National Building Museum hosts annual Architecture & Design Film Festival

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Architecture & Design Film Festival (Part 1)

The National Building Museum celebrates the great architecture in American history.

This week, it hosts the Architecture & Design Film Festival from Thursday to Saturday.

“We’ve been doing it for 14 years,” Festival Director Kyle Bergman told WTOP. “We’re based in New York, but this is our fourth year in D.C. The Architecture & Design Film Festival is the largest film fest dedicated to the creative spirit of architecture and design.”

The lineup kicks off with the documentary “Mau” by Jono & Benji Bergmann.

“[It’s] about graphic designer Bruce Mau,” Bergman said. “He’s really a global thinker. It’s about how design can save the world. He is a big thinker, it’s a very optimistic film, and everyone coming out of it feels engaged and like they can save the world. It’s going to have a theatrical release across the country in May, so this will be a sneak preview.”

The film will be followed by a Q&A with Mau and opening night reception.

“He did campaigns with Coca Cola [and] the biggest companies in the world,” Bergman said. “He’s also working on really big ideas. He was hired by Mecca to rethink the human flow of people during the Hajj. He’s been hired to rebrand the name of a country. He was hired by people in Guatemala to rethink how people think about their country.”

Friday brings the documentary “Beyond Zero” by Nathan Havey.

“It’s really a story about a man, Ray Anderson, who owns Interface Carpets,” Bergman said. “In the mid ’90s, he realized his company is a major polluter and thought, ‘We have to do something.’ He takes his Fortune 500 company and makes the whole company get on the environmental bandwagon and changes to one of the most sustainable companies.”

Saturday includes seven screenings, including “Holy Frit” by Justin Monroe.

“This stain-glassed artist and his quest to make the largest piece of stained glass in the world,” Bergman said. “It’s for a church in Kansas and it is a fun story about the creative process, the trials and tribulations. It is just a ride from beginning to end. Anyone who’s ever tried to do something bigger than they thought they could do it will appreciate this.”

The closing night screening is the Danish documentary “Another Kind of Knowledge: A Portrait of Dorte Mandrup” by filmmakers Marc-Christoph Wagner and Simon Weyhe.

“She is a Danish architect who is just really well known in Scandinavia and hardly known here in America,” Bergman said. “Dorte is coming in from Denmark to do a Q&A after the screening. She is just someone in the design community that we’re all going to know in America in a few years and her work is fantastic and beautiful.”

Founded in 1980, the National Building Museum is a fitting space for such a festival.

“Inside is one of the grandest spaces in all of D.C.,” Bergman said. “It’s where inaugural balls happen. If you’ve never been there, it’s worth it just to go see this interior space. We set up two big theaters inside the great hall, large screens, and because the audio is not great in there, we give everyone headphones, like silent disco headphones.”

The goal is to reach people regardless of their experience in architecture and design.

“We program films that are both interesting to architects and designers, but [also] just the general public,” Bergman said. “It is for everybody. If you have any interest in architecture, design or anything creative, these films have both a design story and a human story.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Architecture & Design Film Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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