24 October 2019

Mind the gap

“Mind the Gap.” In other words, watch out for the gap between the train and the platform, as announced in city stations all over the world, London first and foremost. The phrase has been adopted by the Milano Design Film Festival, for its seventh edition (from 24th to 27th October), and is the prism through which to watch the 50+ films on the programme. It is a fair warning to observe what creates a gap between present and future, between natural and artificial. Memory gaps, gaps in awareness and ethical gaps that create times of great upheaval. Not just for pointing a finger at the failings and risks of contemporary society, but also to celebrate the activities and the people who operate in that gap and live in the knowledge that they provide a bridge.

The common thread is design and architecture, narrated by documentaries that explore not just the biographies of great men and women or discuss the historic and current evolution of cities, but also that of artificial intelligence and Made in Italy. They have been split into sections, including the Art of Thinking, which perhaps more openly than the others, includes deeper social documentaries and stories transversally related to design. After all, what makes a film a design film? Alice Rawsthorn, Guest Curator of MDFF 2019, poses this question, which she answers with a collection of nine different films. Her selection also includes a Buster Keaton film and great films by leading filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni and Alain Resnais, amongst others.

Consolidating incursions into the landscape world, MDFF has launched Bloom this year, a spin-off devoted to green design, curated by Antonio Perazzi, landscape artist, writer and botanist. Here too, the films offer glimpses of unique stories, lives and projects. They show that tradition and taking care of the land, art and botany, tending to one’s own garden, design and wellness are all different definitions of the same concept, i.e. the safeguarding of the environment and civilisation.

More than twenty of the scheduled documentaries will be competing for the very first AFA – Architecture Film Award. The aim of the award, conferred in partnership with the Milan Association of Architects, Urban Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservation Architects, is to select films focusing on the different dimensions of architecture – city, landscape, private projects and so on – in order to incentivise the production of cinematic works devoted to design as a communication tool for architects. The panel of judges, chaired by filmmaker and lecturer Maurizio Nichetti, will be tasked with assigning the prizes in two different categories: Architecture’s Film and Studio’s Film.

The opening evening will focus on design, and will feature the Italian premiere of Heinz Bütler’s Chair Times. A History of Seating. Made in collaboration with the Vitra Design Museum, the film narrates the evolution of industrial design, and the protagonists and avant-garde movements that forged the history of design, through Rolf Fehlbaum’s collection of chairs.

Guests will include not just a large number of filmmakers, but also Michele De Lucchi (who will be giving a lecture), Mario Botta (there will be a screening of a film devoted to him), Giulio Ceppi (who will recount his experience of teaching in Italian prisons), Umberto Zanetti and Alessandro De Magistris. 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the twinning of the cities of Milan and Shanghai and the MDFF will be taking part in the festivities with a panel and a selection of screenings that tell the stories of the two cities, their differences and what they have in common. Professor Shaonong

Wei, Dean of the School of Design of the East China Normal University di Shanghai, will be among the guests.

Lastly, the concluding evening event on 27th October will feature Peter Greenaway, who will present The Missing Nail. A Vision by Peter Greenaway for Cassina on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It is a video production harnessing both fact and fiction, focused on a strange hole in the famous work, invisible to most of us.

A packed programme, perfect for a long autumn weekend.

Milano Design Film Festival

24 - 27 October

Anteo Palazzo del Cinema
Piazza XXV Aprile 8, Milan

Fondazione Ordine degli Architetti
via Solferino 19, Milan


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