International Film Competition 2021

Shorlitsted Films


Archfilmfest London announces the 18 shortlisted films for the International Film Competition 2021. The [OPEN CALL] for competition received over 270 submissions from 40 countries worldwide, competing for awards in six categories:

  1. Documentary (Feature Length, max. 120min)
  2. Fiction (Short, max. 30min)
  3. Experimental (Short, max. 30min)
  4. New Media*
  5. Commercial** (Short, max. 30min)
  6. Care (Short, max. 30min.), open to films that respond to the theme of the 2021 London Festival of Architecture.

* The New Media category encompasses AR, VR, MR, drone footage, and Point Cloud data (3D scanning/ photogrammetry) turned into a moving image. This category could include moving image submissions created with the use of AI.
** The Commercial category encompasses films/videos created with the purpose of promoting unbuilt projects to gain funding or created to showcase a completed/built project. This category’s submissions could include moving image renders.

The films addressed a wide range of topics and visions where architecture played a central role. The selection of films for the shortlist was difficult, given the number and quality, as well as the diversity in perspectives and stories of the submitted films. We thank all directors and producers for sharing their work with us.


Feature-length, Max. 120min

Not Just Roads

Nitin Bathla & Klearjos Eduardo Papanicolaou, India/Switzerland, 2020, 67′


Not Just Roads is an ethnographic documentary film that narrates the story of a massive urban transformation underway in India. Highways are being constructed at an unprecedented rate of 23 kilometers per day under the Indian government’s Bharatmala (‘Garland of Limitless Roads’) program. The program aims to open new territories for the emerging Indian middle class. Currently, the territory is inhabited by villages, working class neighbourhoods, and nomadic herders. It is criss-crossed by native trails and vital ecological commons. This film captures the story of one such highway outside Delhi, from the perspective of human and non-human actors.

The Proposal

Jill Magid, US, 2018, 83′


Known as “the artist among architects”, Luis Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century. Upon his death in 1988, much of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker, hidden from the world’s view. In an attempt to resurrect Barragán’s life and art, boundary redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself—a high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art.

On A Clear Day You Can See The Revolution From Here

Emma Charles & Ben Evans James,  Canada/Kazakhstan, 2020, 64′


On A Clear Day You Can See the Revolution From Here excavates layers of myth, geology and technology to reveal the shifting fault lines between a government, its people and their land.

 The film brings into focus contemporary processes of nation building and myth-making in Kazakhstan through an expansive journey across the remnants of Soviet technological infrastructures that persist in the landscape. Shot on 16mm, the camera is drawn across the Kazakh Steppe, taking in locations that include mineral mines, the Eurasian Steppe, the STS decommissioned nuclear site and the newly constructed city of Nur-Sultan.


Short, Max. 30min

The Tower of a Forgotten India

Uday Berry, UK, 2019, 10′


Exploring the politics behind architectural heritage, conservation and the state’s role as a custodian of culture, The Tower of a Forgotten India follows the story of The Architect, a man desperately trying to save the nation’s past. A narrative of passion and madness unfolds within the Tower, a megastructure that reinvigorates forgotten buildings and fragments, reintegrating them into the city’s urban fabric. Given the status of modern-day India, heritage-related threats come from every direction, including religious fundamentalism, thoughtless modernization, the culture of collectability and political corruption—themes that this film closely examines. The Tower of a Forgotten India is a modern parable spanning decades, suggesting that control of a city’s past is ultimately a fool’s paradise.

Live In Cloud-Cuckoo Land

Vu Minh Nghia & Pham Hoang Minh Thy, Vietnam, 2020, 20′


A modern tale of Kafka in Vietnam—a country that is in the middle of a transformation. The film feels like a piece of cultural news with daily events: a wedding, traffic congestion, a robbery, a mystical metamorphosis and a love story.


Shirin Sabahi, Germany/South Korea, 2018, 21′


A construction photographer with a taste for explosions and mythical creatures is about to leave the last building that he was assigned to document. The building is nearly complete, and he has decided to capture one final, iconic shot of it before leaving. The film’s narrator voices the photographer’s conflicting ideas on the relationship between the built environment and its images, especially the entanglement of modern architecture and narrative cinema. Landing is commissioned by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and shot at one of their building projects in Seoul. The script is based on conversations with twenty-six architects and engineers who had worked on the building’s design. Daekwang Lee, the building’s photographer, plays himself, and the film is narrated by the architect David Chipperfield.


Short, Max. 30min

Secluded Stillness

Miguel C. Tavares & Tiago Costa, Portugal, 2018, 11′


Secluded Stillness is a short film in diptych form, shot in Adega Baía da Arruda, a project by the Portuguese-Swiss architecture firm Barão-Hutter that was built on Pico Island in 2017. The film intertwines the house/cellar with the unique context of the island. Through sounds, textures, light and images of local flora and fauna, this film closely encapsulates what it is like to experience this space of secluded contemplation by the Atlantic Ocean. As Raul Brandão wrote in Ilhas Desconhecidas, “Here words end, here ends the world that I know; here, in this tremendous isolation where artificial life is reduced to the minimum, only eternal things endure”.


