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Filtering by Category: Film Night

AIA UK Film Night: The Price of Desire - 25 October 2016

Fiona Mckay

The 2016 Autumn series kicked off with the much anticipated movie The Price of Desire, which we were finally able to get from Munro Films. Many thanks to them for all their assistance.

The Price Of Desire is the controversial story of the bisexual Irish artist Eileen Gray and how her influential contribution to 20th century architecture and design was almost wiped from history by the egotistical ‘Father of Modernism’, Le Corbusier. The film unfolds how her relationship with philanderer Jean Badovici, editor of influential L’Architecture Vivante, and the man who made Le Corbusier famous, further fuelled the rift between the two architects, and consigned her legacy to a century of neglect and long-overdue recognition.

Set substantially on the Côte d’Azur in and around her most abiding work, the villa e1027, The Price of Desire explores the events surrounding Le Corbusier’s eventual erasure of both Gray’s physical ownership of the property, as well as her intellectual property right to be recognised as the architect of her work. A triangular tale of insidious chauvinism, The Price of Desire resonates as a universal female experience while cinematically evoking the essential aesthetic of Eileen Gray. 

VILLA e1027: Eileen Gray designed and built this first-ever modernist house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France in 1926 for her lover, the architectural journalist Jean Badovici. Le Corbusier, the architect he promoted, so effaced and defaced Gray’s moral right to be recognised as the author of her work that her legacy as one of the most influential inspirations of a century of modern architecture and design was consigned to oblivion for almost a century.

After the Second World War, Jean Badovici made some feeble efforts to request that Le Corbusier remove the vandalistic murals he had painted on its plain white walls, and even promised Eileen Gray that he would put the house back into her name. Le Corbusier was having none of it however, and sadly Jean Badovici died intestate, leaving the fate the ownership of the house to the whims of Le Corbusier, who in turn drowned on his daily swim in the Mediterranean below it. Eileen Gray survived them all and was finally made a fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland in recognition of this work in 1995. 

The film was very well received by those in attendance, and the discussion that followed was very lively. We shall be winding up the Autumn & 2016 Film Series with a screening of Koolhaas Houselife at 1900hrs on 22 November at the BFI. 

We look forward to welcoming more of you to that screening, and many thanks to all who have attended our screenings this year!

Author: Christopher Musangi AIA

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Fiona Mckay

This being an Olympic year, we finished the first half of the 2016 Movie series with the screening of ‘Olympia – Festival of Nations’ documentary. This is a historical documentary about the controversial 1936 Olympics, and the very first documentary feature film of the Olympic Games ever made. Many advanced motion picture techniques, which later became industry standards but which were ground-breaking at the time, were employed. The techniques employed are almost universally admired, but the film is controversial due to its political context. The documentary was a slight break from the traditional architecture films we screen, but nevertheless the grand architecture of the Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) built for propaganda purposes is clearly visible, as well as the historical context of early Olympics with no sponsors and amateur athletes to name but a few. The Olympiastadion Berlin has gone through some renovations since, and is still in use today.

Many thanks to all those who attended! We look forward to seeing you at our next screening this Autumn when the movie series resumes!

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The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner

Fiona Mckay

"The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner," a production of CZ Productions, was screened January 4th at the Royal Institute of British Architects. PLP Architecture hosted the event as an office gathering and extended the invitation to the UK Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The documentary film is rich with stunning photography of Lautner's private work, well paced interviews with his contemporary critics, and footage of the Architect recounting his experiences  as a young man and then in Los Angeles, from his arrival in 1938 until his death in 1994. Lautner idealised the verdant and unpopulated Michigan landscapes of his childhood and described bucolic years in Wisconsin and Arizona working with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, where design and living with nature were inseparable. He spoke critically of the Los Angeles urban environment, and in his work he carefully choreographed the occupants' movements and crafted framed views to achieve a near garden of Eden. Lautner was also interested in the use of new materials and their technological potential, putting to use in some cases for achieving an uncompromising design standard at a reasonable budget. His design embodied the spirit of mid century American optimism, belief in the future and in personal satisfaction.

