ADFF:NY (Nov 1-5) Announces Full Film Line-up & Festival Highlights

Paul Goldman. 2016. The Diplomat, the Artist and the Suit. View Hill House.
Matt Tyrnauer. 2016. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
Tomas Koolhaas. 2016. REM.
Reiner Holzemer. 2017. DRIES.

The full film line-up of the Architecture & Design Film Festival’s New York event (ADFF:NY) has officially gone live and does not disappoint!

With tickets going on sale October 4, ADFF: NY explores architecture & design’s intersection with all creative and innovative pursuits. The 30+ feature length & short films touch upon topics such as imaginative solutions for homeless housing and how drones will impact architecture, and include exclusive windows into the minds of creatives such as fashion designer Dries Van Noten and Rem Koolhaas. A short film even follows four dancers in search of a narrative as they prowl the interiors and exteriors of Bjarke Ingels’ new DAM Award winning VIA 57 West in NYC.

WHEN: November 1-5, 2017

WHERE: Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011

TICKETS: Ticket sales go live October 4, 2017 $16.50 for General Admission $14 for AIA members (must inquire for discount code) $11.50 for students with valid ID Ticket packages are also available


– Opening Night Film (November 1): Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place. Directed by Catherine Hunter, the film explores the life and art of Australia’s most famous living architect, now 80 years old, as he designs his most ambitious project to date — a mosque for an Islamic community in Melbourne.

– The World Premiere of SuperDesign, a new documentary by Francesca Molteni (Director ofAmare Gio Ponti & Where Architects Live), tells the story about Italian Radical Design. The ADFF:NY screenings lead to R & Company’s opening of the exhibition SuperDesign, a survey of Italian Radical Design from 1965-1975 (November 7, 2017 – January 4, 2018).

– Columbus is not only director Kogonada’s debut feature film, but is also ADFF’s first inclusion of a narrative film. In the film, a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour and his son Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana — a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings by world-renowned architects like Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier.

– Films featuring Pritzker Prize winners include: Jean Nouvel: Reflections; Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect; Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place; Getting Frank Gehry; REM; Zaha: An Architectural Legacy

– US Premieres: Aires Mateus: Matter in Reverse; Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres; The Diplomat, the Artist & the Suit; Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place; Integral Man

– NY Premieres: DRIES; The Neue Nationalgalerie

Below are synopses of all feature-length films.


Aires Mateus: Matter in Reverse
US Premiere
2017 / 65 min / Portugal
Director: Henrique Pina

The work of the architecture firm Aires Mateus clearly shows contemporaneity in both complexity and contradiction, a difficult condition to express in the realm of architecture. The extent of the work that they’ve been developing for many years confirms this. Their proposals develop a language with a strong universal impact. From this universality emerges an adaptation to the territory rooted in a clear Portuguese tradition. When interpreting Aires Mateus’ work one finds an appetite – almost a desire – for a cinematographic appropriation: by the invention of a place; by the confrontation between body and matter; for the clarity of games of shadow; and for the search of a silence of its own. The matter is found in reverse.

Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres
US Premiere
2016 / 59 min / UK
Director: Sarah Howitt

Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres is a beautifully shot film by award-winning director Sarah Howitt. The documentary tells the story of Maggie’s, their approach to cancer care, and the role that great design plays in the cancer support they offer. In 1993, Maggie Keswick Jencks was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told she had three months to live with no place to cry but a toilet cubicle. At that moment she realized there had to be a better way, and spent the last year of her life working on an idea for a cancer care center which was realized just over a year after she died. Since then, the most prominent names in architecture have designed astonishing landmark buildings. The film features interviews with world-renowned architects Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
2016 / 92 min / USA
Director: Matt Tyrnauer

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs

Citizen Jane highlights Jane Jacobs’ magisterial 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she single-handedly undercuts her era’s orthodox model of city planning, exemplified by the massive Urban Renewal projects of New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses. Jacobs and Moses figure centrally in the story as archetypes of the “bottom up” and the “top down,” respectively. They also figure as two larger-than-life personalities: Jacobs, a journalist with provincial origins, no formal training in city planning, and scarce institutional authority seems at first glance to share little in common with Robert Moses, a high prince of government and urban theory fully ensconced in New York’s halls of power and privilege. Yet both reveal themselves to be master tacticians who, in the middle of the 20th century, became locked in an epic struggle over the fate of the city. In three suspenseful acts, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City gives audiences a front row seat to this battle, and shows how two opposing visions of urban greatness continue to ripple across the world stage, with unexpectedly high stakes.

