For its sixth season, the Architecture & Design Film Festival is bringing more than 30 curated films to New York’s Tribeca Cinemas from October 15-19.
One of the most anticipated elements of the festival is the U.S. premiere of Cathedrals of Culture, a 3D film project by Wim Wenders. The question at the heart of the project is: if building could talk, what would they say about us? Cathedrals of Culture offers six different responses, telling a narrative from the perspective of six landmark buildings. The festival will present the films in pairs of three curated programs, accompanied by director Q&As and discussions about architecture as a mirror for society.
In the film, six iconic, manmade structures are given the opportunity to observe rather than be observed. The film features the Berlin Philharmonic; the National Library of Russia; Halden Prison, the world’s most humane prison; the Salk Institute, an institute for breakthrough science; the Oslo Opera House; and the Centre Pompidou.
Six directors were called upon to collaborate on the project, and tasked
with selecting their landmark and telling its story in a way that would
exercise the potential of 3D fimmaking while offering a compelling narrative. “The incredible gain for documentaries is a heightened immersion that puts the viewer like never before ‘into a place’ and allows him or her to perceive architecture, for instance, as a real spatial experience,” Wenders said.
Directed by Robert Redford, the Salk Institute portion of the film meditates on architect Louis Kahn’s masterpiece. “The building itself is very Euclidean, it’s very geometric,” explained Redford. “I wanted to try this because the 3D experience could help to enhance the romanticizing of those angles.” Set to the music of Moby, the film urges a larger conversation about the existential qualities of a space.
Photo by Alex Falk
Directed by Margreth Olin, the Oslo Opera House segment documents the thousand of feet crossing the building’s roof each day and the hundreds of professionals below. “I think that 3D has an emotional aspect and I was interested in exploring it in a different way than I have seen before,” said Olin. In the film, the camera focuses on people, on their faces and bodies, and on their relation to the building rather than on the building itself.
Photo by Oystein Mamen
Wim Wenders’ segment on the Berlin Philharmonic takes an intimate look at the first concert hall where the stage was placed at the center of the auditorium. Fifty years later after its original placement next to the Berlin Wall, the building still stands. “Even today, it is still adventurous, modern, shockingly beautiful—a true icon of modernity,” says Wenders.
Photo by Wim Wenders
Director Karim Aïnouz selected the Centre Pompidou as his character. Architecturally, this building—designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in 1977— has an exposed structure that gives viewers the sensation of floating through the body of the building. But it is the Parisian landmark’s striking similarity to an airport that drives the narrative of Centre Pompidou.
Photo by Ali Olcay Gozkaya
Norway’s Halden Prison, designed by Danish architectural firm EMA and Norwegian firm HLM, was described as “the world’s most humane prison” by TIME Magazine. Michael Madsen segment on the Halden Prison demonstrates the paradox of a building that is meant to contain and punish dangerous convicts, yet has barless windows, panoramic views of breathtaking nature, and offers its inhabitants a unique imitation of normalcy. As Madsen explained, “The ideal of architecture is to have no boundaries between the inside and outside […] and a prison has to do the exact opposite.”
Photo by Heikki Farm
In the National Library of Russia, Michael Glawogger allows the library to speak through chosen excerpts of its finest literature. "3D emphasizes on the depth, and I thought the narrower the structure, the bigger the effect would be," explained Glawogger. "It does magical things because you see every little detail; every page of a book has structure.”
Photo by Wolfgang Thaler