CROSSROADS: Life in the Resilient City by Nils Clauss & Neil Dowling


We are happy to share our latest short film titled CROSSROADS : Life in the Resilient City with you. The film was commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitain Government in order to premiere at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in 2021 (SBAU 2021).

This film is inspired by the theme of SBAU 2021 titled “CROSSROADS, Building the Resilient City” by French architect Dominique Perrault with the aim of promoting more responsible urban growth. This press-kit provides more information about our project, including an interview that dives into some of the ideas behind and the making of this film.

Five cities. Five stories. This documentary looks at the urban experience from the perspective of people living at the interface of the changing world. In New York, Seoul, Mumbai, Paris and Nairobi creativity and imagination is necessary to survive and thrive as the cities they live in constantly evolve.

Director’s Statement
When we first heard about the theme for the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2021, CROSSROADS, Building the Resilient City, and Dominique Perrault’s Five Crossroads (Above / Below – Heritage / Modern – Craft / Digital – Natural / Artifical – Safe / Risk), that are key components, fault lines, interfaces of the city, we thought that we should avoid the most obvious choice.

That would have been to interview experts and illustrate the points they made with images and examples from cities around the world. Instead we felt that it was important to make a film that looked at the human experience at these Crossroads, where the city is changing both physically and culturally, where technology, resources, inequality, population growth, all play a role in the mix of how people adapt and modify their habits and behaviours and shape their surroundings to fit the new realities.

As well as working in commercial and documentary genres we also have experience and a big interest in what we call creative non-fiction or creative documentary. That is using a documentary approach and mixing that with scripted elements. To a certain extent this dramatises the true lived experiences and makes them more impactful. We had previous experience working this way and felt it could be an effective approach for this project.

Part of our objective was to make a film that could be a conversation starter, a way to provoke debate. Since the Biennale is also asking participants to imagine possibilities for a better urban experience for everyone, we also felt like this creative non-fiction approach could also help us to dig into the characters imagination. So in each story our main character sets out a problem and then seeks a solution, sometimes it’s a practical solution and sometimes a solution that is just an idea, or they are just visualising how things could be better.

But ideas and imagination are an important ingredient in all creative pursuits not least architecture and design, and this film also encourages the viewer to think creatively about the resilient city and about their own city wherever that may be. Source by Nils Clauss & Neil Dowling and images Courtesy of Nils Clauss.

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