09 June 2015

Cathedrals of Culture: the film festival inspired by Wim Wenders

The "Cathedrals of Culture" film festival promoted by Mirage begins on the 10th June at the Anteo Spazio Cinema in Milan.
Cathedrals of Culture is an original project by Wim Wenders which gives a voice to six key buildings of human history, featured for the first time in their day to day existence.
The documentary series bestows these buildings with the gift of speech: what would architectonic structures from different cities say, if they could talk?
Six acclaimed directors have been assigned the task of highlighting the peculiarities of six buildings, architectonic icons of outstanding artistic and social value, from the Berlin Philharmonie to the Russian National Library and Halden Prison.
Six interpretations, six viewpoints which aim to investigate the relationship between culture and architecture, based on continuous exchanges and reciprocal connections: two realms, one indissoluble and fascinating link.
Architecture becomes a collector of life movements which immerse the spectator in the heart of great architectonic works. Buildings described on the big screen are transformed into material manifestations of human action and the utopia of beauty, precious treasure troves of our collective memory.

The project is scheduled to take place over three evenings at the Spazio Cinema Anteo, Milan.
Wednesday 10 June
"Cathedrals of Culture" in 3D part 1
Episode 1: The Berlin Philarmonie, directed by Wim Wenders
Episode 2: The Russian National Library, directed by Michael Glawogger

Wednesday 24th June
"Cathedrals of Culture" part 2
Episode 3: Halden Prison, directed by Michael Madsen
Episode 4: The Salk Institute, directed by Robert Redford

Wednesday 15th July
"Cathedrals of Culture" part 3
Episode 5: Oslo Opera House, directed by Margreth Olin
Episode 6: Centre Pompidou, directed by Karim Aïnouz

Directed by Wim Wenders
During the early 60s, two neighbouring structures, the Berlin Philarmonie and the Berlin Wall, provided contrasting visions of the future: one of inclusion and possibilities, the other of exclusion and fear. Fifty years later, only the legendary Berlin Philarmonie by Hans Scharoun has stood the test of time. Located in the cultural heart of Berlin, Potsdamer Platz, the Philarmonie constitutes a spectacular icon of modernity and idealism. In Wim Wender's Berlin Philarmonie, we become familiar with the building through the eyes of many of its inhabitants, each with a profound connection to the building. We listen to orchestra rehearsals in the central concert hall, where Scharoun radically reinvented the stage, daringly placing it at the centre of the auditorium. Debussy's "Jeux" is the perfect sound track to the Philarmonie's sophisticated design.

Directed by Michael Glawogger
Since opening in 1814, the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg, designed by Yegor Sokolov, has witnessed a large part of this country's tumultuous history. Its walls safeguard a realm of beliefs which pre-date it, tendered to by the library's staff, mostly women; the sound of their heels pierce the silence of its increasingly empty halls. In Michael Glawogger's Russian National Library, the library's voice consists of extracts of its most important literary works. Outside the library walls lies a world increasingly dependent upon invisible clouds of data used to conserve knowledge and where libraries, bookshops and shelves are slowly disappearing. The Russian National Library is a powerful reminder of the fleeting beauty of books, their refuges and guardians.

Directed by Michael Madsen
The Halden Prison in Norway, designed by the Danish architecture studio EMA, has been defined as "the most humane prison in the world" by Time Magazine. Since opening in 2010, it has hosted some of Norway's most dangerous criminals. But can its bar-less windows with panoramic views of natural Norwegian landscapes help habitual criminals? Is it possible for a prison to be truly "humane"? Traditionally, prisons have been designed as places of punishment, spaces where society's tolerance disappears. However Michael Madsen's Halden Prison demonstrates how this institution inverts this trend in an imitation of "normal life". Fluctuating shots are used as elements of contrast against the violence of prisoners. Madsen explores the borders between human ideals of rehabilitation and society's historic thirst for revenge and punishment.

Directed by Robert Redford
In 1959 the famous virologist Jonas Salk asked the architect Louis Kahn to bring to life his dream of a new type of research institute: a place, where according to him, Picasso would feel at home. He imagined a "monastery" on the Californian coast where scientists could work in harmony with nature, free from distractions from the outside world. This developed into a unique collaboration between two of the twentieth centuries most original minds. Robert Redford's Salk Institute tells the story of Kahn's last project as a modern masterpiece, a story of a love of corners. In contemplating the building, the film inspires a more ample reflection on the existential quality of spaces. Can a building's soul influence and inspire those who work inside it, enable them to achieve important results? With Moby playing in the background, the film is a meditative portrait of a monumental place and an inspiring homage to two timeless souls united by a common faith in design as a tool at the service of mankind's highest ideals.

Directed by Margreth Olin
In 2008, the Snøhetta studio erected a new and elegant building along Oslo's tumultuous shore in the city centre. The Oslo Opera House theatre, home to the Norwegian ballet and opera company, emerges from the fjord, attracting visitors with its apparently infinite marble roof and refined interiors. The building's breathtaking design softens spatial divisions between interiors and exteriors, resulting in a unique blend of relaxation, leisure and high culture. Margreth Olin's Oslo Opera House documents the thousands of feet which walk over the snow white roof and the hundreds of professionals beneath the roof - artists and personnel- who strive to bestow those above them with a "higher sense" of life. The building's design, as Olin herself reveals in the film, is an incarnation of the symbiosis between art and life.

Directed by Karim Aïnouz
The Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in 1977, is both a democratic promise and a playful utopia which provides a wide range of cultural choices to all kinds of visitors. Much like an airport which quivers under the excitement of passengers departing on their travels, the Centre pulsates under the anticipation of visitors waiting to view the art galleries, archives libraries, entertainment venues, cinemas, restaurant and panoramic platform. Karim Aïnouz's Centre Pompidou imagines a day in the life of this iconic Parisian structure, moving along the glass galleries of its futuristic escalators, pausing to take in the incredible panoramic views of Paris, its vast collections of modern art and to explore its secret rooms. Pompidou is like an enormous magnet in the city centre and the film captures its lure on different visitors: local and foreign, new and habitual.