Milano Design Film Festival at Beijing Design Week

Three must-see films screening at the Beijing Design Week film fest

This year, Beijing Design Week includes a selection of design- and architecture-related films. Here are our top three picks

The City Dark

Ian Cheney, USA 2011
Ian Cheney’s documentary is a thoughtful examination of the way in which modern urban life – and the unavoidable light pollution it brings – has affected our relationship with the stars above us. The City Dark feels personal and considerate in a way that many issue documentaries don’t, even if it does have some of the drawbacks common to the genre such as an invasive soundtrack and unnecessary animations. Overall, however, this is an interesting and unpretentious film that definitely deserves a look.

Eames: the Architect and the Painter

Bill Jersey and Jason Cohn, USA 2011
It’s hard to think of any American designers more famous than Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife team behind countless mid-20th-century products including their instantly recognisable plywood furniture. So it’s only natural that a selection of films for a design festival would include this mostly adulatory documentary about the couple. While celebrating the design work, the film doesn’t shy away from addressing their thornier personal relationship.The documentary also gives us a chance to see some mostly obscure film work they did for companies like IBM as well as rare interviews with the two of them.

The Human Scale

Andreas Dalsgaard, Denmark/USA 2012
The Human Scale takes a look at the buildings and streets of the cities around us. The documentary focuses on many different countries, including China , in presenting the views of Danish architect Jan Gehl, whose arguments will be familiar to anyone who’s read the journalist and activist Jane Jacobs. In a nutshell, Gehl and director Andreas Dalsgaard advocate creating more ‘human-centric’ cities, built around public space and pedestrian accessibility rather than privatised, closed-off areas. The negative effects of urban space up on residents feel a bit overstated, and the film is dry in parts, but its message is ultimately uplifting. It’s finding hope in the possibility that we can remake the urban environment to better suit the people living in it.

AFL Milano Design Film Festival at Beijing Design Week will take place from Thursday 25 September to Tuesday 30 September at Taikoo Li South. See bldw.org for the latest information on times, films and more.
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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