British Columbia

Architecture film festival comes to Vancouver, highlighting social issues and design

A film festival focusing on architecture and design is making its Canadian debut in Vancouver, B.C. this week, in a series of events that delve into everything from social issues to esthetic tastes.

‘Housing is being treated as a commodity rather than a human right,’ says festival founder

While many of the featured films are not directly related to the Vancouver, the relevance to issues of housing and affordability are strong. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A film festival focusing on architecture and design is making its Canadian debut in Vancouver, B.C. this week, in a series of events that delve into everything from social issues to esthetic tastes.

Kyle Bergman founded the Architecture & Design Film Festival in New York a decade ago and, since then, it has made the rounds in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. This is the first year it comes to Canada. 

"Vancouver fits it because it's a beautiful place — it's a great film city and it's really a design capital also," Bergman said. 

While many of the featured films are not directly related to the Lower Mainland, the relevance of the topics is not hard to spot. 

Push, by award-winning Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten, looks at the housing crisis and why people around the world can't afford to live in their own cities anymore. 

"Housing is being treated as a commodity rather than a human right," Bergman told CBC's host of On The Coast Gloria Macarenko. 

He compared it to other commodities like gold.  

"Gold is a commodity and that's fine. Not everyone has to have gold but we all need housing. It's a really fascinating film that brings up a lot of conversation."  

The screening is followed by a panel discussion, in collaboration with the Vancouver Urbanarium Society.

Watch the trailer for Push:

"As architects and designers, we talk to ourselves all the time and it's super interesting. But we're not so good at expanding that conversation," Bergman said. 

Anne Pearson, co-producer of the festival and a Vancouver-based architect, is one of the people involved in expanding the conversation. 

"There's such a thirst for design films in the city," Pearson said.

She highlighted one of the films, City Dreamers, which focuses on four trail-blazing female architects — Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander and Denise Scott Brown— who transformed city landscapes over the past seven decades. 

Watch the trailer for City Dreamers:

"They've all had these incredibly long careers as architects and it hasn't always been easy," Pearson said. 

"They've come out as such champions of urbanism and architecture and design."

The Architecture and Design Film Festival runs in Vancouver from Thursday, Nov. 7 to Sunday, Nov. 10. 

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