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Architecture Film Festival: Raw concrete on the big screen

From confrontational brutalism to the flowing lines of Frank Gehry and from timeless London to the Paris of Eric Rohmer. Some of the selections from the Architecture film festival that starts on 8 October in Rotterdam. We dive into the programme in advance.

In its existence, the AFFR has held its own against other thematically oriented film festivals. At first glance, you would expect architecture to provide a limited cinematic offering. However, the programmers manage to surprise every edition with a varied choice of docu and feature films.

This year's show features fairly conventional but solid portraits of star architects Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. More enjoyable are the films that focus on the relationship between people and buildings. Take Abel Ferarra's Chelsea on the rocks: an homage to the iconic and eccentric Chelsea hotel where the New York underground congregated and where you could have an audience with Andy Warhol or William Burroughs.

Another delightful portrait of the relationship between residents and a brutalist housing complex is Barbicania. Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoin use the same dry-comic style of their documentary for the film House Life and focus their camera on special people and their connection to London's Barbican Estate. From Julien Temple, known for Absolute Beginners and his documentaries on punk, is London, the modern Babylon in which he intimately portrays the British metropolis through found-footage footage.

Besides docu's, a remarkable feature film has also been selected. As an American in France, director Eugène Green has built up a lauded body of work that has rarely been seen in the Netherlands. Now there is the rather unique opportunity to see his latest creation La Sapienza to be admired. The film revolves around an architect who falls under the spell of Francesco Borromini's Baroque buildings.

And then there is mandatory viewing for cinephiles. Rohmer in Paris is the cinematic love letter Brit Richard Misek made about nouvelle vague director Eric Rohmer and the French city of lights. It is a beautiful essay film composed of fragments of his oeuvre and provided with very personal commentary by Misek. In the process, the city of Paris recurs in the films as a kind of character.

AFFR takes place from 7 to 11 October at Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam. For the complete programme visit affr.co.uk

George Vermij

George Vermij is a cultural omnivore with a curious and critical eye. He studied art history and political science in Leiden and has an incurable film addiction. Besides Cultuurpers, he writes about film for Schokkend Nieuws, Gonzo Circus and In de bioscoop. For Tubelight, Metropolis M and Jegens & Tevens he writes about visual art.View Author posts

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