Film Program: Highlights from the Architecture and Design Film Festival

Now in its fifth year, the Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF)—the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit of architecture and design—opens each October in New York at Tribeca Cinemas and travels to Los Angeles and Chicago. The five-day program includes a diverse lineup of over 25 films from around the world, from short shorts to feature length, accompanied by lively discussions with filmmakers, architects, designers, and other industry leaders. The GSD will feature a selection of films with discussion by GSD faculty and invited guests. Organized in collaboration with Kyle Bergman, AIA, founder of the Architecture and Design Film Festival.


Wednesday 1/29 at 6:30pm

Introductory remarks by Kyle Bergman, festival director

“If You Build It” (77 mins.) Directed by Patrick Creadon, 2012  

7:50pm Kyle Bergman (ADFF) and John Connell (Yestermorrow Design Build School) discuss “If You Build It”

8:10pm “Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio” (60 mins.) Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas, 2010 


Thursday 1/30 at 6:30pm   

Introductory remarks by Kyle Bergman, festival director

“My Brooklyn” (77 mins.) Directed by Kelly Anderson, 2010

7:50 pm Kyle Bergman (ADFF) and Daniel D’Oca (GSD) discuss “My Brooklyn”

8:10pm “Pool Party” (75 mins.) Directed by Beth Aala, 2010


If You Build It    2012 / 77min

 From the director of Wordplay and I.O.U.S.A. comes a captivating look at a radically innovative approach to education. If You Build It follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows thirteen teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible. 

Directed by Patrick Creadon and produced by Christine O’Malley and Neal Baer, the film offers a compelling and hopeful vision for a new kind of classroom in which students learn the tools to design their own futures.

Citizen Architect – Samuel Mockbee And The Spirit Of The Rural Studio   2010 / 60min

Hale County, Alabama is home to some of the most impoverished communities in the United States of America. It is also home to Auburn University’s Rural Studio, one of the most prolific and inspirational design-build outreach programs ever established. Citizen Architect is a documentary film chronicling the late Samuel Mockbee, artist, architect, educator and founder of the Rural Studio. Citizen Architect explores Mockbee’s effort to provide students with an experience that forever inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities. Revealing the philosophy and heart behind the Rural Studio, the documentary is guided by passionate, frank and never-before-seen interviews with Mockbee himself. The film follows, Jay Sanders, a young, first-time instructor at the Rural Studio as he leads a group of students in the process of crafting a home for their charismatic client, Jimmie Lee Matthews. Known within the community as Music Man because of his passion for soul music, Jimmie Lee maintains a healthy zeal for life, blasting R&B from his vast collection of used stereos and boasting that he “ain’t never met a stranger!” Over the course of the project a powerful bond forms between Sanders, the students and Music Man. Citizen Architect supplements Mockbee’s words and the students’ experiences with perspective from other architects and designers who share praise and criticism of the Rural Studio, including Peter Eisenman, Michael Rotondi, Cameron Sinclair, Steve Badanes and Hank Louis. Their dialogue infuses the film with a larger discussion of architecture’s role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, social change and citizenship. The film follows up with Music Man, Sanders, his students and other Rural Studio graduates to see how the program has affected their lives. Through scenes with architects such as Hank Louis of Design/Build Bluff in Utah and Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity, Citizen Architect captures the ripple effect that the Rural Studio continues to have throughout the profession. Above all else, this film offers a dialogue about what it means to be both a successful professional and a responsible member of society.

My Brooklyn   2012 / 75min

My Brooklyn follows Director Kelly Anderson’s journey to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood. The film produced by Allison Lirish Dean, documents the makeover of downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall, a bustling and profitable African-American and Caribbean commercial district that is nonetheless viewed by the city, the media, and its new residents, as a failure. As a hundred small businesses are displaced to make way for luxury condos and chain retail, Anderson uncovers the people and policies that drive seemingly natural neighborhood change. The film’s ultimate question becomes, who has a right to live in the city and determine its future?

Pool Party   2010 / 75min

Pool Party is the surprising story of an abandoned swimming pool, the largest in New York City that became the most significant music venue since CBGB’s. Both an indie music showcase and an urban history lesson, Pool Party traces the process of gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn through the story of McCarren Pool. 
McCarren Pool opened during the Great Depression in 1936 – one of eleven public pools envisioned by New York’s first Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses. The largest of its kind, McCarren is the size of a football field, with the capacity to hold a staggering 6800 bathers. Built on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, one of the most diverse corners of Brooklyn, McCarren is the only Depression era pool no longer functioning today. 
With a changing neighborhood and hard economic times, McCarren closed in 1983 and quickly became a haven for gangs, junkies, graffiti artists and the homeless. During that time, Williamsburg was a dangerous community but offered cheap rent to artists who could no longer afford Manhattan. Much like the histories of TriBeCa, SoHo, and the East Village, this migration of artists brought life, art and music into the neighborhood eventually making Williamsburg one of the most vibrant places to live in the world. 
Abandoned for nearly 25 years, in a now gentrified neighborhood boasting an international music scene, McCarren hosted some of the most beloved music acts for three short summers. Weaving stories of neighborhood residents with never-before-seen archival footage of the New York public pools, the transformation of Williamsburg and McCarren Pool easily translates to gentrified neighborhoods all over the world. Featuring music and performances by Aesop Rock, the Beastie Boys, Black Lips, the Breeders, Deerhunter, The Hold Steady, the Liars, Les Savy Fav, Matt and Kim, MIA, Sonic Youth, Tall Firs, the Ting Tings, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Yo La Tengo, we chronicle the colorful history of McCarren Pool as we celebrate this unique music venue during its final season.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office two weeks in advance at 617 496 2414 or [email protected]

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].