ArCH Film Festival: Featuring Architecture Getting It on with Urban Living

So far this year, nearly every cultural, political, social and professional group has seen its passions portrayed cinematically. The Aurora Picture Show Extremely Shorts Film Festival made much ado about movies in miniature. QFest sought to foster positive relations between the LGBT community and the community at large. And the REDCAT International Children's Film Festival, for the children (or the child in you), is nearing the end of its late summer run. Now it's architecture's turn. Four films, three days, a double feature and one very important profession. The Second Annual ArCh Film Festival, sponsored by AIA Houston (American Institute of Architects Houston), will be held Thursday, August 16, through Saturday, August 18.

According to Rusty Bienvenue, executive director of AIA Houston and organizer of the event, the goal of the ArCH Film Festival is "to raise awareness of Architecture Center Houston, to raise awareness of the role of architects in the built environment and to show films that might otherwise have a difficult time finding a commercial audience."

The festival's four films come together to reveal a theme about the interplay of architecture and urban living. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2011) tells a story of the rise and dilapidation of the Pruitt-Igoe urban housing project in St. Louis. What came in its place was a 1950s and '60s "mass suburbanization" and a negative effect on the community around it. My Playground (2010) is an around-the-world tale of the symbiotic relationship between Parkour and Freerunning participants and the urban buildings that they run, jump and flip on. Radiant City (2006), half documentary, half satire, mocks suburbia through the eyes of the Moss family, whose five members have just moved into its greener pastures from the city. Urbanized (2011), the third in Hustwit's series about design (Helvetica; Objectified), is another documentary about the design process of buildings -- the good, the bad, the impediments, its progress and, ultimately, the impact these finished structures have, and will have, on cities for years to come.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth and Urbanized will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. On Friday there will be a double-feature showing of My Playground and Radiant City.

The ArCH Film Festival will be held at Architecture Center Houston, 315 Capitol. Tickets for The Pruitt-Igoe Myth and Urbanized are $15. The My Playground/Radiant City double feature will cost $20. For more information, visit aiahouston.org.

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