Architecture

The Power of Utopia – Living with Le Corbusier in Chandigarh
Thomas Karrer and Karin Bucher
Switzerland
85′
Shortly after the Partition of India and liberation from British colonial rule, a new capital for the Punjab was to be built from scratch at the foot of the Himalayas, with the former capital of Lahore having become part of Pakistan. The planned city of Chandigarh would stand for the new democracy, progress and faith in the future. Architects from the West were called upon – first Albert Mayer, and then the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Plans, visions and utopias came together. For Le Corbusier, Chandigarh offered a unique opportunity to complete his life’s work and put his urban planning ideas into practice. His vision was to create a modern, humane and just city, built according to the “measure of man”, which allowed for a cultural life and harmonious interaction between people and nature. On the 70th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s planned city, we reflect on whether this vision has become a reality in Chandigarh. The film accompanies people on their journeys through the city, seeking out settings and scenes that reveal the inspiring interplay of old dreams and new life, the utopian and the everyday, decay and quiet poetry. A contemporary witness recalls the early days of the city. The director of the Le Corbusier Centre, an artist, an actor and an architect all talk about the experience of settling here, and contemplate their life in and with Chandigarh. We meet residents who offer an insight into the city as we roam and immerse ourselves in the everyday life that has evolved around the built environment.
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Antoni Gaudí
Une ville à Chandigarh (1965)
Alain Tanner
India
53′
When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the 1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already numbered some 120,000. Among the most modern of cities architecturally, Chandigarh was archaically constructed by hand. Impressions of this green horizontal city-brick not permitting vertical development-are captured in long static shots and numerous traveling shots. John Berger's commentary inscribes the visual beauty of that reality within a larger reflection: climate did strongly influence the decisions of the planners, whereas the new city did not succeed in breaking the old social rules with a single blow. These rules continue to determine the level of education and income, and it is not even possible for these workers who are in the process of constructing Chandigarh to live in it themselves. However, the film partakes of Le Corbusier's optimism in its appreciation of architecture as an instrument aiding men to clarify their visions, to exercise their powers of discernment and to establish new relations, even if the results will only make themselves felt in the long term.
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Le Corbusier
with bonus
Medianeras
Gustavo Taretto
Argentina
90′
Mariana, Martìn and the city of Buenos Aires. Martìn and Mariana live across from each other on the same block, but never meet. They pass each other, not knowing about the other’s existence. She goes up the stairs as he goes down the stairs; he gets on the bus just as she gets off the bus. They go to the same video rental shop, but a video rack separates them; they sit in the same row at the cinema, but the auditorium is dark. The city brings them together, and, at the same time, keeps them apart. Director Gustavo Taretto told the story of Mariana, Martìn and the city of Buenos Aires once before: «MEDIANERAS is a short film that received 40 awards worldwide - a short film with a feature film hidden inside. Our aim is to bring the feature to light. In the film EL SOL DEL MEMBRILLO (QUINCE TREE OF THE SUN), Víctor Erice reflects, among other things, upon Antonio López’s obsession with painting a tree that he had planted and seen growing in his garden. The tree changes with the passing of time, the seasons, and especially in different shades of light. MEDIANERAS is my tree. I planted it over four years ago, and I’ve been watching it grow since then. Following the analogy with the painting, the short film unveils the gesture in the stroke, the artist’s palette, the trunk which holds it in place, the main branches and the colour of its leaves. Now, with the feature, the moment has arrived for going into detail, for exploring depth and hues, ambiguities and contradictions. The story changes in exactly the same way as the city that serves as its setting: Buenos Aires. Some of the scenes wither away, while others bloom.» (Gustavo Taretto)
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Behind the facades of a big city
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Richard Linklater
United States
110′
When architect-turned-recluse Bernadette Fox goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica, her 15-year-old daughter Bee goes on a quest with Bernadette's husband to find her.
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No Man Is an Island
Dominique Marchais
France
96′
No Man Is an Island travels across Europe, from the farmers working together in the Galline Felici cooperative in Sicily to the architects, craftspersons and elected representatives who collaborate in the Swiss Alps and in Austria. All are engaged in politics through their work and all believe in a common destiny. Is the local level the last possible place for a viable utopia?
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Gion A. Caminada
Architektur der Unendlichkeit
Christoph Schaub
Switzerland
85′
Temporality and age are inherent in every object and creature and, depending on one’s outlook, may transcend to infinity. Schaub explores, together with the architects Peter Zumthor, Peter Märkli and Alvaro Siza Vieira, the artists James Turrell and Cristina Iglesias and drummer virtuoso Jojo Mayer, the magic of sacred spaces, defined here as far more than church buildings. Who owns spirituality?
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Peter Zumthor, Cristina Iglesias, Jojo Mayer, Alvaro Siza Vieira, Peter Märkli and James Turrell
Sekuritas
Carmen Stadler
Switzerland
117′
Before an office complex is set to be demolished, it expresses one last wish: a love story. It centers around desire, security, and a melody that runs through the entire fabric of the building. So when darkness descends and everything falls silent, the routine lives of those within its walls sparkle like stars, paving the way for intimate chance encounters and absurd humor to unfold. A nocturnal kaleidoscope of longing, loneliness and freedom.
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Factory architecture says goodbye
Durak
Juri Bykow
Russia
121′
Dima Nikitin is a simple and honest plumber who works in a small Russian town. Except for his unusual integrity, nothing makes him stand out of the crowd, until one night in a dorm mainly occupied by drunkards and outcasts, the pipes burst, endangering the occupants. Everybody needs to be immediately evacuated but nobody cares, so Nikitin sets off on a night-long odyssey to fight an entire system of corrupt bureaucrats.
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Architecture also means: responsibility
White Building
Kavich Neang
Cambodia
90′
Samnang faces the demolition of his lifelong home in Phnom Penh coupled with pressures from family, friends, and neighbours, which all arise and intersect at this moment of sudden change.
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