Zaha Hadid’s Mathematics Gallery for the London Science Museum is one of the projects spotlighted in *Zaha: An Architectural Legacy*.
Photo: Luke Hayes

7 Must-See Movies at the Architecture & Design Film Festival

As the annual event returns to New York City on November 1, preview the films generating the most buzz

The largest film festival in the U.S. devoted to architecture and design, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF), heads to New York for its highly-anticipated ninth edition. After clocking stops in Chicago, New Orleans, and Tippet Rise in Fishtail, Montana, the popular event returns to Cinépolis Chelsea—the fair’s New York home base—from November 1 through 5.

The five-day affair features some 40 film screenings—both shorts and feature length—plus the chance to attend Q&As and panel discussions with leading architects, directors, and media types. The venue sports a new look too, thanks to festival director Kyle Bergman who tapped design firm Studio O+A to redesign the space. Among the new additions are a festival bar hosted by Honey’s, a Bushwick-based meadery, and a pop-up bookshop sponsored by Phaidon. A virtual reality feast also awaits courtesy of filmmaker and photographer Gary Hustwit, who is offering guests a chance to experience his latest technology, Scenic VR, between screenings. Below, find Galerie‘s selection of the top seven films to add to your calendar. 


Since its inception in 2010, ADFF has focused exclusively on documentaries and other non-fiction films. But that’s about to change with the debut of Columbus, a movie written and directed by video essayist Kogonada starring John Cho, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, and Haley Lu Richardson. Set against the backdrop of Columbus, Indiana, and its rich trove of mid-century modern buildings, the film finds Jin (Cho) stranded when his academic father falls ill during a speaking tour. Jin strikes up a friendship with a local architecture enthusiast (Richardson), who has her own struggles with a parent.

Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho in front of Columbus, Indiana’s 1964 North Christian Church, designed by Eero Saarinen. Photo: Superlative Films, Depth of Field, Nonetheless Productions


German filmmaker Renier Holzemer gained unprecedented access to celebrated Belgian fashion designer Dries van Noten for this documentary exploring his creative process, including shooting van Noten at his company’s Antwerp headquarters and his own private country estate. The 90-minute film includes original music by Colin Greenwood of the band Radiohead, as well as Matthew Herbert and Sam Petts-Davies.

Iris Apfel is among the fashion icons interviewed in Dries. Photo: Renier Holzemer

Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place

At 80 years old, Glenn Murcutt is Australia’s most famous living architect, having won the industry’s top accolade, the Pritzker Prize, in 2002, as well as the AIA Gold Medal, in 2009. Directed by Catherine Hunter, this hourlong documentary follows the legend as he conjures the long-gestating Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne, which features a kaleidoscopic ceiling with dazzling triangular skylights.

Architect Glenn Murcutt poses at the Islamic Mosque in Melbourne. Photo: Jesse Marlow/Fairfax Media

Made in Ilima

Home to the first conservation school designed by forward-thinking Boston architecture firm MASS Design Group, the remote Conolese village of Ilima is the setting for Made in Ilima, a new documentary by MASS’s advocacy and media producer Thatcher Bean. The film tracks the design and construction of the innovative structure, which puts a sustainable spin on the local vernacular, including a roof made of local wood that collects rainwater and mud bricks reinforced with palm oil.

MASS Design Group’s Ilima Primary School. Photo: MASS Design Group

The Neue Nationalgalerie

One of the final buildings designed by prolific modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), the 1968 Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin has long fascinated art and architecture lovers alike. Now, the daughter of one of Mies’s associates has has created a documentary that explores the enduring impact of the museum, which is currently undergoing a renovation by architect David Chipperfield.

Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, designed by Mies van der Rohe. Photo: Judith Kaufmann/Marcus Winterbauer


Italy’s “Radical” design period, which took place during the revolutionary 1960s and ‘70s, is the subject of this film by Milanese multi-hyphenate Francesca Molteni, best known for running the the Molteni furnishings empire. It features interviews with creative visionaries who were part of the movement, including Gaetano Pesce, Emilio Ambasz, and Alessandro Mendini. Accompanying the film is a major exhibition titled SuperDesign at Tribeca gallery R & Company, on view from November 7–January 4, 2018.

Penta-bidet in Studio65’s stand at the Eurodomus 4 Expo in Turin, 1972. Photo: Franco Audrito, Studio65 Archive

Zaha: An Architectural Legacy

The international architecture community mourned the loss of one of its most exuberant stars in March of 2016 with the passing of Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British legend whose signature swoops were etched into skylines across the world. This film, produced by the Architects’ Journal, features interviews with key associates (including Patrik Schumacher, who now helms her eponymous firm) and focuses on four of Hadid’s most well-known projects: the Vitra Fire Station in Germany, the MAXXI museum in Rome, the London Olympic Aquatic Centre, and the Winton Mathematics Gallery at London’s Science Museum.

Zaha Hadid’s Mathematics Gallery for the London Science Museum, one of her last projects. Photo: Luke Hayes

The Architecture & Design Film Festival runs from November 1–5 at Cinépolis Chelsea in New York City. For a full list of films and a schedule for the festival, visit


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