Lauren Greenfield's 2012 documentary Queen of Versailles goes in the ''excess'' column. Greenfield won the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for Versailles, which follows a billionaire family as they cope with the economic downturn. ''Queen of Versailles is like a McMansion on steroids gone completely crazy,'' says Dodington. ''It's like reality-TV-meets-urban-planning.''
In the ''catastrophe'' column is Detropia, a 2012 film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady that captures the effects of Detroit's financial troubles (rows of empty and abandoned buildings, devastated neighborhoods).
''We're also showing a film about the world’s largest mall. It's in China, and it's vacant. It's something like four times the size of the Mall of America, and it's completely empty.''
The festival kicks off with a 7 p.m. screening of Dark City at Market Square Park, 300 Travis, on August 9. Free. Screenings continue through August 17. For a full schedule, call 713-520-0155 or visit aiahouston.org. Free to $20.
Fri., Aug. 9, 7 p.m.; Aug. 15-17, 7 p.m., 2013