2017 / 104 min / USA
Director: Kogonada

In Kogonada’s debut feature film, a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour and his son Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana – a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings by world-renowned architects like Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their own conflicted emotions.

Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner
2017 / 47 / USA
Directors: Catherine Ledner & Roy Beeson

The documentary, Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner, is an in depth exploration of an influential New Orleans modernist architect whose buildings for the National Maritime Union in the 1960s are now iconic figures in the NYC landscape. The film follows Ledner’s journey as a post WWII student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin to present day where Ledner continues to work and innovator at the age of 93. With interviews and on site tours of his buildings, Albert details his thoughts and personal inspirations for his varied and experimental designs.

The Diplomat, the Artist & the Suit
US Premiere
2016 / 57 min / Australia
Director: Paul Goldman

Three remarkable men – John Denton, Bill Corker and Barrie Marshall – have created Australia’s most internationally renowned architecture firm. This film follows the building of the new Australian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale.

NY Premiere
2017 / 90 min / Belgium, Germany
Director: Reiner Holzemer

For the first time fashion designer Dries Van Noten allows a filmmaker to accompany him in his creative process and rich home life. For an entire year, Reiner Holzemer documents the precise steps that Dries takes to conceive four collections, the rich fabrics, embroidery and prints exclusive to his designs. As well as the emblematic fashion shows that bring his collections to the world and have become cult “must sees” at Paris Fashion Week.

This film offers an insight into the life, mind and creative heart of a master fashion designer who, for more than 25 years, has remained independent in a landscape of fashion consolidation and globalization. Original music by Colin Greenwood of Radiohead, Matthew Herbert, and Sam Petts-Davies

Face of the Nation
2017 / 60 min / USA
Director: Mina M. Chow

Daughter of immigrants, an idealistic architect struggles to keep her dream alive as she journeys to discover why America abandoned World’s Fairs. For generations of Americans, World’s Fairs captured visions of hope for the future as part of their collective memory. Mina Chow became fascinated with World’s Fairs when she saw pictures of her parents at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Beginning with their stories, Mina shares this legacy and the American values that inspired her to become an architect. She is excited to go to the 1st World’s Fair in China. With over 73 million visitors, the Shanghai World Expo breaks all attendance records for any event in human history. But what she discovers there not only destroys her confidence as an American architect; it is symptomatic of a country that has lost its way. Her dream destroyed Mina begins a search for answers… to find out what happened to the vision of World’s Fairs and also… what happened to America.

The Gamble House
Director: Don Hahn
2017 / 58 min / USA

The Gamble House is the incredible story of brothers Charles and Henry Greene who were pushed by their forceful father into a career in architecture only to design and build the most seminal and stunning Arts & Crafts house in America. The house, however, did not come without its price, both personally and professionally, for the Greene brothers, and for David and Mary Gamble who commissioned it. It’s a tale of American craftsmanship, international influence, artistic frustration, loss and triumph, which led to the completion of one of the shining examples of American architecture, known to fans of Back to the Future as Doc Brown’s house, and fans of architecture simply as The Gamble House.

Getting Frank Gehry
2015 / 59 min / Australia
Director: Sally Aitken

The University of Technology, Sydney’s new business school, is Frank Gehry’s daring ‘Treehouse project’, otherwise known as the ‘crumpled brown paper bag’ to its critics. At first sight, the school will almost certainly shock anyone not already familiar with Gehry’s work elsewhere around the world. Designed to be radical inside and out, the building is sure to provoke conflicts for decades, and yet is highly likely to be hailed as a masterpiece of early 21st century architecture, just as so many of his other creations have already been.

The film follows the drama as Gehry’s vision for this commission is realized. Through the construction of this building, we examine his challenging work over a period of 40 years. Four key phases of creativity, epitomized by four great buildings, The Gehry House, The Vitra Museum, The Guggenheim Bilbao and MIT’s Stata Centre, chart the evolution of ideas over a lifetime of controversy to play out on the downtown Sydney construction site. Drawing on a life’s work defined by controversial and ground-breaking ideas, the world’s greatest architect has inaugurated his first Australian building – and debate still rages over whether it is eyesore or icon.

Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place
Opening Night Film & US Premier
2017 / 65 min / Australia
Director: Catherine Hunter

Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place is a documentary that explores the life and work of Australia’s most internationally recognized architect. Murcutt, 2002 Pritzker Prize Winner, allowed filmmaker Catherine Hunter to follow him for nearly a decade as he undertook a rare public commission – a new mosque for an Islamic community in Melbourne. The strikingly contemporary building without minarets or domes, is designed to be physically and psychologically inclusive. The film documents the growing acceptance of the design while interweaving the stories behind his most famous houses, interviews with those involved, as well as an intimate portrait of Murcutt’s life and a personal tragedy that almost brought his career to a premature end.

