The Capitol acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. We respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)

The new TV season is imminent, so it’s an excellent time for a vintage refresher of the original Schlöndorff film, made in 1990, long before Elizabeth Moss donned her red robe. Fans of the book and TV series will be familiar with the futuristic, theocratic and dystopian United States, where fertility has become alarmingly rare and women able to bear children are forced into sexual slavery. Starring the glorious Faye Dunaway, Natasha Richardson, Robert Duvall and Aidan Quinn, there is no past-future more prescient than Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 

This film screens in a double bill with On Guard (1984). 

 

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

What is This?

Innovative design developed through and beyond function expands preconceived confines of “design” into realms that encompass artistic value, social & environmental attention and imaginative human experience. Creating an inhabitable space housing a series of activations, films, performances and public talks, the artists disrupt concrete definitions and formal delineations in design, opening fluid approaches intertwined with art and daily life that encourage communication, cooperation and change.

The artists would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri, Djab Wurrung, Gunditjmara, and Gulidjan peoples of the Kulin Nation as the traditional custodians of the unceded lands and waters, on which they live, create and exhibit their work, and pay their respect to all First Nations Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging.

Presented by The Capitol and RMIT University School of Art as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Soylent Green (1973) + Green Renaissance

6.00pm Green Renaissance panel talk:
To complement the Green Renaissance exhibition running at Queen Victoria Market, this panel discussion will speculate on the future of food and farming given predictions that the world could run out of quality topsoil in 60 years time.

Topsoil is the non-renewable resource we currently rely on to grow 95 percent of our food. Intensive farming practices and anthropogenic activities are in general to blame for the diminishment of this essential material. How will we feed ourselves when it runs out?

Moderated by Dr Ollie Cotsaftis, this speculative conversation features David Holmgren, environmental designer and co-originator of the permaculture concept; University of Melbourne Associate Professor Alex Johnson, a researcher in the fields of plant nutrition and bio-fortification; and RMIT University Dr Pirjo Haikola, a designer and a researcher working on regenerative marine design projects, and whose current work Urchin Corals is exhibited at the NGV Triennial.

7.30pm Soylent Green screening:
Richard Fleischer’s dystopian classic Soylent Green was made in 1973 but set in the ever-closer year 2022, when the cumulative effects of overpopulation, pollution and climate change have caused severe worldwide shortages of food.

In a densely overpopulated, starving New York City of the future, NYPD detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of an executive at rations manufacturer Soylent Industries, who control half the world’s food supply with artificially produced wafers. Only the elite can afford spacious apartments, clean water, and natural food – at inflated prices. The air is thick and green, and conscientious citizens don face masks when outside. Soylent Industries’ latest product is the nutritious ‘Soylent Green’, supposedly made from ocean plankton, but it’s in short supply, and hungry rioters take to the street, as the plot, and the air thickens.

Both film and panel ask: how will we feed ourselves in the not-too-distant future?

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

 

Bombay Beach (2011)

The film follows three men of varying ages try to figure out if they are a product of their world or if their world is a construct of their own imaginations. It also presents a vision of a dried-up-utopiaBombay Beach was once the destination of choice for the rich and famous; a glitzy holiday playground on shores of the massive Salton Sea lake in southern California. That was way-back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Since then, the lake has become ever more saline and the once-plush resort has fallen on times equally as hard as those of its present occupants. Har’el’s gentle, tender lens reframes what could be viewed as a modern dystopia, into a uniquely utopian skew on the beauty and importance of true community – and won Best Feature Documentary at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. 

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Gattaca (1997)

In the exquisitely designed Gattaca we are confronted with the plight of Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), who has always fantasised about travelling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a genetically inferior ‘in-valid’.  His solution is to purchase the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a laboratory-engineered ‘valid’, with superior DNA. This blackmarket ‘passport’ enables Vincent to join the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (Uma Thurman), and the helix starts to unravel. 

Gattaca imagines a world in the not too distant future to ours, where society is striated according to people’s genetic make-up, rather than class, race, gender or sexuality. This is an interesting idea as this difference is predicated not on something immediately visible, but rather something ‘hidden’. This is in distinct contrast to where society is oriented, where how you appear – the colour of your skin, even how you might dress or talk – is the main determiner of how you are treated and able to navigate the world, especially professionally and socially.

In Gattaca this schematic striation still determines one’s opportunities and success, and Freeman’s opportunity to travel to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is his dream made possible. He assumes the genetic identity of another, and the doors open for him. It is his inscribed passport. 

This idea echoes across current world events, and conversations about the introduction of ‘vaccine cards’: a card that must always be carried on the person, and those who possess them can access travel, the arts, sports, other life pleasures, that others may not. This is a conglomerate of science-fictions. 

This 1990s classic, with Hawke and Thurman in earned roles, foresaw some of the quandaries the Covid-19 pandemic has thrust upon our world and invites us to again think about the implications of such a stark organisation of inequality.

