Architecture + Design film series returns with eight documentaries | Cinema | Seven days


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  • Courtesy of Neon
  • Always Ailey

The Burlington-based Film series on architecture and design, now in its ninth season, has a singular goal for its three organizers: to share beauty with the community.

The free series consists of eight documentary films selected by architect Andrew Chardain, artist Lynda Reeves McIntyre and Ecological Vermont Floors co-owner Karen Frost. Everyone spends a lot of time searching the Internet for excellent films about people in architecture, design, art, landscape architecture, and the occasional uncategorizable subject. But they all have an indispensable criterion.

“It must be a beautiful movie,” said McIntyre, a former studio art professor at the University of Vermont. Her late husband was Shelburne-based architect Roland Batten, who gave his name to the university’s annual conference on architecture.

“Each of us watches each movie separately,” McIntyre said of the curation process. “Then we give them each a score from 1 to 5.”

Formerly projected at BCA Center, the roughly monthly films were released online in 2020. This year, the first four will be released again, starting Wednesday, September 29, with Ailey. The trio will be reconsidering security protocols and the possibility of restarting in-person screenings in January.

This year’s lineup promises beauty in a number of areas.

Making space: 5 women who are changing the face of architecture is a 2014 documentary directed by Ultan Guilfoyle. It features five successful women architects around the world telling their own stories: Annabelle Selldorf, Farshid Moussavi, Odile Decq, Marianne McKenna and Kathryn Gustafson.

Running fence, a 1977 film directed by documentary pioneers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, documents the making of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 24-and-a-half-mile white fabric fence in California – a project that required convincing 59 herders to cede access to their land.

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  • Courtesy of Normand Maxon
  • Alvin Ailey

The artists form the center of two other films. Roger Sherman’s 1998 “American Masters: Alexander Calder” covers mobiles and other works by the ingenious sculptor. Hilma af Klint, the rediscovered Swedish artist who began making unprecedented large-scale abstract paintings in 1906, is the 2019 subject of Halina Dyrschka Beyond the visual – Hilma af Klint.

All of the films chosen by the organizers meet their criteria for beauty, but one in particular “got a 5 in all of our ratings,” McIntyre said: George Nakashima: cabinetmaker (2020) directed by the artist’s nephew, John Nakashima. At nearly two hours, the film breaks the trio’s preferred limit of 90 minutes, “but there’s no frame that can be changed,” McIntyre said.

The movie is Frost’s favorite.

“When I looked [George Nakashima], my reaction was: That’s all we look for in a documentaryThe film follows the life of the architect and designer, born in Spokane, Washington, in 1905 to immigrant Japanese parents, through his architectural training and spiritual conversion to the beauty of wood in India.

“He’s someone who really works with wood, its imperfections and its beauty, so everything has a lot of character,” Frost said of Nakashima, considered one of the founders of the American craft movement for his designs. of furniture. “His search for meaning and purpose and his intentionality, in combination with his Japanese ancestry – he lived in Japan for a period – [are evident in] the house he lived in, his process, his workshop. But it’s a journey. The film describes how he learns different things over time and how it all comes together in this wood production. It’s a good life.

“Do you know how many architects have these tragic lives?” Frost added. “Like Louis Kahn, there are a lot. Nakashima didn’t have that.”

McIntyre landed the season opener, Ailey (2021), directed by Jamila Wignot, after following its production for years. Documenting the life of the black dancer-choreographer (1931-1989) who founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, it presents a musical score by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the new creative president of Flynn of Burlington.

“We’ve been looking for four years for a dance film that isn’t too long or just for dance fanatics,” said McIntyre, who is also a dancer. “This movie just premiered in New York in August, so [our showing] is a [Burlington] premiere. ”(The Savoy Theater in Montpellier screened the film earlier this month.)

“Even if you don’t like dancing, you will be moved,” McIntyre continued. “It follows Ailey’s life from [being] a young boy from Texas brought his life to church to move north with his mother to experience dancing. It has become his means of expression. His work is rooted in ballet. ‘Revelations’ [choreographed by Ailey in 1959] is still one of the strongest and most powerful pieces in the Black experience.

“For me this is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen,” McIntyre said of Ailey. “That doesn’t make him a god; it reveals the sources of this man’s creativity, his vision, as he created these plays that continue to be performed.”

Chardain called his top pick this year – Illumination, a 2021 film by Eric Bricker on Airstream trailers – “a little personal”. That’s because the architect, who works at Birdseye in Richmond, recently moved with his partner out of their home and into a 2018 Airstream.

The film traces the life of Wally Byam (1896-1962), the creator of the iconic product in the 1930s, and his take on what the Airstream could mean to American culture. “It introduced this freedom of mobility – this ability to go out and see the world in a way that you couldn’t before,” Chardain explained.

The film contains original footage from events organized by Byam: tours led by huge Airstreams caravans through deserts and jungles to destinations such as Mexico City. Since then, the uses of trailers have only multiplied: Airstreams are ephemeral cafes, mobile offices, vehicles for a minimalist life and more.

“A lot of the beauty of the movie really lies in the design of the Airstream itself,” Chardain said. “You can see the early models, the mid-size models, the newer ones. The old ones were so light that you could pull them with an ordinary car; these days you need a truck. People collect and refurbish old ones ”- including a friend of his who recently bought a 1969 model.

“We were able to compare the old and the new, and the equipment [in the old model] were nicer than the house I lived in, ”Chardain noted.

The organizers had a reason to place Illumination at the end of the film series on April 13, Chardain said, “When you are in spring, you head to summer, [we like to show] movies that give you the energy to get out there and have the adventure – maybe even revisit some of those dreams you put on hold. ”


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