Tokyo Ride

Like so many other events in 2020, the Architecture and Design Film Festival has gone virtual in response to the global pandemic. ADFF:2020 is set to take place from Nov. 19 to Dec. 3, providing viewers ample opportunity to watch films on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own homes.

The ADFF team has assembled a diverse and exciting program, with a special focus on films that explore social justice issues and the experiences of architects from underrepresented communities. “Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story” is one of the heavy-hitters, portraying Williams’ determination and triumphs as he designed homes in communities where AIA’s first Black member was not allowed to live. ADFF will be offering this film for free during the festival.

Another standout is “Magical Imperfection,” which presents the life story of Raymond Moriyama, a Canadian architect of Japanese descent whose experience in a World War II internment camp inspired him to become an architect and forever influenced his conception of space.

A new French film on Charlotte Perriand is a testament to the creative force that drove her designs, from her time as a young architect working in Le Corbusier’s office to her design of Les Arcs ski resort, and everything in between.

In this time of curtailed travel, the world premiere of “Tokyo Ride” offers a unique escape. The latest offering from acclaimed directors Bêka & Lemoine, the film is presented as a one-day adventure, providing a tour of Tokyo architecture as viewers vicariously drive through the streets in an Alfa Romeo, accompanied by Japanese architect Ryue Nishizawa, a partner at SANAA.

Shot in Copenhagen, “Making a Mountain” examines Bjarke Ingels Group’s innovative design for a power plant that doubles as a ski slope. The project, which Ingels describes as “the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world,” demonstrates the possibilities of what Ingels calls “hedonistic sustainability.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, ADFF has hosted several virtual events. Like the screenings ADFF hosted over the summer, ADFF:2020 will give viewers the chance to get in-depth perspectives from the filmmakers and film subjects through pre-screening introduction segments and post-viewing question and answer sessions. For an enhanced experience, viewers will have the option to watch the films in high resolution through streaming platforms like Apple TV and Roku.

Even after it becomes possible to gather in large numbers again, ADFF will continue to host virtual events given their demonstrated appeal and value. Still, ADFF founder and director Kyle Bergman is eager to get back in theaters. “There’s nothing like going to a big theater and sitting in the dark with a lot of other people,” he says. “It’s like a two-hour vacation, where you forget about everything except for what’s on the screen.”

Although there’s no substitute for the silver screen, virtual events do offer silver linings: “It makes it more democratic in a way,” Bergman says. “Whether you live in Tulsa, Vermont, Texas, or Hawaii, people anywhere across America and Canada can see these films—not just people who happen to be in New York,” or other cities where ADFF used to hold in-person events. Indeed, Bergman predicts that attendance for ADFF:2020 could reach over 30,000 (in comparison to the 22,500 who attended ADFF events last year).

Ticket buyers can choose from more than 16 film programs that will include a combination of features and short films, including AIA Film Challenge entries.

“We are always thankful and amazed how many people put their heart and soul into making films on architecture,” Bergman concludes. “Like architecture itself, making films about architecture is a labor of love. People make these films because they’re committed and passionate, and we’re grateful to all the filmmakers who submit their works of art to us.”