Celebrate the best in films on architecture and design at eleven screening events, featuring 13 films, including discussions with dynamic filmmakers, architects and design experts, plus five receptions hosted by Denver’s favorite eateries, retail stores and galleries.

Films will screen on Thursdays at 7pm ($25 DFS members/20 non-members, including receptions), Fridays at 4:30pm ($12/$10), and Saturdays at 2pm ($12/10) during the first three weeks of the series, with final screenings at 7pm on Thursday, Sept. 27 and Friday, Sept. 28 ($25/20, including receptions).

Series Passes ($90 members/$110 non-member) are also available.

Each week brings a new focus: Modern Week (Sept. 6-8); Global Reach Week (Sept. 13-15), Icons Revisited Week (Sept. 20-22) and Sustainability Week (Sept. 27-28) with a special closing event in conjunction with the US Passive House Conference.

For tickets and more information, please visit www.denverfilm.org.

Ten films in the Series are
Colorado premieres!


Colorado Premiere!

Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island

Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2012, Director Jake Gorst, 85 minutes)

Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island explores the work of the region’s best postwar architects and designers, including Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison, Herbert Beckhard, Frank Lloyd Wright, Horace Gifford, Edward Durrell Stone, Marcel Breuer, Andrew Geller, Philip Johnson, John Hejduk, Charles Gwathmey, Barbara and Julian Neski and others. The film features interviews with architects and historians, as well as the friends, families and clients of these influential designers. Both rare archival material and gorgeous current-day cinematography highlight Long Island’s often underappreciated modernist architectural treasures. “Long Island has a rich heritage of midcentury modern architecture,” says Gorst. “Sadly, much of it has disappeared because of redevelopment and natural disaster. We believe the film will foster renewed awareness and appreciation for Long Island’s remaining modernist structures and its unique architectural history.”

Reception to follow at Mod Livin, 5327 E Colfax

Colorado Premiere!

Coast Modern

Friday, Sept. 7 @ 4:30pm @Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2011, Directors Michael Bernard and Gavin Froome, 55 minutes)

Filmmakers Michael Bernard and Gavin Froome will take us on a journey from Los Angeles to Vancouver; from 1922 up to the present exploring modernist architecture on the West Coast. A core group of architects embraced the Coast with its particular geography and values and they have left behind a legacy of beautiful and inspired dwellings. Today, architects have picked up the thread and they continue to explore and celebrate the principles established by their predecessors. Intimate interviews and unprecedented access to architects in the film include Barry Downs (Vancouver), Fred Bassetti (Seattle), Hernik Bull (Berkeley), Ray Kappe (LA), Michael Folonis (Santa Monica), Dion Neutra (Los Angeles) -son and partner of Modernist pioneer Richard Neutra, Barbara Bestor (LA) and others. They will all share their insight into the Modernist Movement, and its relevance in our lives today.

Colorado Premiere!

The Gruen Effect: Victor Gruen and the Shopping Mall

Saturday, Sept. 8 at 2pm @Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2009, Directors Anette Baldauf and Katharina Weingartner, 50 minutes)

In The Gruen Effect, an architect’s life, work, and critical humor become a means to make sense of the cities we live in today. The Viennese architect Victor Gruen is considered the father of the shopping mall. His ideas about urban planning, both influential and abused, have led to cities that serve the new gods of consumption. By tracing Gruen’s path from prewar Vienna to 1950s’ America and back to Europe in 1968, the documentary explores the themes and mistranslations that have come to define urban life.

GLOBAL REACH WEEK (from Cuba to Japan to Italy): Sept. 13-15

Unfinished Spaces

Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2011, Directors Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, 86 minutes, Spanish and English with English subtitles)

In Unfinished Spaces, Cuba’s ambitious National Art Schools project, designed by three young artists in the wake of Castro’s Revolution, is neglected, nearly forgotten, and ultimately rediscovered as a visionary architectural masterpiece. In 1961, Castro commissioned three young architects to create a bold new project. Forty years later, the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying, as the exiled architects return to finish their unrealized dream. The film also features intimate footage of Fidel Castro, showing his devotion to creating a worldwide showcase for art.