Khalil Charif & Marcos Bonisson, Brasil, 2019, 13′


This film is set in the neighbourhood of Copacabana, elaborated through a collage of current and archival images, including Super 8 and digital). It is an experimental work narrated by the significant speech of the poet Fausto Fawcett and sonorized by the musician Arnaldo Brandão.

Bab Sebta

Randa Maroufi, France/Morocco, 2019, 20′


Bab Sebta is a series of reconstructed events observed in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on Moroccan soil. This place, where thousands of people work every day, is a crossroads for the transportation of manufactured goods that are sold at a discount.

New Media*

* The New Media category encompasses AR, VR, MR, drone footage, and Point Cloud data (3D scanning/ photogrammetry) turned into a moving image. This category could include moving image submissions created with the use of AI.

The Third Space : Inhabitable Interfaces

Krina Christopoulou, UK, 2020, 8′


This design investigates how the domestic realm will be affected by the evolution from 2D computer interfaces to inhabitable 3D digital environments. In light of Covid-19, the project investigates the role of architecture in learning, working, meeting up and living communally online, eliminating spatial distance through technology. The result is a proposal for the home of the future, in which domesticity is simply the programmatic starting point of a dwelling.

Humanitas Ex Machina [humanity from the machine]

Kanto Maeda & Uwais Hafizal, UK, 2020, 8′


In these strange times, which push us to find communion in isolation and deny us our sense of touch, how do we fulfill our innate desire to connect? This film is the culmination of a student architecture project that explores this question in the virtual realm, proposing speculative ‘body devices’ that simulate senses and spatial awareness within our bodies. The film blends installation, projection, photogrammetry, performance and poetry to tell the stories of how people may come together in a post-pandemic future, of how ‘humanity’ may be attained from ‘the machine’.

Dialogic Machines

Thomas Parker, UK, 2020, 7′


Dialogic Machines is an ongoing research project in which an Artificial Intelligent system (GAN) is trained as an analytical tool to understand on an objective level the nuanced ways in which we construct, draw, and represent architectural design. The pair of AI models, left and right, are in a state of continuous conversation, allowing them to both propose and respond to what they believe an architectural drawing might be—having been trained on a dataset of over 8000+ unique orthographic architectural drawings. Through this generative conversation and response to each other’s interpretations the machines begin to find differences and commonalities that they believe objectively are worthy of representation and discussion.


Short, Max. 30 min

** The Commercial category encompasses films/videos created with a purpose of promoting unbuilt projects to gain funding or created to showcase a completed/built project. This category’s submissions could include moving image renders.

Site Specific: Parnell Square

Bonnie Dempsey, Ireland, 2020, 6′


An ambitious redevelopment project is underway to transform Parnell Square into the cultural quarter of Dublin City with the provision of the new Dublin City Library by Pritzker Prize-winning Architects Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell.

The Modern House: Nithurst Farm

Edward Bishop & Jim Stephenson, UK, 2020, 5′


In 2019 architect Adam Richards revealed Nithurst Farm, his self-designed family home in the South Downs National Park. We’re pleased to share a new film made for The Modern House, exploring the far-reaching ideas and references that informed the convention-defying design of the house, as well as the intimate realities of daily life in the space, one year on.

Tadao Ando Campus + Tower

Hans Georg Esch, Germany, 2020, 8′


This film was created for the project developer EuroAtlantic to promote the unbuilt project Tadao Ando Campus & Tower in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Care ***

Short, Max. 30min

***Open to films that respond to the theme of the 2021 London Festival of Architecture.

El Caso de la Carne

Valeria Meiller & Agustin Schang, Argentina/US, 2020, 20′


The Case of Meat explores manifold stories behind the meat industry in Argentina. Beginning with the personal narrative of Tata Moya, an ex-worker at a slaughtering facility in the Argentine pampas, this film opens the curtain on an industry socially designed to remain out of sight.

13 Square Meters

Kamil Bembnista & Ayham Dalal, Germany, 2021, 15′


Synopsis: In 2015, Berlin received thousands of refugees overnight. To accommodate them, new types of refugee camps called Tempohomes were constructed, establishing new typologies of shelter. In this short documentary, the notion of the refugee camp as space of care and control is explored,  providing a provocative perspective on the meaning of shelters today, their connection with everyday urban architecture and the production of mass housing. By juxtaposing the initial design of these shelters and refugees’ rearrangements of the space, the documentary questions the role of architecture: how can we offer displaced populations better conditions in which to dwell?

Ciutat de Granada 145-147-149

Alex Sarda, Spain, 2020, 20′


Synopsis: Ciutat de Granada 145-147-149 is the address of a new social housing complex for vulnerable seniors in Barcelona. These three buildings shelter 127 seniors, as well as a small team of caretakers and social workers who give them basic assistance. The inhabitants build community within a space that discourages loneliness and allows them to interact with each other.

About Me

Theresa Jordan

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