The 67th Venice Film Festival opens on Wednesday with The Black Swan, but film fans who are currently in Venice can already enjoy a very special project by director Wim Wenders and SANAA the Japanese architectural firm established in 1995 by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (the acronym stands for ‘Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates’), at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition.
The project consists in a 3D film (one of the first things you will be provided with as soon as you get in the Arsenale is a pair of special glasses to watch Wenders/SANAA’s installation) of SANAA’s Rolex Learning Center on the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne) Campus in Lausanne, Switzerland.
There is actually a bit of a 3D trend at the Biennale this year as we will discover in a later post that will analyse a very inspiring project presented at the Australian Pavilion.
Wenders tried to get lost inside the building and let it speak for itself, creating a short narrative piece.
Indeed “If Buildings Could Talk…” is much more than a film about a building. The images record the life of the Rolex Learning Center from morning till night, showing people meeting in the cafe or jogging around the place, students reading in the library or working on their laptops. Even the architects get a cameo role: Wenders filmed them driving two segways around the building.
The film is really beautiful and poetical, well shot and accompanied by a very moving soundtrack and by a monologue read by the building itself that explains she (it's a female voice) loves books and learnt to speak from the books she preserves in the library.
“I like books, I like readers”, the building whispers, echoing the words of film director Sergei Eisenstein ("Books cling to me. They fly down to me - ran up and attach themselves to me. I have loved them for so long; large and small, thick and thin, rare and cheap editions. They should not be too neat, like suits from the tailors; but they should not be clad in greasy rags. A book should lie in the hand like a well-adjusted tool. I have loved them so much that they have begun to love me back. Books burst open like ripe fruit in my hands and fold back their petals like magic flowers, bearing the seed of thought, a stimulating word, an apt quotation, a useful illustration."), while the camera shows images of the students working in the library.
The main aim of the film is communicating ideas to the viewer: while she speaks, the building turns into an abstract entity that haunts the people passing through her.
Spellbound, a young cleaner sits down at one of the library tables and starts leafing through a book, a lady in an aqua green kimono stops and breathes in as if she were trying to get in touch with the spirit of the building.
Wenders stated in a lecture that took place last Friday that he is interested in the narrative power of buildings and, in many ways, the film made me think about one of those mysterious tales of houses that lived and breathed written by the South American writers who were into magic realism.
I can't show you the film, but I have recorded the audio (see file above), so you can get an idea about the building's monologue. I'm also posting here four clips (part 1 and 3 are 5-minute previews of longer videos, so you will have to install Veoh Video Compass to watch the full video in your browser or download it to your PC) from the SANAA/Wim Wenders lecture that took place last week at the Teatro Piccolo in Venice.
People who are into architecture will be more interested in the first two parts with the SANAA duo describing the building; directors and film fans, check out what Wenders had to say about architecture, film and 3D techniques in the third and fourth part (apologies for the image quality – there are only a few seconds missing between one video and the other...batteries kept on dying for some reason…). Fashion fans, if you think this is not for you, then get a copy of Wim Wenders' film about Yohji Yamamoto Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) and enjoy it.
Watch Wim Wenders and SANAA - If Buildings Could Talk, Part 1 in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Watch Wim Wenders and SANAA in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Watch Wim Wenders and SANAA, part 3 in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
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