ArchFilmFest London 2017


Architecture and film are interlocked: both unfold narrative ideas through space and time, taking us to real and virtual worlds; both start with the imagination, and then take on their own reality. Films are set in cities, landscapes and buildings where architecture is a visual shorthand, telling us about characters and plot in an instant, yet a dedicated festival that brings architecture and film together has never before been held in this country.


The ArchFilmFest London is a biennial festival that celebrates architectural film through screenings, installations, symposia, workshops and an international film competition. The inaugural ArchFilmFest runs from the 6th to 11th of June and will take place between two London venues, the ICA and the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf. Each festival year will involve a new international partner and a specific central theme. This year ‘Scale’ is the theme and Chile the partnering country, whose ArqFilmFest in Santiago de Chile will bring a Latin American perspective to the dialogue.

Architecture and film is a big subject, and for the launch of the festival, we will be showing how broad the range can be while still defining a clear territory. In the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, a raw warehouse by the Thames, there will be sixty hours of screening time a day, with documentaries, features, films made by architects, pieces by artists using algorithms to morph architecture, animation, drone footage, virtual reality and the winning pieces submitted for our international competition. Julien Temple is showing his series of city films, Requiem for Detroit?, London: The Modern Babylon and Rio 50 Degrees: Carry on CaRIOca. Iconem, a French group, use drone footage to record architecture at risk in conflict zones, including Palmyra and Afghanistan. Factum Arte has created a three-dimensional fly-through of Piranesi’s Carceri and scanned the tombs of Tutankhamun and Seti I in the Valley of the Kings and from the data are making full-scale facsimiles, indistinguishable from the originals. Martha Fiennes shows her mesmeric Nativity, a unique digital painting that continually renews itself, while Sophie Fiennes shows her epic portrait of Kiefer’s architectural gesamtkunstwerk in Barjac. The Bartlett will be working with virtual reality. There are forgotten films and silent films like Metropolis or The Golem with sets designed by expressionist architect Hans Poelzig. We have used the theme ‘Scale’in selecting features that play throughout the festival, moving from The Room, (e.g. Lift to the Scaffold, Rear Window), The Set, (The Truman Show, Dogville), The Tower (e.g. Gomorrah, High-Rise), The City, (Los Angeles Plays Itself, The Knack and How to Get it, Playtime) and the ultimate, grandiose and god-like: The Planet (Inception, Koyaanisqatsi). Many of the films shown will be UK or world premieres, with their directors present. Symposia will focus on live dialogues between architects and filmmakers engaged in the shared exploration of their subjects. A café and bar will allow chance encounters and perhaps future collaborations between the curious and like-minded.

What is an ‘Architectural Film’?

  • Documentaries about architecture / the city
  • Documentaries about architects
  • Architects speaking / talking heads
  • Films made by architects
  • Films where architecture / the city / set design plays a significant, central or pivotal role
  • Films that use iconic architecture in a significant way
  • ‘Art’ or animated pieces with direct use of architecture / architectural elements

Manuel Toledo and Charlotte Skene-Catling are co-founders and co-directors of ArchFilmFest London. They work with a team of London-based architects and film makers to produce exhibitions, events and the screening program.

Visit the festival website at www.archfilmfest.uk