HOME’s web editor picks 5 from the architecture film festival

From small footprints to cathedrals of culture.

The Resene Architecture and Design Film Festival opened in Auckland last night, and continues at Rialto Cinemas until May 20, before moving to Wellington’s Embassy Theatre (May 28-June 10), Dunedin’s Rialto Cinemas (June 11-21) and Christchurch’s Academy Gold (June 25-July 8). There are so many great films on offer, we’ve been combing the programme to offer you our picks. Here, HOME’s web editor Rachael Harwood makes her selection.

Maker film

1. Maker

This film tracks the way the online culture of open-source sharing has returned to the offline world in the form of the ‘Maker Movement’ – communities of people who work together to build things with the help of crowd-funding and local manufacturing. All of the best things in my possession were made by the hands of people I know; to see this Maker Movement continue to thrive in the face of so much mass-production is heart-warming.

Nature of Modernism: E. Stewart Williams

2. The Nature of Modernism: E. Stewart Williams

E. Stewart Williams pioneered the mid-century modernist aesthetic of Palm Springs, and it all started when he convinced Frank Sinatra of the benefits of modernism in 1947, instead of the Georgian-style house that he had wanted. I love everything about this period of architecture and design, especially in that Californian setting: the sun, the palm trees, the clean lines and swimming pools; it probably started the first time I saw David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash. 

Neon

3. Neon

Could any art form be more closely linked to its time and place than the way Warsaw was ‘neonized’ in the 1960s and 1970s? The story of these “great illuminated promises” as the programme describes them will be a fascinating look at the relationships between art, history and identity. I’m interested in this relatively little-known feature of Poland’s communist era, and the visuals are stunning, too.

Microtopia

4. Microtopia

Dreams, ideas and prototypes for portable micro-living solutions that aim to solve our planet’s overpopulation are addressed in this timely documentary, which redefines the meaning of ‘home’. I think down-sizing will be one of the most pressing issues for coming generations, requiring a dramatic shift in our cultural values – it will be interesting to see how this film tackles those challenges.

Le Semeur - Architecture and Design Film Festival

5. Le Semeur (The Sower)

This film closely follows Patrice Fortier, an eccentric seed-saver living in Quebec who is passionate about preserving plant biodiversity. The beautifully shot documentary is a glimpse at the intensity of his work and meticulous methods he employs to protect heritage seeds. I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing an Auckland-based seed-saver who impressed me with the diligence with which she preserved some of our local crops; it will be great seeing someone doing that work at this scale.