Trending now: Architecture film

Grand Prize winners, architect Andrew Cook of Kramer + Marks Architects (left) and filmmaker Cheryl Hess (right), with Film Challenge judge Heather Koury, Hon. AIA (middle), at the Architecture & Design Film Festival: New York 2018, for the screening of their winning film.

What was once a “little niche” is now a “genre in the making,” says Kyle Bergman, founder of the Architecture and Design Film Festival, about architecture film. That’s excellent news for architects and filmmakers participating in this year’s AIA Film Challenge. The challenge is the perfect platform to share your story, make an impact, be screened at architecture film festivals, and win up to $10k!

Plus, your film will be seen by our amazing panel of judges including Hollywood director Joseph Kosinski, who is currently working on Top Gun: Maverick for Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media.

Read on for more inspiration that will help you make your mark on this emerging genre.

Architecture films highlight social issues

Now in its fifth year, the AIA Film Challenge shines a spotlight on the incredible power of design to make neighborhoods, communities, and cities better. Since the inception of the challenge, more than 240 films have shown design solutions related to climate change, equity and inclusion, homelessness and housing solutions, public health, cultural spaces, and preservation—powerful stories that need to be told.

“Too often, the value of architecture is based on the brand recognition of the architect who designed it and the prestige of the critics that comment on it, rather than [how] the whole creation process—as well as the beauty of the building—affect society for the better,” says Thatcher Bean, film director at MASS Design Group and 2018 AIA Film Challenge judge. Bean believes filmmaking “brings value back to architecture by communicating the less often expressed social impact a building has.”

Need inspiration? Check out our film archives from previous AIA Film Challenges. Last year’s Grand Prize winner, Past/Presence: Saving the Spring Garden School, tells the story of a school building that sat vacant for nearly four decades before being transformed into affordable housing for veterans and seniors. “This building by itself without the residents and the people—I feel like it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting,” says filmmaker Cheryl Hess. “It’s a beautiful building, but as a work of art, the film wouldn’t have worked on that level. You need the human element.”

You should also watch the launch film created for AIA Film Challenge 2019. It shares the story of Breezy Point resident Diane Hellriegel, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. New York-based architect Illya Azaroff, AIA, worked with federal agencies, experts, building product manufacturers, and Diane to design a new #HurricaneStrong Home. “Diane and Illya collaborated to build a project that was not just a response to the disaster but also [planned] for the future,” says Jainey Bavashi, director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Resiliency.

More demand = more visibility

Cities like London, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Budapest, Chicago, New York, and more host prestigious architecture film festivals. We’re also seeing architecture films on stages at Sundance, Tribeca, and Cannes.

Bergman, founder of the largest architecture film festival in the US, sees these festivals as a great opportunity to bring the design conversation to the public. “Many people don’t quite understand what [architects] do and how we think,” he says. “At the festival…we’re creating a place where the design conversation can extend to a broader audience.”

And with more festivals entering the scene each year, more films are being made, and there’s a larger audience who wants to see your work. You have a captive audience in a growing market.

What are you waiting for?

There’s no better time to make your mark on an up-and-coming genre, and the AIA Film Challenge 2019 is the perfect platform to share your story. You’ll get instant recognition for your work, get your film into film festivals, win prize money, gain recognition with new audiences, and ultimately, make a positive impact on the world.

We’re looking forward to seeing what you create! Hurry, films are due August 12.