Most people would simply shout, “BORING!” at the mention of a conversation about a font. Fonts might not seem like it would be an interesting topic for a feature length documentary, however this is not the case. Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography centered on the typeface of the same name, but it also digs deep into graphic design and global visual culture while featuring excellent looks at the origins of the font and a look it its many uses. The film does an excellent job at illuminating the personalities that are behind typefaces. It also explores the rift between modernists and postmodernists, with the latter expressing and explaining their criticisms of the famous typeface. The documentary's soundtrack includes electronic music from Four Tet, The Album Leaf, Kim Hiorthøy, Caribou, Battles, Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake, and El Ten Eleven. This adds to the slick and unique style of Gray’s vision.
Directed by Gary Hustwit, it was released in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the typeface's introduction in 1957 and is considered the first of the Design Trilogy by the director. The second film in is Objectified, a documentary film about industrial design. The endcap to the trilogy is Urbanized which discusses the design of cities, looking at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world's foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. u
Gary Hustwit has produced eight feature documentaries, including the award-winning I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the band Wilco; Moog, the documentary about electronic music pioneer Robert Moog; and an experimental feature film with the band Animal Collective. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica.
His film and photography has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Design Museum London, The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, and the Colette Gallery in Paris, among others.
If you are interested to know more about Gray visit his website at hustwit.com.
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