Reception to follow

Kochuu: Japanese Architecture/Influence and Origin

Friday, Sept. 14 at 4:30pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2006, Directed by Jesper Wachtmeister, 53 minutes)

KOCHUU is a visually stunning film about modern Japanese architecture, its roots in the Japanese tradition, and its impact on the Nordic building tradition. Winding its way through visions of the future and traditional concepts, nature and concrete, gardens and high-tech spaces, the film explains how contemporary Japanese architects strive to unite the ways of modern man with the old philosophies in astounding constructions. KOCHUU, which translates as “in the jar,” refers to the Japanese tradition of constructing small, enclosed physical spaces, which create the impression of a separate universe. The film illustrates key components of traditional Japanese architecture, such as reducing the distinction between outdoors and indoors, disrupting the symmetrical, building with wooden posts and beams rather than with walls, modular construction techniques, and its symbiotic relationship with water, light and nature. The film illustrates these concepts through remarkable views of the Imperial Katsura Palace, the Todai-Ji Temple, the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, the Sony Tower, numerous teahouses and gardens (see link below for complete list), as well as examples of the cross-fertilization evidenced in buildings throughout Scandinavia, and shows how ‘invisible’ Japanese traditions are evident even in modern, high-tech buildings


Saturday, Sept. 15 at 2pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

Colorado Premiere!

The Architecture of Carlo Scarpa

(1996, Director Murray Grigor, 57 mins, Italian and English, not subtitled)
Revived in High-Defintion for the first time ever!

Venetian-born Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) was radical in his approach to remodeling historic buildings, showing tremendous confidence in combining the achievements of the past with the invention of his own design. Nothing seems simpler: historical buildings must be restored since they are a part of our heritage. And yet there are dangers – both in the theme-park approach to architectural heritage and in excessive reverence for an imagined historical authenticity. Although Carlo Scarpa was born in Venice, a city teeming with historical buildings, he has always been radical in his approach to remodeling old buildings, confidently combining the achievements of the past with the innovations of his own contemporary designs. He revels in juxtaposing rare materials against common, rough against smooth, and celebrates the difference between the functional and the luxurious. Looking at the Castelvecchio in Verona, or the Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, the visitor is struck by the harmonious fusion of past and present. This balance stems from Scarpa’s sensitivity to architectural form and natural light, his attention to detail and his use of high quality traditional Venetian craftwork. His new buildings reflect all of these qualities, particularly the Brion Memorial in San Vito d’Altivole in Itlay, one of the great enigmas of Modern architecture

Colorado Premiere!

Unfinished Italy

(2011, Director Benoit Felici, 34 mins, Italian with English subtitles)

Italy, home of ruins: A foray into the unfinished, Italy’s most prominent architectural style between the end of WWII and the present day. Buildings in a limbo between perfection and nothingness, given up on halfway through their construction, fallen into ruin before they were ever used, are an integral part of the Italian architectural landscape: Stadiums without audiences, hospitals without patients, theatres that after 50 years have not yet seen their premiere.
This is a study of the potential value of unfinished buildings in Italy and of man’s ability to adapt them to his everyday needs. These ruins, whose future has already passed and whose present carries the taste of an eternal wait, act as an invitation to meditate about time.


Colorado Premiere!

Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line

Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2012, Directors Muffie Dunn & Tom Piper, 57 minutes)

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has long been at the forefront of design. The interdisciplinary design firm first stirred interest with its provocative exhibitions of theoretically based projects that blurred the boundaries between art and architecture. In 1999, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, the firm’s founding principals, were awarded the prestigious “genius” grant by the MacArthur Foundation, in recognition of their commitment to integrating architecture with issues of contemporary culture. With the almost simultaneous completion of two large-scale projects in New York City — the renovation of the High Line and revitalization and expansion of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts — Diller Scofidio + Renfro has galvanized the public’s attention. Between 2004 and 2011, the firm, in collaboration with James Corner Field Operations, converted the derelict High Line railroad tracks on the city’s West Side (from Gansevoort to 30th streets) into a sophisticated 1.5 mile elevated urban park.
In this 54-minute documentary, intelligent commentary from the architects is complemented by remarkable cinematography and interviews with New York City planning commissioner Amanda Burden and other civic figures. Critics and theorists Mark Wigley, Anthony Vidler, and Mr. Filler, offer insights into the firm’s history, previous completed projects, and their unique process of reimagining the public identities of two major New York urban spaces.

Reception to follow

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

Friday, Sept. 21 at 4:30pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2011, Director Chad Freidrichs, 83 minutes)

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. It began as a housing marvel. Built in 1956, Pruitt-Igoe was heralded as the model public housing project of the future, “the poor man’s penthouse.” Two decades later, it ended in rubble – its razing an iconic event that the architectural theorist Charles Jencks famously called the death of modernism. The footage and images of its implosion have helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, a failure that has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight. To examine the interests involved in Pruitt-Igoe’s creation. To re-evaluate the rumors and the stigma. To implode the myth.

Colorado Premiere!

Mission Statements: The Architecture of Dutch Diplomacy

Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2011, Director Jord Den Hollander, 77 minutes, Dutch with English subtitles)

In 1991 the Netherlands Foreign Ministry decided to promote Dutch architecture abroad. All over the world prominent Dutch architects, including Rem Koolhaas, Bjarne Mastenbroek and Dick van Gamere, Lafour & Wijk and Claus and Kaan, designed new embassies. The buildings not only reflected the originality of Dutch architecture, but were also meant to represent the modern approach of Dutch diplomacy. International critics rewarded this new mission architecture with both praise and prizes. Then, after 20 years, the project was stopped for economic and political reasons. Mission Statements tells the story of four of the most striking new embassies: Suriname, Germany, Mozambique and Ethiopia. The film presents a candid view behind the curtains of daily embassy life as well as humorous insights into the gap between intent and execution in both diplomacy and architecture.


Colorado Premiere!


Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7pm Denver FilmCenter Colfax

(2012, Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 91 minutes)

Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century— the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.

Reception to follow at Ignite!, 2124 Larimer St.



Friday, Sept. 28 at 7pm @ Denver FilmCenter Colfax

Colorado Premiere!

Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life

(2011, Directors Stephen R. Kellert and Bill Finnegan, 60 minutes)

Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development. Come on a journey from our evolutionary past and the origins of architecture to the world’s most celebrated buildings in a search for the architecture of life. Together, we will encounter buildings that connect people and nature – hospitals where patients heal faster, schools where children’s test scores are higher, offices where workers are more productive, and communities where people know more of their neighbors and families thrive. Biophilic Design points the way toward creating healthy and productive habitats for modern humans.

Reception to follow at Denver Art Gallery


Colorado Premiere!

Passive Passion

(2011, Director Charlie Hoxie, 21 minutes)

Passive Passion is a 21-minute documentary on the Passive House design method – an approach that combines heavy insulation, airtightness, and heat-recovery ventilation to achieve reductions of up to 90% in the energy required for heating and cooling. Considering the fact that buildings contribute as much as 40% of our country’s carbon emissions, and half of that is for heating and cooling, savings of this magnitude could have considerable implications for our warming planet. Henry Gifford is a NYC-based building scientist who designs heating systems for some of the most efficient apartment houses in the country, and his dream is to erect a Passive House apartment building in the United States. But this is no pie-in-in-the-sky scheme – over 20,000 Passive House dwellings have been built in Europe, and those include multifamily dwellings, office buildings, and schools. This introduction to a unique and promising style of building examines the extent to which European builders have taken the concept, and the vast ground American Passive House enthusiasts have to make up. It remains something of a fringe movement in the United States, but can the Passive House method change the way we build?
Reception to follow conjunction with the US Passive House Conference