Seidler, Murcutt, Utzon and an android: the ArchiFlix Architecture and Design Film Festival

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"Harry Seidler – Modernist" is a retrospective of the life and work of one of the architects who brought mainstream modernism to Australia.

“Harry Seidler – Modernist” is a retrospective of the life and work of one of the architects who brought mainstream modernism to Australia. Image: Courtesy ArchiFlix, Sally Darling

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The story of the construction of the Sydney Opera House is told in "The Dream of Perfection."

The story of the construction of the Sydney Opera House is told in “The Dream of Perfection.” Image: Courtesy ArchiFlix, Sally Darling

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Filmmaker Catherine Hunter follows the usually press-shy Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate in "Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place."

Filmmaker Catherine Hunter follows the usually press-shy Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate in “Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place.” Image: Anthony Browell

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The inaugural ArchiFlix Architecture and Design Film Festival opens in Sydney in May with a four-day-long celebration of architecture and design through film that is timed to coincide with the 2017 National Architecture Conference. A second instalment of the festival will take place in Melbourne in October, with satellite events planned for Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. 

ArchiFlix began as a series of one-night only film screenings, which ArchiFlix director Sally Darling says were “so well attended, and the number of available films [of] such good quality, that it made sense to expand the program to a festival format.”

Aimed primarily at industry professionals, the program of 12 films features a range of documentaries on the careers and practice of some of the most prominent architects to work in Australia, including Harry Seidler, Glenn Murcutt and Jørn Utzon.

The work of international architects I. M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry are also explored in documentaries which will screen during the festival.

The festival also contains films that look at architecture more broadly, including a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis – the science-fiction classic set in a stylized, expressionist underground city.

Director and writer Lawrence Johnston’s Neon documents the journey of neon lighting from Jazz Age Paris to the “Neon boneyard” in Las Vegas.

Visual Acoustics, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, is a look at the life of architectural photographer Julius Shulman, who is known for capturing the modernist movement of Southern California on film.

Then there’s The Architect: a Jonathan Parker-directed romantic comedy about a couple who engage an architect to build their dream home – but discover the architect is instead designs his own.

An expert panel of judges from different disciplines will assess each film for its “intellectual and visual content, communication value, and the overall impact of the film for its intended audience,” awarding a judge’s award at the end of the festival to the most exemplary film. The panel includes architectural photographer John Gollings, the Australian Institute of Architects national president Ken Maher, editor Jan Henderson and film and television producer, director and writer (and festival co-founder) Ron V. Brown.

The ArchiFlix Architecture and Design Festival runs from 4 to 7 May at the Sydney Maritime Museum Theatre. Tickets are available at the ArchiFlix website.

ArchiFlix Architecture and Design Film Festival highlights:

Harry Seidler - Modernist – Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Daryl Dellora, this retrospective of Seidler’s architectural career is a portrayal of the life and work of one of the architects who brought mainstream modernism to Australia.

The Dream of Perfection – In 1968 Autopsy of a Dream, a documentary depicting the troubled construction of the Sydney Opera House under architect Jørn Utzon was commissioned by then-BBC2 comptroller David Attenborough. Immediately after its only airing in the United Kingdom, the tapes were destroyed. Considered lost, a silent copy of the film was rediscovered in 2013 and the sound restored by director John Weiley. The Dream of Perfection is a special edition of the film that features a prologue detailing the story of the film itself, and features interviews with David Attenborough, Jørn Utzon’s children Jan and Lin Utzon, and writer Richard Neville.

 Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place – Filmmaker Catherine Hunter follows the usually press-shy Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Glenn Murcutt as he embarks on the development of the Australian Islamic Centre of Newport.


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