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Urban Studies and Architecture


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Exploring space and design to understand how our built environment reflects history, economy and culture, these films position the urban habitat as the key for understanding social structures and relations.

Urban Studies and Architecture Collection

  • Shipwrecked America
    Shipwrecked America
    Director: Alexandra Kandy Longuet   | Year of production: 2016
    Country of production: Belgium, France | Language: English (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 52 min.

    On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the most violent storm in the history of the United States, ravages New Orleans. The city’s entire population is displaced. In the land of opportunity, the disaster seems to provide an opportunity for a city’s rebirth on a fairer basis. But against all expectations and despite the Obama presidency, the Crescent City turns into a ground zero for imposing economic shock therapy, intensifying drastically the economic, social and racial inequalities that existed before. This is the portrait of a city that became the US laboratory and reveals the divisions of a whole country.

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  • Cathedrals of Culture
    Cathedrals of Culture
    Director: Wim Wenders   Michael Glawogger   Michael Madsen   Robert Redford   Margreth Olin   Karim Ainouz   | Year of production: 2014
    Country of production: Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, USA | Language: English (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 6 x 26 min.

    This 3D film project about the soul of buildings allows six iconic and very different buildings to speak for themselves, examining human life from the unblinking perspective of a manmade structure. Six acclaimed filmmakers bring their own visual style and artistic approach to the project. Buildings, they show us, are material manifestations of human thought and action: the Berlin Philharmonic, the National Library of Russia Halden Prison, the Salk Institute, the Oslo Opera House, and the Centre Pompidou. The series explores how these landmarks reflects our culture and guards our collective memory.

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  • Coast Modern
    Coast Modern
    Director: Mike Bernard   Gavin Froome   | Year of production: 2012
    Country of production: Canada | Language: English (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 55 min.

    Traveling along the Pacific North West coastline from LA to Vancouver, the film showcases the pioneers of West Coast Modernist Architecture, and the homes that have become their legacies.
    Stepping inside the most inspired dwellings on the west coast, we feel how the light and space of a classic Modernist home can work in collaboration with the natural environment, taking us back to the basics of true living – a sense of place, light, and a deep connection to the earth.

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  • DHARAVI Slum for sale
    DHARAVI Slum for sale
    Director: Rob Appleby, Lutz Konermann   | Year of production: 2010
    Country of production: Switzerland | Language: Hindi (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 52/79 min.

    At the heart of the constantly growing megacity Mumbai lies Dharavi, India’s biggest slum. Close to a million immigrants from all over the country live and work here, contributing a vital share to the city’s economy. In this no-man’s land urban planner Mukesh Mehta sees his chance of a lifetime. Dharavi is to be knocked down and its profitable real estate to be turned into billions of Dollars. “Dharavi, Slum for Sale” follows the struggle between tradition and modernity and the fight of the underprivileged to defend their homes and livelihoods against mounting globalisation.

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  • Everything Will Be
    Everything Will Be
    Director: Julia Kwan   | Year of production: 2014
    Country of production: Canada | Language: English, French (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 86 min

    As dawn breaks and most of the city still sleeps, the long-time merchants of Vancouver’s Chinatown are hard at work. They haul out their produce stands and set up their makeshift vendor carts in preparation for what they hope will be a busy day. But, like many ethnic enclaves in urban centres across North America, their clientele is dwindling. This once vibrant and thriving neighbourhood is in flux as new condo developments and non-Chinese businesses move in and gradually overtake the declining hub of the Chinese community.

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  • Fallen City
    Fallen City
    Director: Zhao Qi   | Year of production: 2012
    Country of production: China | Language: Chinese (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 90/63 min.

    The Sichuan earthquake took 90,000 lives and left 5 million people homeless. Beichuan, once a beautiful valley town, was entirely leveled and nearly every family lost a loved one. But the Chinese construction miracle rebuilt a new city in just three years and what began as a journey to overcome loss becomes entangled with dreams of an upgraded life.
    As the survivors emerge from China’s worst natural disaster in decades, they speak for today’s Chinese generation thrust into the nation’s relentless pursuit of progress and violently uprooted from their past.

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  • My Barefoot Friend
    My Barefoot Friend
    Director: Seong-Gyou Lee   | Year of production: 2010
    Country of production: Korea (South) | Language: Hindi (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 82/52 min.

    In Calcutta, 20 thousand feet are running, all barefoot. They are rickshaw pullers, slowly disappearing out of the city’s landscape. For Shallim, his old and tired rickshaw has been his only means of hope. He has run endless miles with it, and plans to save up money to buy an auto rickshaw, to help him better support his family. However, sudden family illness and mounting hospital bills make Shallim’s burden harden than ever before.

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  • Land Grabbing
    Land Grabbing
    Director: Kurt Langbein   | Year of production: 2015
    Country of production: Austria | Language: English, German, Romanian (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 91 mins

    The world’s farmland is at risk. Demand for land has soared as investors look for places to grow food for export, grow crops for biofuels or simply buy up land for profit. The film gives an inside look into the world of investors in the international agro-business and how the politics of the European Union is involved. Land Grabbing doesn’t only happen in Asia and Africa, but also in Romania, which has become known as “Europe’s breadbasket”. LAND GRABBING takes a closer look at what’s happening to land and agriculture in Europe, whilst also challenging investors and their practices.

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  • I Love Venice
    I Love Venice
    Director: Quirine Racké & Helena Muskens   | Year of production: 2013
    Country of production: Netherlands | Language: English (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 71 min.

    Venice attracts 30 million tourists each year and this number is even expected to rise as massive tourism is predicted in the next years from China and India. Everybody wants to see this city of dreams, a fairytale space built on water. As Venice becomes the first city to become a theme park, its inhabitants are fleeing the town. Venice is too expensive to live in, stores predominantly cater to tourists, property is sold to rich foreigners and rents continue to skyrocket. Demographers predict that by 2030 there will not be a single full-time Venetian resident left.

  • Little People Big Dreams
    Little People Big Dreams
    Director: Mak Ck   | Year of production: 2014
    Country of production: Singapore | Language: Chinese (with full English subtitles available)
    Running Time: 89 min.

    A millionaire wanted to create a utopia for little people in China. A land where they could live and work among themselves, away from the discrimination of mainstream society. And so the ‘Dwarves Empire’ was born. This is an unlikely theme park where dozens of little people live and perform for anyone who pays a US$16 entrance fee.
    This observational documentary chronicles the journeys of a few employees at a pivotal point in their lives. Connected by a will to pursue their dreams, these little people take their chances in an uncertain world. ‘Little People Big Dreams’ explores the cost of prejudice and the shades of modern-day morality.

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