Explore design through film

Films include (clockwise from main picture) Barbicania (2014), where people at London's Barbican Centre and Estate talk about its architecture; The Salt Of The Earth (2014), about Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado; and Iris (2014), about New Y
Films include Barbicania (2014), where people at London's Barbican Centre and Estate talk about its architecture.PHOTO: A DESIGN FILM FESTIVAL
Films include (clockwise from main picture) Barbicania (2014), where people at London's Barbican Centre and Estate talk about its architecture; The Salt Of The Earth (2014), about Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado; and Iris (2014), about New Y
Films include The Salt Of The Earth (2014), about Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES FILE
Films include (clockwise from main picture) Barbicania (2014), where people at London's Barbican Centre and Estate talk about its architecture; The Salt Of The Earth (2014), about Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado; and Iris (2014), about New Y
Films include Iris (2014), about New York interior designer Iris Apfel.PHOTO: A DESIGN FILM FESTIVAL

The line-up at the fifth edition of A Design Film Festival spans documentaries to biopics

A portmanteau film comprising 62 one-minute short films, a documentary about Parisian haute couture artisans and an Oscar- nominated biopic of famed Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado - these are some of the films showing at the upcoming A Design Film Festival.

Running from Sept 5 to 13, the festival features 10 movies dedicated to films about art, architecture, fashion and the subcultures of design.

This year, in its fifth edition, part of the festival will play on its biggest screen yet: the iconic Capitol Theatre, which can seat 977 people, for the first weekend. The following week, films will be screened at Shaw Theatres Lido in Orchard Road.

Early-bird tickets, which went on sale last weekend, are selling fast.

Despite its small size, the festival spotlights a variety of design and art disciplines.

In Station To Station (2014), arty types can soak up the 62 short shorts by creatives such as musician Beck and artist Ed Ruscha, who meditate on railroads, journeys and the American landscape as they take a train from New York City to San Francisco.

  • BOOK IT / A DESIGN FILM FESTIVAL

  • Where: Capitol Theatre and Shaw Theatres Lido

    When: Sept 5 and 6, various times (Capitol Theatre); Sept 11 to 13, various times ( Shaw Theatres Lido)

    Admission: Early-bird tickets at $15 each till July 31. From Aug 1, tickets are at $18

    Info: Go to www.designfilmfestival.com to buy tickets and for details

Fashion hounds can learn about super-skilled craftsmen, such as an expert pleat-maker, in Hand Made With Love In France (2014); while photography buffs can find out more about the life of Salgado, considered one of the most important photographers of the 21st century, in The Salt Of The Earth (2014).

The festival is organised by multi- disciplinary design studio Anonymous. The studio's creative director Felix Ng, 33, is the curator and festival director.

This year's line-up of documentaries was selected from a shortlist of about 150 films and reflects the current state of the creative industry where there is "cross- pollination" of skills, he says.

The festival features seven Asian premieres, including 808 (2015), a homage film to the Roland-TR 808 drum machine, used to create some of the most well-known musical beats in the last three decades; and Very Semi-Serious (2015), an offbeat film about the respected cartoon department at the New Yorker magazine.

Mr Ng says the festival has gained a following beyond the creative fraternity. It has been held every year since 2010, but skipped a year in 2012.

He says: "Film is an interesting medium to talk about design in a way that is not intimidating for those who aren't designers. It is also a good way to give them a glimpse into the design process and know more about the creative industry."

The festival has attracted a growing audience here through the years. When it was first held at Sinema Old School in Mount Sophia, 1,800 people attended screenings. Last year, 6,500 people headed to Shaw Theatres Lido to catch 23 shows, of which 21 were sold out, says Mr Ng.

Now, it travels around the world and will show in Bangkok and New York this year. There will also be private screenings in five other cities such as Mumbai and Shanghai.

The increasing popularity has spurred Mr Ng and his team to continue organising the event, despite lack of sponsorship. The festival is funded largely by ticket sales.

Lending to the festival vibe, there will be food-and-beverage booths by partners such as coffee joint Chye Seng Huat Hardware.

Official festival merchandise will also be available, such as tabi socks - traditional Japanese split-toe socks - which were specially designed with local lifestyle store Supermama and feature graphic prints.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Explore design through film'. Print Edition | Subscribe