International Competition

Learning from Buffalo

Rima Yamazaki

2018United States100 min

Filming architecture is a challenge in itself. Rima Yamazaki approaches Buffalo’s architecture in concentric circles, managing to render not only the majesty of the whole, but also the elaborate detail of masterpieces such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Buil­ding. Peaceful soundscapes and patient observation beckon us to delight in these three-dimensio­nal beauties, transcribed here within the frame of the screen. Yet, the fourth dimension, time, soon appears in the heart of the images, as we voyage from the late 19th century to the 1970s, a decade that saw the construction of social housing rather than grain silos. Blending sensuality and factuality, Learning from Buffalo draws on research that situates the architectural works in the context in which they were first built. Quotations and statistics invite us to perceive them as symptoms of a city’s history. Also drawing on inter­views with the residents of two diffe­rent neighbourhoods and on photos commented by an archivist, the film turns into a reflection on the fragility of modern empires. Designed to sup­port and bear witness to their gran­deur, monuments are soon forsaken once their hour of glory has passed, like the sublime Larkin Administra­tion Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, destroyed less than fifty years after it was built, or the rail station where nature is reclaiming its rights. Although human beings are rare in these images, they are implicitly pre­sent: behind an abandoned building, lie a thousand thwarted destinies. 
–Olivia Cooper-hadjian

  • Rima Yamazaki (born 1982, Tokyo, Japan) is an independent filmmaker who explores cinematic expression in documenting, studying and reflecting on art and architecture. She works as a one-person film crew; all her films are directed, photographed and edited by herself. Her films have been shown at various film festivals and venues internationally. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

  • PRODUCTION : Rima Yamazaki

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