5 top documentaries to watch at Budapest Architecture Film Days


  • Zsanett Fürdős

2/18/2021 11:43 AM

This year, the popular annual Budapest Architecture Film Days will be streamed for everyone to watch at home. These Távmozi screenings take place between 4 and 13 March, a dozen or so English-friendly features underscored by urban themes. Here we select our five favourites. The buzzword for 2021? Reconnect!

This will be the 13th edition of BAFD. For the full schedule, see here. For ticket information, see here.

Photo: Budapesti Építészeti Filmnapok

Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf


Piet Oudolf is a Dutch landscape architect, but he’s more a Dutch Master whose brush and canvas have been replaced by plants and landscape. At first glance, this passion for plants may seem a little extreme, until you follow Five Seasons as it takes you through the creative process, the planning and calculations required to create such wonderful gardens. After all, plants are living beings with different looks according to season and weather. Beyond aesthetics, the rethinking of sustainability and ecology on post-industrial areas and neglected neighbourhoods, and the impact of landscape architecture on our lives appear in the same way. This orgy of colour is guaranteed to make every grey winter evening better – though it might be some time before we’re traipsing wildly romantic Dutch gardens again. The arty approach to horticulture is no surprise, as accomplished director Thomas Piper has made some 30 films, focusing on Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jean Nouvel. Friday 5 March, 9pm. 75 minutes. English with Hungarian subtitles.

Photo: Budapesti Építészeti Filmnapok

Golden Age


With all this Baroque music, velvet armchairs, gilded chandeliers, marble surfaces and Persians rugs, you could be in Versailles – but Golden Age actually takes place in Miami, around the extravagant universe of America’s most luxurious retirement home, the Palace. Here, life certainly doesn’t stop at 70. Between cocktail parties and masquerade balls, the film also presents society’s relationship to old age, issues of elderly care and its inherent investor potential. Two Swiss filmmakers direct, Beat Oswald and Samuel Weniger. Sunday 7 March, 7pm. 52 minutes. English with Hungarian subtitles.

Photo: Budapesti Építészeti Filmnapok



As this is a film festival inspired by architecture, who better to showcase than Finnish master, Alvar Aalto? His compatriot, the award-winning Virpi Suutari, uncovers a little-known side of this pioneer, allowing us to glimpse into the daily and professional lives of Alvar and his wife Aino. She was also a designer and together, this architect couple lived not only in love but also in constant inspiration. Richly illustrated with archive images, video and gorgeous travelogue around Finland, Russia, America and Italy. Sunday 7 March, 9pm. 103 minutes. English/Finnish with Hungarian subtitles.

The Street


Many might know Hoxton purely because of the trendy urban bars set up here in the late 1990s, forerunner of an across-the-board gentrification as new-wave cafés and fashionable apartments replaced age-old family businesses. Uganda-born filmmaker Zed Nelson documents the rapid changes transforming this former bastion of urban poverty in East London, where the social and financial divide is growing ever wider. The Street is also a snapshot of Britain on the edge of change, the ageing white residents who tipped the balance in the Brexit vote, the years of austerity and the astronomical price of property or flat rental. Tuesday 9 March, 8.30pm. 94 minutes. English with Hungarian subtitles.

Photo: Budapesti Építészeti Filmnapok

The Real Thing


Subtitled Real Life in Fake Cities, this documentary by Franco-Italian filmmaker Benoit Felici looks at replicas of famous landmarks around the world. Taking stand-out examples such as a fake Eiffel Tower in Shanghai, a copy of St Peter’s in West Africa and a smaller Taj Mahal in Dubai, Felici begs the question, if we have no problem with the Romans copying the Ancient Greeks, then why do we think differently about European buildings in China? Saturday 13 March, 7pm. 67 minutes. In several languages with English subtitles.


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