Honoured by the personal attendance of the director, Bette Jane Cohen, who edited the documentary, and her husband and executive-producer, Steven Zeitzew, the evening's screening included a dialogue with with audience. The occasion for the international tour, including MAD Architects in Beijing, SHL in Copenhagen, and the ESAG in Paris, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the film's original production, for which a new addendum to the film was made exploring how some of Lautner's work has endured with time. Bette Cohen has digitally remastered the film, originally shot for 16mm and VHS format.

Bette Cohen described a visit to Lautner's Garcia residence which inspired her to make the film, and a subsequent meeting to propose the idea of a documentary to Lautner himself, who remarked she was "tall enough to take on the responsibility," and agreed to fully collaborate.

The film will soon be released on dvd, and another screening in London is being planned.
Recently the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) made a big announcement: that Goldstein – who purchased Lautner's Sheats house in 1972 – has bequeathed his home, its contents and surrounding estate, which includes a night club and an infinity tennis court, to the museum. The historic gesture marks the first gift of architecture to the LACMA, and includes an endowment for maintenance and preservation of the historic house, gardens and contents, as well as programming.

Goldstein said that the decision to give his home to the museum was a simple one. ‘I wanted to have the house as an inspiration for architects in the future, as an inspiration for people in general in Los Angeles; to try and continue to make Los Angeles more beautiful, and to open it up to the public for many years to come, so that they can see the great work of John Lautner, and see the possibilities in contemporary architecture,’ he explained to an audience of journalists and trustees at the property.

Read more HERE

Author: Karen Cook, PLP Architecture

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Fiona Mckay

The 2016 Movie series started off with the screening of ‘The Small Life of Small Urban Spaces’ documentary. This documentary is about city spaces-- why some work and some do not, and what the practical lessons may be. In 1980, William H. Whyte published the findings from his revolutionary Street Life Project in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Both the book and the accompanying film were instantly labelled classics, and launched a mini-revolution in the planning and study of public spaces. They have since become standard texts, and appear on syllabi and reading lists in urban planning, sociology, environmental design, and architecture departments around the world. Attendance was good, and this first urban planning documentary was very well received. Many thanks to all those who attended!
We look forward to seeing you at our next screening (title to be announced soon), on Wednesday 16th March at 1900hrs.

Author: Chris Musangi

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Fiona Mckay

The Autumn movie series came to a close with the screening of ‘The Socialist, The Architect & The Twisted Tower.’ This is a dramatic, behind-the-scene-story about the building of Santiago Calatrava's 'Turning Torso' in Malmö, a 190 metre high, twisted residential building which was appointed "World’s best residential building project" at Mipim in Cannes, 2005. Filmmaker Fredrik Gertten documents the construction of the visionary Turning Torso public housing structure. In 1999 Johnny Örbäck saw celebrated architect Santiago Calatrava's "Twisting Torso" sculpture and immediately knew what he wanted for the construction of a proposed residential building. Determined to construct a skyscraper based on the same concept, Örbäck contacted Calatrava and convinced him to design the building. This documentary highlights the difficulty in seeing such an ambitious project through to completion. The attendees loved the movie, and we had our longest post-movie discussion to date! Many thanks to all who attended.

The film nights will commence next year on Wednesday 10 February, 1900hrs at the BFI. Please refer to the AIA website early next year for the film we shall be screening. As always we welcome film suggestions you may have, and we look forward to seeing you at our next screening!

Author: Chris Musangi

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Fiona Mckay

We started off the Autumn movie series screening ‘How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?’ This film traces the rise of one of London's and indeed the world’s premier architects, Norman Foster, and his unending quest to improve the quality of life through design.

The title is taken from a question put to him by his hero, American architect Buckminster Fuller, referring to the Sainsbury Centre next to UEA, a quirky question designed to get him and us thinking about the concept of mass in architecture. Portrayed are Foster’s origins and how his dreams and influences inspired the design of projects such as the largest building in the world Beijing Airport, the Reichstag, the Hearst Building in New York and works such as the tallest bridge ever, in Millau France. The attendees loved the movie, unfortunately the weather wasn’t that good on the night of the screening and this seems to have prevented some people who had purchased tickets from attending the screening.

The final movie of year shall be ‘The Socialist, The Architect and the Twisted Tower’ which we shall screen at the BFI on 18 November  at 1900hrs. We look forward to seeing you there!

Author: Chris Musangi 

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