ROTTERDAM – The documentary is called Concrete Love, but its original German title is more fitting: Die Böhms – Architektur einer Familie which literally translates as The Böhms – Architecture of a Family. Its first screening is on Wednesday and is the official opening film of the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR), the world's largest film festival devoted entirely to architecture. The film is, indeed, about the architecture of the family; not only because it shows the works of Cologne-based father Gottfried Böhm and his three architect sons, Stephan, Peter and Paul, but even more so because it shows their mutual relationships. Although Gottfried’s three sons each have their own offices – under the same roof in the family house – one feels the presence and expectations of their father looming over their decisions and accomplishments. Their designs are discussed within the family, with words as well as significant silences. As they are all middle-aged by now – their father is 93 years of age in the film – this has a certain tragic feel. In addition to this, the impact of the financial crisis on the German construction industry, the fragility of Gottfried Böhm and his wife Elisabeth who suffers from Alzheimer's disease combine to form a film deeply bathed in a melancholic atmosphere. Directed by Maurizius Staerkle-Drux, Concrete Love is not just a film about architecture, it's a splendid film about life, death and the passing of time. Watch the trailer here.
Screenings: Wednesday 7 October, 20:30 and Saturday 10 October, 17:45
Some other highlights in the AFFR programme include:
- Above and Below, Nicolas Steiner, 2015 (Sunday 11 October, 18:00)
It's hard to believe that this mature piece of work is actually a graduation project. The documentary combines poetic images with a rough social reality. It centres on four people who live in isolated conditions: a homeless couple who seeks refuge in a Las Vegas flood channel, a man who fled civilization after his divorce and now lives in an abandoned military bunker in the Californian desert and a woman pretending to execute a mission on Mars that actually takes place in a desolate part of Utah.
- Shorts: Raw Beauty (Sunday 11 October, 12:00)
The compilation of short films by different directors includes three 'film exercises' by Marcio Kogan. Previously a filmmaker, the Brazilian architect uses this expertise to present his buildings in surprising and humorous ways. Check out, for instance, his hilarious Casa Redux, with a Werner Herzog-inspired voice-over here.
- Barbicania, Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine, 2014 (Saturday 10 October, 21:45)
After their widely acclaimed debut film, Koolhaas Houselife, Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine (daughter of the client for whom OMA designed the famous House in Bordeaux) made many other documentary films about architecture. In their recent work, a shift can be noticed: a clear focus on the social side of architecture. For Barbicania, Bêka and Lemoine spent a month on the Barbican Centre estate in London, meeting with a variety of people. Read the interview with the directors in Mark 59, available 1 December 2015.
The eighth Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam takes place at LantarenVenster cinema from 8 to 11 October 2015. It features over 100 international documentaries, feature films and short films as well as debates, lectures and seminars.
See the full programme here.
Photos courtesy of Raphael Beinder / Lichtblick Film