Review: “Women in Architecture” is short but sweet

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      The Georgia Straight is a proud media sponsor of ADFF Vancouver 2023.

      When Toshiko Mori was a young architect in the 1970s, she was sent on a construction project in Manhattan. Donning her hard hat each day, she felt distinctly like she didn’t belong in what was clearly a boy’s club—so much so that one of the men said to her one day that “accidents happen.” As if her being there was a mistake.

      The industry of architecture has certainly come a long way since then, but many would argue it hasn’t moved far enough. This push and pull is the subject of Women in Architecture: a film by Swiss director Boris Noir that premiered in 2022 and is showing at this year’s Architecture and Design Film Festival in Vancouver.

      Featuring interviews with Mori, who is based in New York City (and worked on such gorgeous structures as the Brooklyn Public Library); Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge, who is based in Berlin; and Gabriella Carrillo, who is based in Mexico City, Women in Architecture is a 20-minute rumination on what it means to be a working woman.

      Meyer-Grohbrügge and Carrillo both have children, and their identities as mothers and architects play central in the film. At first it feels cliche—a film about successful women is really a film about the meaning of motherhood—but it quickly opens up into the crux of the issue for any child-rearing person considering pregnancy: why is our society designed to prevent us from doing both?

      Among all three women, there is one theme that stands out: freedom. Freedom through work, freedom through creativity, freedom through identity. How to achieve freedom, and how to push against it in the pursuit of greatness.

      Beautifully shot with expansive and interesting views of the cities these women call home (and the buildings they helped bring to life), Women in Architecture’s only problem is that it will leave you wanting more: more time, more structures, more designs, more moments. More women.

      Women in Architecture shows with Clodagh at the VIFF Centre on November 11 and 7pm and November 12 at 3pm as part of the Architecture and Design Film Festival.