City Visions: A season of films, talks and debates exploring modern cities around the world Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre, UK Box Office 0845 120 7527

Thu 25 Sep - Wed 8 Oct 2014

Urban life and modern cities across the globe are richly depicted in City Visions (25 September to 8 October), a season of films, talks and debates that both celebrates the freedoms and energy of the city and reveals memorable images of urban decay and deprivation. The season will engage with key conversations around architecture, urban planning and globalisation at a time when urban growth is at its most explosive (50% of the earth’s population lives in urban centres; a figure that is predicted to rise to over 75% by 2050 as rural workers flock to cities around the world). Running alongside the gallery exhibition Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age in the Art Gallery, (25 September 2014 - 11 January 2015) the City Visions film season is also a natural progression from last year’s autumn film season Urban Wandering, which focused on the London landscape.


The season opens with a special preview screening of Cathedrals of Culture the new six part 3D film project directed by Wim Wenders, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Robert Redford, Margreth Olin and Karim Aïnouz which offers startling different responses to the question: “if buildings could talk, what would they say about us?”. The featured buildings are Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin, Germany (Wenders); National Library of Russia, St Petersburg, Russia (Glawogger); Halden Prison, Halden, Norway (Madsen); The Salk Institute, California, USA (Redford); Opera House, Oslo, Norway (Olin); and Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (Ainoux).

In tribute to the late Michael Glawogger, who sadly died earlier this year, City Visions and the Austrian Cultural Forum will present his extraordinary portrait of people living in four gigantic urban agglomerations: Megacities – Twelve Stories of Survival.

On Friday 26 September in collaboration with Battle of Ideas Satellites, writer and historian Leo Hollis, urban designer Alastair Donald and others will discuss the various lures and perils of the urban experience in the live debate: Are Cities Good for Us?  On Saturday 4 October, a panel discussion about gender and the city will follow a screening of Mikio Naruse’s Tokyo masterpiece When a Woman Ascends the Stairs.

Many film screenings will feature special guest introductions and ScreenTalks: Footsteps in Jerusalem, the homage to David Perlov’s landmark 1963 film in Jerusalem will be followed by a ScreenTalk with Jerusalem born chefs and restaurateurs, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and film scholar Yael Friedman while Cairo Drive (Best Film from the Arab World – Documentary competition – Abu Dhabai Film Festival 2013) will be followed by a ScreenTalk with filmmaker Sherief Elkatsha and Dr Alisa Lebow. Producer Sarah Arruda will introduce, demonstrate and discuss Kat Cizek’s award-winning interactive project Highrise  and the Architecture Foundation will present a ScreenTalk following Heinz Emigholz’ most recent essay: The Airstrip-Decampment of Modernism, Part III.

Introductions include: journalist and playwright Bonnie Greer talking about Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, released 25 years ago and internationally acclaimed author Amit Chaudhuri will introduce The Big City, Satyajit Ray’s panoramic portrait of metropolitan life in 1950’s Calcutta.

Detroit-based journalist Rose Hackman will introduce Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia; Istanbul based journalist Constanze Letsch will introduce Ekumenopolis: City Without Limits; and London based architectural and design journalist Herbert Wright will introduce Ecopolis China.

Staying East, Jia Zhangke’s bloody and bitter film A Touch of Sin builds a portrait of a rapidly expanding China, while in People’s Park Libbie D. Cohn takes us on a single-shot journey through a bustling urban park in Chengdu city.

In Lagos Wide and Close – An Interactive Journey Into An Exploding City architect Rem Koolhaas and filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak study the Nigerian megalopolis in an attempt to understand the hidden logic that makes a ‘dysfunctional’ city work.

Filmmaker and author Richard Misek will introduce his documentary Rohmer in Paris about the director’s lifelong relationship with the world’s most cinematic city, Paris. The season will also include a screening of Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon as well as Jean Luc Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine.

Author Richard Martin will introduce David Lynch’s anxiety drenched, LA based Mulholland Drive, while the 10th Anniversary of Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (recut and remastered) weaves together clips from hundreds of movies to build a fascinating argument about how Hollywood has represented – or misrepresented – LA.

On Saturday 4 October City Visions will celebrate New York with a programme including Jem Cohen NYC Films featuring 30-years of the renowned music video-maker filming NY; Woody Allen’s love-letter to the city Manhattan plus the 1921 silent short Manhatta based on a poem by Walt Whitman depicting a day in New York City from dawn until dusk, and Robert Flaherty’s The Twenty Four Dollar Island which observes the docks and architecture of Manhattan in 1927.

On the afternoon and evening of Sunday 5 October, three events will be presented in partnership with the Embassy of Brazil in London. Ana Araújo will introduce Precise Poetry/Lina Bo Bardi’s Architecture which looks at the Bardi’s projects in São Paulo and Salvador da Bahia; at 4pm for the first time in the UK, 85 years after its release City Visions will present São Paulo, A Metropolitan Symphony with live piano accompaniment by Clélia Iruzan and in the evening a panel discussion on the impact of Brazilian architecture worldwide will follow a screening of Fabiano Maciel’s Oscar Neimeyer – Life is a Breath of Fresh Air.

Audiences will have a chance to vote for their favourite city film and see it screened at the Barbican on Saturday 27 September as part of the season. In partnership with Guardian Cities the evening will also include the winning 3-minute films made by readers from cities around the world. Guardian Cities will launch callouts for both the favourite film vote and the readers' city film competition at the end of July.

The programme will also feature the 1920s cycle of silent films known as City Symphonies, the first of which Berlin, Symphony of the City will be introduced by film critic Ian Christie and accompanied live by Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne. The second and third Symphonies: Man with a Movie Camera (dir: Dziga Vertov, USSR 1929) (accompanied by Paul Robinson’s HarmonieBand) and Études sur Paris (André Sauvage, France 1928) (accompanied by Prima Vista Quartet devised and composed by Baudin Jam) will screen later in the autumn on 26 October and 9 November respectively, after the season has closed.