The original, the non-place and the copy
Original creations, adaptations and blatant copies have always been native to our built environment, and they are certainly a part of architects’ and filmmakers’ creative toolkits. Arguments against the idea of copying an original work are diverse and seldom regulated, either legally or otherwise, leading to rich and often controversial legacies surrounding reproductions and their value.
This capsule invites the audience to engage in a multilayered experience by connecting stories of unexpected, replicated buildings and urban areas worldwide through a selection of film and conversations, together with photography, music and digital material. The idea of spatial reproduction seems particularly relevant when we consider those spaces that have been reproduced globally, connecting us across different locations and cultures. French anthropologist Marc Augé, for example, describes shopping malls, airports lounges, hotel rooms, and motorways as “non-places” because they fail to address three essential place-making qualities: being historical, relational, or concerned with identity. However, can we ignore our current, unfamiliar longing for these non-places, unreachable in the time of Covid, without asking: Are these spaces truly devoid of place-making qualities? In turn, can we really call where we live today a place?
Manuel Toledo-Otaegui is the co-founder and Programme Director of the Architecture Film Festival London. As an experienced designer and producer, his focus follows the relations within the arts and creative industries, especially when architecture and media are involved. Manuel’s work has led him to participate as a curator, film festival Jury member and guest critic internationally.
With thanks to Benoit Felici, Luis Bernardes, Federico Eibuszyc, Aurèle Ferrier and Josephine English Cook.
Stereographic Paris around 1900
Luis Bernardes, Argentina, 2018, 70′
Buenos Aires doesn´t exist. Neither does Paris. It´s all part of a plan by The Corroborators. Suzanne, a French journalist, travels to Buenos Aires under the request of Martin Dressler for a guided tour of the French style buildings copied from Paris. But Dressler never shows up. Suzanne discovers that The Corroborators were a secret society that decided to copy Paris in Buenos Aires at the end of the XIX Century. But this society suddenly vanished and became a myth. Suzanne believes they have disappeared Dressler and now they are after her.
The Corroborators (2017), director and producer: Luis Bernardez. Produced by Federico Eibuszyc, Luis Bernardez, Barbara, Sarasola-Day, Pablo Destito & Pablo Giles.
A few years ago, wandering among the stalls of a flea market at San Telmo, Buenos Aires, an old postal that showed the image of Janus stamped on it called my attention. I bought it. The city looked different. But the seal seemed to prove the image. I found out that it belonged to the myth of a secret society that by the end of the 19th century had decided to make an exact replica of Paris in Buenos Aires: The Corroborators.
I traced that myth and on writings and photos of those years. I concluded that copying Paris was not an ideal but a Master Plan. The Corroborators were more than a myth. They created the myth that we, the Porteños are very proud of: “We are the South American Paris”. If you walk along some streets and avenues in Buenos Aires, you could believe you are in Paris, since buildings, boulevards and passages were fully reproduced.
Every question, every doubt that arises on this subject always leads us to The Corroborators. Is it possible to have a real life if we are conscious that we live in a fiction? How can we live in foreign scenery? Why do we resign to be ourselves in an attempt to be another?
“The Corroborators” borders the documentary and the fiction to come closer to the foundational fact of our porteño identity. It inquires about the desires and ambitions of our society as a country, about the myths that have shaped us, about our identity and our architecture. About what we have been and what we would like to be.
Buenos Aires under Construction
Images Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina
Aurèle Ferrier, Switserland, 2014, 23′
Infrastructures involve a journey through a landscape of infrastructures that are common to an everyday reality of routine. Yet here we find these environments are deserted. This allows attention to focus instead on the design and spatial arrangements of the objects, we find the features of these landscapes – which would not usually bear noticing – become centrally present.
The film involves a series of seven tracking shots. A steady flow of objects in various contrived arrangements passes by the eye. The sound design incorporates the subtle noises given off by these ready-to-use sites devoid of users. Produced in Dolby Surround, the soundtrack both evokes the physical experience of the location and creates a dialogue with these structured spaces and the arrangement and design of the objects therein.
The Real Thing
Benoit Felici, France, 2018, 70′
Paris, the Taj Mahal, Venice, the Vatican :
All these monuments and many more have replicas scattered around the globe.
Not just simple copies, these constructions are mirrors in which
a certain image of the world is reflected.
THE REAL THING is a journey into a copy of our world. Seeking the
monumental copycat architecture of China and other countries around the world.
Residential areas where people live an everyday life in places simulating other places.
The Real Thing VR
Benoit Felici, France, 2019, 16′
The Real Thing is a VR journey into a copy of our world. Around China’s largest cities, entire neighborhoods have been inspired by foreign models. The film explores the most stunning of these “fake cities.” It travels from Paris to London and Venice – without leaving China. The inhabitants guide us through their parallel world. As VR leads the way to virtual tourism, copycat cities compete to offer a real experience of static travel. Walking the thin line between reality and virtuality, this documentary combines both to enhance a whole new feeling of ubiquity.
Written & Directed by Benoit Felici
Co-Directed by Mathias Chelebourg
Cinematographer: Julien Malichier
Produced by Artline Films & DVgroup
In collaboration with ARTE France
The original, the non-place and the copy
by Manuel Toledo Otaegui
Luis Bernardes was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His short-film Parking Garage won the INCAA Prize Short Stories 2011, won an Editing Mention on UNCIPAR 2015 and was selected at the Buncheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2015, among others.
The Corroborators, his first feature film as Director and Writer, won the INCAA Opera Prima Prize for production and has its World Premiere at the Official Argentine Competition of the Mar del Plata International Film Festival 2017.
Awards: Best Original Script. Best Editing. Also won Best Picture at FESAALP 2018 and Best Director at Tandil Cine 2018.
Aurèle Ferrier is a visual artist based in Zurich. He holds an MA in Fine Arts from the Zurich University of the Arts.
His cinematic works explore the edges of civilisation. They have received numerous awards and have been presented in exhibitions and at film and moving image festivals; i.a. at Rencontres Internationales (Paris/Berlin), Image Forum (Tokyo), Anthology Film Archives (New York), IDFA (Amsterdam), Open City Documentary Festival (London), Museum Haus Konstruktiv (Zurich), Kumu Art Museum (Tallin), Chicago Underground Film Festival (Chicago), Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Film Center National Chiao Tung University (Hsinchu), City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima)
Benoit Felici is a French-Italian filmmaker based in Paris. His films Unfinished Italy and The Real Thing project have premiered in international film festivals including HotDocs, DokLeipzig, Full Frame, Dok München, Thessaloniki Film Festival, BAFICI, Raindance, Camden, Future of Storytelling NY, Sheffield Doc Fest, Clermont-Ferrand etc). receiving numerous awards.
In 2013 Benoit Felici received the Foundation Lagardère’s Excellence Grant as documentary author. In 2014 he was among the alumni of the Berlinale Doc Station. Recently, between 2019 and 2020, Benoit wrote and directed a 4X52’ documentary series Via Italia about the italian romans ways for Voyage TV (DISNEY Media Networks).
His films have been shown on ARTE, France 3, Voyage TV, YLE, RDI-Radio Canada, AMC Networks, RSI, etc