The long-awaited documentary “REM“, based on the works of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, will be premiered during the 73rd Venice Film Festival, which will take place from August 31st to September 10th, 2016.
The film focuses on the human relations brought up by the Rem Koolhaas‘ architecture, in contrast to many architecture documentaries that merely portray the empty spaces inside and around the buildings. The documentary, which took over 4 years of filming and research, was directed by the architect’s son himself.
“REM” by Tomas Koolhaas
USA, 75’ language: English, Dutch – s/t English, Italian (documentary)
9 September 17:30 – Sala Volpi
10 September 16:45 – Sala Volpi
73rd Venice Film Festival
The finalization of the film was delayed almost a year, according to Tomas Koolhaas, the author’s son. “When the time of the Architecture Biennale in Venice arrived, I realized that it was important to include it in the documentary”, said Tomas. “Venice plays an important role in the life of my father, so I am particularly pleased that the film is presented in this city’s International Film Festival.”
Most architectural documentaries explore only the intellectual reasoning behind the aesthetic/design choices made by an architect. These films are usually made up of talking-head interviews interspersed with static, lifeless shots of empty structures.
‘REM’ is the first documentary to comprehensively explore the human conditions in and around Rem Koolhaas’s buildings from a ground level perspective.
The film not only reveals Rem’s life and working methods from an unprecedented ‘behind the scenes’ perspective but the film gives the architecture greater meaning as the viewer witnesses the one thing that gives it a function and purpose – how it is used by people.
The resulting film is not only visually spectacular but revealing and touching in a way not usually expected from an architecture documentary.
The stories incorporated are not only that of Rem and his collaborators who work tirelessly all over the globe on projects that push the boundaries of imagination and engineering but the construction workers who physically put these structures together piece by piece, the inhabitants of the buildings who live every day surrounded by this dramatic architecture, a homeless man who shelters daily in the Seattle library and describes the building’s free internet and access to musical instruments as a “lifeline” that “gives him hope for the future,” a free-runner (aka parkour) who uses the ambiguous surfaces of the Porto Concert Hall interchangeably; running across and flipping off wall, ceiling and floor alike.
Architecture is usually filmed from the outside as an inanimate object. The few depictions of interiors are usually limited to still or static images of an empty building, reducing it to no more than an icon or sculpture.
REM uses an unconventional approach by focusing on the human stories and experience of both the architect and the users of his architecture. The film explores Rem Koolhaas’ life, working methods, philosophy and internal landscape, from a never seen perspective of intimacy and immediacy.
There is no extraneous narrator mediating for the viewer. The result is having the feeling of being “inside” his head. This perspective allows the viewer to understand Rem’s ideas in a way they couldn’t otherwise. These ideas are not merely explained as intellectual concepts but the viewer also sees these ideas in practice—the reality on the ground. They see how these ideas come to fruition in concrete and metal.
The film shows how these structures, some massive and some small— dotted all around the globe—affect every aspect of the lives of the people that build them, use them and live inside them.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT-TOMAS KOOLHAAS
When I set out to make REM my aim was to show two perspectives that have never been seen before on film. Firstly, the close up view of the stories of the people that use and inhabit the buildings. Secondly, the close up perspective of Rem Koolhaas: the way he works, thinks and lives. I wanted to make a film that showed these two things and showed the connection between the two—how Rem’s philosophy, way of thinking, and designing has affected the lives of the users of his buildings. I wanted to do this in a way that was visceral and evocative, in a manner that most documentaries are not. I tried to do this in part by using a perspective that felt immediate instead of contrived.