International competition

Learning from Buffalo

Rima Yamazaki

2018United States100 minColourDCP , Dolby Stereo (SR) , Dolby Digital

Buffalo, New York is home to several architectural masterpieces built in the late 19th century to the early 20th century, such as the Darwin D. Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guaranty Building by Louis Sullivan, and Kleinhans Music Hall by Eliel and Eero Saarinen. While some important buildings, including the Larkin Administration Building by Wright, have been demolished, the preservation movement has been active in Buffalo for the past years. Architecture is embraced as a treasure, but it could be a burden to the city at the same time. The city of Buffalo, which was once prosperous, has suffered from economic downturn for the last decades like many other American cities. Industries have left and the population has declined almost by half. One of the issues that the city has been facing is vacant properties. Since 2000, the city has demolished thousands of vacant homes and buildings to clean up some neighborhoods, which just created vacant lots in turn. LEARNING FROM BUFFALO is a cinematic study of the architectural culture of Buffalo through translating architecture into film. Much of the film consists of beautifully photographed cinematic encounters with various architectural masterpieces, including the Guaranty Building (designed by Louis Sullivan and completed in 1896), the Darwin D. Martin House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1907), the Buffalo Central Terminal (completed in 1929), Kleinhans Music Hall (designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen and completed in 1940), the Shoreline Apartments (designed by Paul Rudolph and completed in 1974), and several grain elevators (American Elevator built in 1906, Perot Elevator, 1907, Marin A Elevator built in 1925, Lake & Rail Elevator built 1927–1930 and other). In addition, the filmmaker also visited two neighborhoods, the West Side and the East Side, and interviewed a couple of residents about the changes in the city that they have witnessed. The filmmaker also visited the Buffalo History Museum to look at historical photos of Buffalo that illustrate the city’s history. Moving back and forth between architectural documentation, historical testimony, and interviews with Buffalo residents, the filmmaker depicts the many dimensions of a city plagued by departing industries, a plethora of vacant properties, and great economic and racial disparities. Exploring the architecture and cityscape of the post-industrial American city, LEARNING FROM BUFFALO meditates on the relationship between architecture, city, society, and history.

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