Curated by Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at SVA, and Adam Harrison Levy, faculty member in the MFA Design Criticism Department at SVA, the second annual SVA/BBC Design Film Festival celebrates documentary film as a form of narrative about design. The Festival is this Sunday, March 17th in New York City.
Ongoing collaboration between SVA and the BBC allows the College to present cinematic gems that aired in Europe but rarely or never in the U.S. This year’s Festival explores everyday and iconic objects — from the bra and deodorant to the Harley Davidson and the London Underground map. Highlights include Cracked Actor: David Bowie, the 1975 profile of David Bowie at the most vulnerable time of his life, and Chelsea Hotel, a film about the historic residence as seen through the eyes of the artists who lived there including Andy Warhol, William S. Burroughs and others.
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11am: The Bra (1993)
In 1913, an American debutante, Caresse Crosby, needed a prop for her bust that would be both effective and unobtrusive. She improvised with folded handkerchiefs. The result was the bra.
11:25am: Deodorant (1990)
How hygiene products as well as attitudes towards body odor have changed and transformed over the years.
11:50am: Harley Davidson (1990)
The origins and powerful mythology that surround this design classic.
12:25pm: The London Underground Map (1987)
Created in 1931 by Henry Beck, a London Underground employee, this map has become on icon for both London and British design in general (think of all those mugs and dishtowels).
2pm: Chelsea Hotel (1981)
A compelling film about the artists who lived and loved this infamous hotel, including footage of Andy Warhol and William Burroughs, Quentin Crisp and Virgil Thompson, among others.
4pm: Cracked Actor: David Bowie (1975)
In this film, made in 1974 during Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour and rarely screened in the U.S., the artist-musician is seen during his most vulnerable, coke-addicted period. He reveals the psychological toll of creating characters such as Ziggy Stardust, and talks about the role of mime and costumes in the design of his performances. The film includes mesmeric concert footage and compelling interviews shot in limos, hotel rooms and backstage.
3pm: & 5pm: Q&A with Alan Yentob
Alan Yentob is the creative director of the BBC and editor and presenter of the Imagine series. A celebrated and award-winning program maker, Yentob quickly came to personify the creative spirit of the BBC. From 1973 to 1975 he was a producer/director with Omnibus, where his films famously included Cracked Actor: David Bowie. In 1978 he created the mold-breaking arts series Arena and was editor until 1985. In 1985 Alan became head of music and arts and stayed in the post until 1988 when he was appointed controller of BBC Two. Under his five-year stewardship BBC Two was revitalized and introduced many programming innovations including The Late Show, Have I Got News For You?, Absolutely Fabulous and Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers. Yentob was appointed controller of BBC One in 1993. He became director of programmes in 1997, then director of television in 1998. In June 2004 he became the BBC’s creative director.