as an architect, a field in which she labored largely in obscurity. Apart from the accolades that greeted her first building—persistently and perversely credited to her mentor—her pioneering work was done quietly, privately and to her own specifications. But she lived long enough (98) to be rediscovered and acclaimed. Today, with her work commanding extraordinary prices and attention, her legacy, like the designer, remains elusive, contested, and compelling.
Directors: Lene Borch Hansen, Anna von Lowzow
2018 / 90 min / Denmark
At the age of 37, Jørn Utzon designs the Sydney Opera House, propelling him to the status of stardom in the world of architecture. It is his great luck, but it also breaks his heart and becomes the biggest curse on his career, as he is forced to leave Australia prior to the completion. Back in Denmark, facing financial ruin, he receives a reprimand from the Danish Architectural Association and is told that he will never work on a public assignment—which he never did. Forty years later, Utzon is one of only two living persons ever to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. This documentary is the result of two years of extensive research and work. It contains first-time exclusive access to Utzon’s own original film recordings, photos, and letters. The film was shot in Australia, Spain, and Denmark and features many of Utzon’s works.
Directors: Elizabeth Federici, Laura Harrison
2011 / 78 min / USA
This is the first film to consider the work of the 1970s avant-garde architecture, graphic arts, and environmental design firm called Ant Farm, best known for its iconic land-art piece, Cadillac Ranch. Radical architects, video pioneers, and mordantly funny cultural commentators, the Ant Farmers created a body of deeply subversive multi-disciplinary work that questioned the boundaries of architecture and everything else in the process. Incorporating breathtaking archival video, new footage shot over 10 years, and animation based on zany period sketches, Space Land Time is about the joy of creation in a time when there were no limits.
Director: Britni Harris
2019 / 95 min / USA
Bruce Goff was one of the greatest American architects of the 20th century. His unconventional perspective challenged stigmas about the Midwest’s inability to produce innovative work. A peer to Frank Lloyd Wright, his work had a profound influence on the next generation of architects, including Phillip Johnson and Frank Gehry. However, Goff’s willingness to explore original forms often solicited polarized perspectives of his work. As a result of establishing his practice in an otherwise conservative landscape and his unabashed desire to experiment with the possibilities of form, much of his work has been left to decay or forgotten altogether. GOFF explores the life of an iconoclast and chronicles the events that led to the destruction and renewed interest of his memory and dwellings.
Although we were unable to hold the Architecture & Design Film Festival: D.C. in our historic home this year, we wanted to expressly thank the festival’s co-presenter, the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family, and our sponsors:
- CoStar Group
- The American Institute of Architects
- Bonstra | Haresign Architects
- Theo & Partners TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
- Embassy of Canada
- Dr. Lawrence Spinelli
- Room & Board
A special thanks as well to our in-kind sponsors: Herman Miller Collection, Design Foundry, Geppetto Catering, and Cotton & Reed.