Integral Man
US Premiere
2016 / 62 min / Canada
Director: Joseph Clement

After Euclid, Toronto’s Jim Stewart is the most published mathematician in the world. Stewart spent a decade and a small fortune building the home of his dreams to reflect his two obsessions: curves and music. The completed home, called Integral House, provides him with both. A stunning architectural gem of subtly curved wood and vast, evocative spaces, the house stands in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood and is considered by many one of the city’s best performance spaces. Stewart took joy in hosting his trademark musical evenings with world-class guests, including the likes of Grammy Award–nominated Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, featured in the film. Landscape designer and artist Joseph Clement’s debut film is an impressive work of art in its own right, with its masterful combination of beautiful soundscapes and gorgeous architectural details. It ultimately delivers a finely crafted portrait of Stewart and his beloved home.

Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect
2017 / 81 min / Ireland
Director: Mark Noonan

Still working at age 95, Pritzker Prize winning Irish-American architect Kevin Roche is an enigma. He’s reached the top of his profession, but has little interest in celebrity and eschews the label “Starchitect.” Despite a lifetime of acclaimed work that includes the Ford Foundation, Oakland Museum of California and 40 years designing new galleries for The Met in New York, he has no intention of ever retiring and keeps looking forward. Roche’s architectural philosophy focuses on creating “a community for a modern society” and he has been credited with creating green buildings before they became part of the public consciousness.

The Neue Nationalgalerie
NY Premiere
2017 / 49 min / Germany
Director: Ina Weisse

The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is an epoch-defining structure by architect Mies van der Rohe opened in 1968, shortly after his death. Nearly 50 years later, director Ina Weisse sets out to examine the period during which this unique edifice was constructed. In numerous interviews including those with her father and architect Rolf Weisse (who used to work in the offices of van der Rohe in Chicago), Mies van der Rohe’s grandchild Dirk Lohan, architect David Chipperfield (who has been commissioned to renovate the building), and others, Ina Weisse explores the question of how the Neue Nationalgalerie came into existence, and what sort of worldview is brought to expression by van der Rohe’s building.

2016 / 75 min / USA
Director: Tomas Koolhaas

Architecture is usually filmed from the outside, as an inanimate object. The few depictions of interiors are usually limited to still or static images of an empty building, reducing it to no more than an icon or sculpture. ‘REM’ uses an unconventional approach by combining the human stories and experience of both the architect and the users of his architecture. The film explores Rem’s life, working methods, philosophy and internal landscape, from a never seen perspective of intimacy and immediacy. The result is having the feeling of being ‘inside’ his head. This perspective allows the viewer to understand Rem’s ideas in a way they couldn’t otherwise. These ideas are not merely explained as intellectual concepts but the viewer also sees these ideas in practice – the reality on the ground. They see how these ideas come to fruition in concrete and metal. The film shows how these structures, some massive and some small -dotted all around the globe- affect every aspect of the lives of the people that build them, use them and live inside them.

World Premiere
2017 / 67 min / Italy
Director: Francesca Molteni

SuperDesign is a new documentary by Francesca Molteni (Director of Amare Gio Ponti & Where Architects Live) about Italian Radical Design, which took place in the 1960’s and 1970’s as a response to the tumultuous political climate in Italy. The movement sparked when progressive groups congregated together to express their political ideologies. Through the words and stories of people who were part of the movement, the film retraces the history and heritage of that time period, presenting interviews with pioneering designers including Gaetano Pesce, Ugo La Pietra and Alessandro Mendini, and rare sever-before-seen archival footage.

Zaha Hadid: An Architectural Legacy
2017 / 27 min / UK
Director: Jim Stephenson & Laura Mark

One year after Zaha Hadid died, this film takes a look at Zaha’s career and legacy through five chapters and buildings which signalled significant progressions in her work.  The film takes us from her initial drawings and paintings while at the Architectural Association to her first built project at Vitra, then on to the Stirling Prize-winning MAXXI which secured her place in the architectural canon, then to the London Aquatics Centre – a building which made her known among the public – and finally finishing with the Maths Gallery at the Science Museum, completed just months after her death.

Featuring interviews with those who knew her including long-time collaborator Patrik Schumacher, architects Eva Jiricna and Nigel Coates, urbanist Ricky Burdett and engineer Hanif Kara, the film gives thoughtful insight into the impact Zaha had on the architectural profession.