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Columbus, directed by Kogonada | Courtesy of Superlative Films © Elisha Christian
Columbus, directed by Kogonada | Courtesy of Superlative Films © Elisha Christian
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A Guide to NYC's Architecture & Design Film Festival 2017

Picture of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 2 October 2017

Every year, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) returns to its New York City home base for a five-day schedule of more than 30 screenings and five U.S. premieres. Here’s what not to miss at ADFF:NY 2017.

The Neue Nationalgalerie (2017)

This NY premiere is an exploration of the Neue Nationalgalerie (an “epoch-defining” structure designed by architect Mies van der Rohe) and how it came into existence in 1968. Director Ina Wiesse interviews Rohe’s grandchild, architect David Chipperfield (who has been commissioned to renovate the building), and others to examine how the edifice came into existence.

 The Neue Nationalgalerie | Courtesy of ADFF


In its world debut, this new documentary from Italian director Francesca Molteni is centered on the Italian Radical Design movement, which took place in the ’60s and ’70s. The film, according to ADFF, “retraces the history and heritage of that time period, presenting interviews with pioneering designers, including Gaetano Pesce, Ugo La Pietra and Alessandro Mendini, and rare sever-before-seen archival footage.” R & Company’s exhibition, entitled SUPERDESIGN, a survey of Italian Radical Design from 1965–1975, will follow the screening.


Columbus (2017)

In his directorial debut, Kogonada’s Columbus is the ADFF’s first-ever inclusion of a narrative film. Set in Columbus, Indiana, the film focuses on Jin, the son of a renowned architectural scholar, and his burgeoning relationship with architecture-enthusiast Casey, who works at the local library. Together, they explore both the modernist architecture of the town and their own “conflicted emotions.”

Columbus, starring Haley Lu Richardson | Courtesy of Superlative Films, Depth of Field © Elisha Christian

Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place (2017)

Filmmaker Catherine Hunter followed Pritzker Prize-winning architect Glenn Murcutt for nearly a decade as he undertook the design of a new mosque in Melbourne, Australia. Hunter uses this public, “physically and psychologically inclusive” project as an anchor to explore Murcutt’s personal life and career in an intimate portrait of the internationally recognized architect.

Glenn Murcutt – Magney house, Bingie 2 | Courtesy of ADFF © Anthony Browell

Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres (2016)

In this U.S. premiere, award-winning director Sarah Howitt “tells the story of Maggie’s, [their] approach to cancer care, and the role that great design plays in the caner support [they] offer.” The film includes interviews with Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, and Richard Rogers. For more information on the life of Maggie Keswick Jencks and her astonishing life’s work, check out this feature by Culture Trip’s art editor, Rachel Gould.

Building Hope: Maggie’s Centres | Courtesy of ADFF © Raf Makda | © Raf Makda, August 2003

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016)

In three suspenseful actsCitizen Jane: Battle for the City gives audiences a front row seat” for the battle between journalist Jane Jacobs and New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses, in their prospective (unorthodox) attempts to influence city planning and urban development. This documentary, directed by Matt Tyrnauer, is a must-see for New Yorkers and all those interested in the “unexpectedly high-stakes” of NYC’s development in the mid-20th century.

Citizen Jane | Courtesy of ADFF

DRIES (2017)

Fashion designer Dries Van Noten allows director Reiner Holzemer to accompany him in his creative journey and personal life in this new documentary from Germany. The film follows the “cult” fashion designer as he conceives four collections, which ultimately make a huge splash at Paris Fashion Week.

DRIES film still | Courtesy of ADFF

Integral Man (2016)

This film explores the breathtaking masterpiece that is Jim Stewart’s Integral House. Inspired by calculus and music, emerging director and established landscape-designer Joseph Clement explores Stewart’s curved wood and glass structure in a quiet, powerfully moving documentary.

Integral Man | Courtesy of ADFF

REM (2016)

REM uses an “unconventional approach by combining the human stories and experience of both the architect [Rem Koolhaas] and the users of his architecture,” in an attempt to get viewers “inside his head” and allow them to understand his creative process, working methods, and philosophy. Not merely explained as intellectual concepts, the film (directed by Tomas Koolhaas) allows viewers to see Rem’s ideas in practice.


Ticket sales for all films begin October 4. General admission tickets is $16.50. For a full schedule and list of films, click here.