Perret in France and Algeria
SCR/CAM Heinz Emigholz
EDS Heinz Emigholz, Till Beckmann
PROD CO Filmgalerie 451 GmbH & Co. KG
Heinz Emigholz’s groundbreaking and spellbinding architectural films are cinematographic re-enactments of the immediate experience of spaces. With an often canted-angle camera, he dissects the interior and exterior of a building, allowing the viewer to experience being there, and, by studying the career of an architect, construct a biography solely based on the works, without any commentary. The last film in Emigholz’s Architecture as Autobiography series, and the second in his series the Decampment of Modernism, is the first film ever made on French brothers Auguste and Gustave Perret, presenting 30 of their projects in chronological order. And it may be perfect. (Emigholz considers it to be his finest film.)
Like Emigholz’s other subjects—Goff, Maillart, Loos, Kiesler, Schindler, Sullivan—Auguste Perret was an architect’s architect, whose sublime structures, ranging from stunning churches lined with stained-glass windows to private homes and public commissions, achieved sensational results using an unusual connection of stylistic elements from Art Nouveau and neoclassicism with externalized construction frames and bold experiments with concrete—especially in stairwells. As in Emigholz’s Parabeton (also screening at VIFF), which presents works from Italian Pier Luigi Nervi alongside Roman ruins, Perret presents a delicious juxtaposition—between projects in France (up to the landmark post-war reconstruction of Le Havre) and public buildings built under colonialism in Algeria. More than ever, Emigholz places the buildings, from 1904-1954, in their contemporary social conditions; the result is a portrait of France and Algeria now.