Shortlisted Selection #1

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 Documentary

Not Just Roads

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

Synopsis: 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.

Experimental Short

Secluded Stillness

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

Synopsis: 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”.

New Media

Humanitas Ex Machina [humanity from the machine]

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

Synopsis: 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’.

Fiction Short


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

Synopsis: 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.

Commercial Short

The Modern House: Nithurst Farm

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

Synopsis: 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.

Care (LFA theme)

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?

About Me

Theresa Jordan

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