Since it was established in 2009, the Architecture & Design Film Festival has not only survived, it has thrived. The brainchild of architect and film enthusiast Kyle Bergman, it began as a well-attended event held at a small design-build school in Vermont. Now, it is the premier annual showcase for the latest cinematic works devoted to the issues, personalities, and controversies roiling the global design community.
ADFF events are now held in Los Angeles, Washington DC, New Orleans, and Athens, Greece, but the marquee program is still held in New York. This year, the program, which starts today and ends October 21 is a special celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary.
Like in past years, the 2018 NY ADFF (co-sponsored by Architectural Record) features a robust slate of features and shorts—33 in all—led by the opening night screening of Leaning Out, Basia and Leonard Myszynski’s profile of World Trade Center structural engineer Leslie Robertson. In a way, the film sets the tone for a festival that leans heavily on documentary portraits of architects and designers including Frank Gehry (Frank Gehry: Building Justice), 2018 Pritzker Prize-winner Balkrishna Doshi (Doshi), Renzo Piano (Renzo Piano: The Architect of Light), Jan Kaplicky (Eye Over Prague) Dieter Rams (Rams), and Albert Frey (Frey: Part 1 — The Architectural Envoy )
Many of this year's films are just as compelling as cinematic works as they are notable entries into the genre of architecture and design documentary. One highlight is Haruna Honcoop’s experimental work, Built to Last – Relics of Communist-Era Architecture. Structured around 10 vignettes, the film interrogates Soviet-style construction — museums, monuments, housing projects, communist party headquarters, hotels — in eastern Europe, presenting a compelling cinematic companion piece to MoMA’s current exhibition exploring Yugoslavian architecture. And then there's The Experimental City, Chad Freidrichs’ follow up to his exceptional 2011 documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. His new film continues to mine mid-century American urban planning, moving from public housing breakdowns to the failure of the the Minnesota Experimental City, a delirious post-war dream of future living.
By design, the ADFF has provoked passionate conversation over its decade-long history — and there will be plenty of between-screenings discourse this year, as well. There are features that explore civic gamification (Gaming the Real World), the changing dynamic between architecture and society (Do More With Less), international design principles (Enough White Teacups, Design Canada), and even the legacy of Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exhibition of 1929 (Mies On Scene: Barcelona in Two Acts).
Held at the Cinépolis Chelsea and SVA Theater, this year’s program is filled with compelling films that offer numerous points of entry regardless of viewers’ interest in architecture and design. It's also an opportunity to celebrate the evolution of an upstart gathering of architecture and design aficionados into a vital, necessary, and anticipated showcase for the documentary and design communities. A decade on, it wouldn't be Archtober without the Architecture & Design Film Festival.
Visit the Architecture & Design Film Festival website for screening times and more information about the ADFF NY 2018 and the festival’s other events