Last year, my good friend and colleague Antonella Dedini launched the first Milan Design Film Festival. It totally went off, way beyond her – or I suspect any body else’s expectation! Antonella is a trained architect, but when I met her some years ago she was teaching at the very excellent Domus Academy in Milan. In fact, she often sent resumes of her best students for me to consider, one of which became an employee at TP for many years. When the Academy was sold few years ago Antonella saw it as a sign that the time had come to move on. Initially she moved back into private practice, but when she stumbled upon a documentary about architect Louis Kahn she had an epiphany: perhaps her new role on life should be to bring the beauty and complexities of design and architecture to a broader audience via the medium of video and film. she decided her time was up there - so she went back into private practice - a tough transition for a middle aged woman in Italy! But, she then a documentary on an architect (I think the one on Louis Kahn - but this should be a one of our questions) and saw the possibility of bringing important messages about architecture and design, but also life to the public through the medium of architecture and design documentaries.
This year she and her team were prepared for the onslaught on design aficionados; they rented out the Anteo spazioCinema complex right in the heart of the hip Brera area and allocated 18.000 tickets for 4 screening rooms – that is, 660 full seats very hour! I’m thinking how amazing it would be to import this Film Festival to Sydney! In the meantime, here’s a recent email exchange I had with the wonderful Antonella Dedini.
Architecture is such a physical experience, how does it translate onto film; what do we lose, what do we gain in terms of the experience?
Video is the best medium to truly capture architecture. The audiovisual language is empathic, direct, immediate, and helps understand and memorize even more. We opened this edition of the Festival Wim Wenders’ 3D film project Cathedrals of Culture; six extraordinary episodes representing six buildings, cathedrals of culture in fact. In a sense, the film allows them to tell their own stories in the first person.
How is the selection process organized; how do you find all these films?
In this latest edition of the Festival, we selected 73 films from a total of at least 200. We are four curators. With me is my partner Silvia Robertazzi, journalist and design critic Portia Bergamasco and, as guest curator, this year we called the artist Letizia Cariello to bring a poetic regard to the selection. In a little more than a year we have built a network of national and international collaborators, of film makers, producers, festival and universities that help us every day to improve and spread our work around the world. This research is the most beautiful part of the work and now we can boast an excellent archive – and this year we introduced some really exciting new Italian films that we would like to take abroad for the dissemination of our design culture. In creating a relationship between architecture and design it is easier to understand the meaning of our everyday lives.
What kind of people come to what would appear a quite specialized film festival.
We always intended that the Festival was not only aimed at architects, planners, designers and landscapers, but in this latest edition half of the audience was made up of people from these fields. Then there were the people who were simply curious, who found in this visual language an empathetic, effective means to understand what is behind the world of design. We want the Milan Design Film Festival to become a flexible, honest, multiethnic, curious, stimulating and itinerant platform.