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

They Live (1989)

Carpenter’s low-budget thriller follows the vagrant Nada (Roddy Piper), who discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of Los Angeles, glasses on, Nada is horrified at the blunt subliminal messages being transmitted through media, advertising and government at every turn. Hilariously outrageous, shlocky and wearing its B-movie aesthetic on its sleeve, They Live heaps lively political and social commentary into its capitalist critique. If you’ve wondered if your phone is listening to you, grab your sunglasses for this film. 

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Fashion Film Awards Ceremony 2021

Join us at The Capitol for the Fashion Film Award Ceremony, where the Official Selection will be screened and Best Direction will be announced, followed by a panel discussion.

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
– Anna Cordell Fashion Film, Australia
– REPLICA, Australia
– [ LIGHTBALANCE ], Australia
– Brutal, Australia
– —-, Australia
– Modern Antiquities, Australia
– Stieglitz, Netherlands
– Genki dama, Peru
– Untilted, France
– RISQUES, France

On Guard (1984)

Set in Sydney, Susan Lambert’s politically charged feminist thriller On Guard (1984) follows four women on a mission to sabotage a supercomputer holding ten years’ worth of data on IVF research. On Guard saw a future (and responded to a recent past) in which women take back control of their reproductive systems, and livelihoods. Informed by the burgeoning women’s movement of the 1970s, the film posited a new world of radical feminism with the scrappy aesthetics of underground punk cinema. With Australian women recently rising up yet again with tales of high-level institutional violation, rape and other crimes recently reported, this film is as urgent and welcomed as ever. 

On Guard screens in a double bill with The Handmaid’s Tale (1990). 

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Silent Running (1972)

After the end of all botanical life on Earth, ecologist Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) maintains a greenhouse on a space station near Saturn in order to preserve various plants for future generations. Assisted by three robots and a small human crew, Lowell and his robots are forced to do anything necessary to keep their invaluable greenery alive.

Happily the outer-planetary pop-up gardens so mournfully depicted by Trumball have not come to pass. And what of the human race that cares so little for anything natural? This too is hard to conceive. Although, anticipating the development of sophisticated AI systems, the little robots that become Lowell’s sole companions have as much empathy for each other as the ecologist has for his beloved foliage (and certainly much more so than HAL-900 in the aforementioned space epic by Stanley Kubrick). Eminent astronomer Carl Sagan called out the film for its failure to reckon with the inverse-square law, in depicting its geodesic domes filled with dying flora as it hurtles towards Saturn. Still, the heart and concern (if not the scientific education) of Trumbull the artist cannot be ignored. Dystopian to its core, Silent Running palpably sounded the alarm about the fatal dangers of a future without life-giving greenery.

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name, in this society it’s the job of the firemen to keep the fires at 451 degrees: the temperature that paper burns. Oscar Werner plays Montag, a fireman who begins to re-think his job when he meets a book-loving teacher (Julie Christie).

François Truffaut’s film was the director’s first colour film and his only non-French language film, nominated for the Golden Lion at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. A box office failure, the film has since gained cult status as a beloved speculative classic as seen through the lens of the French New Wave.

Truffaut’s vision of a bookless society is less sci-fi and more allegory and morality tale than Bradbury’s, though the film won the latter’s approbation. Thankfully books have survived over 50 years later, although their centrality to everyday popular culture and society has waned as the world has shifted to digital-based pithy communications and stories. Fahrenheit 451 also taps into the growing proliferation of electronic visual culture as a means of entertainment and social nourishment, in the form of Linda, the firefighter Montag’s wife, as played by Julie Christie (also in a double role as Clarisse, the book-loving teacher who lures Montag into her world). Linda’s obsession with a proto-reality TV show that interacts with its audience, foresees the excesses of reality based “factual entertainment” of the early 2000s and IRL people-as-celebrities. Filled to the brim with contemporary references, the film delights as much as a portrait of 60s Swinging London as it does a warning of what could be if we don’t preserve the endlessly generous wonders of books.

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

 

Her (2013)

Her postulates a world in which romantic love can exist between humans and AI objects.

In Spike Jonze’s futuristic romance, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely and heartbroken writer, becomes captivated with his computer’s new operating system – a uniquely intuitive entity called Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), and a tender relationship develops between them.

Far from being a passive and compliant computer, Samantha is a seemingly organic and loving creature that gives Theodore the connection he is so deeply searching for. She also has no physical form, just a disembodied voice. Rather than examine the science behind how this can be, Jonze’s film instead asks questions about our inclination to fall in love through contactless connection. We can’t help but think of the countless instances of this phenomena happening every day on the internet, where people meet and fall in love with each other’s avatars, not knowing anything of their background or the totality of their lives. Such love is so realistically depicted in Jonze’s masterpiece (for which he also wrote the screenplay) in all its messy, contradictory and painful guises.

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.

Metropolis (1927)

The 1927 German expressionist science fiction classic directed by Fritz Lang.

In Lang’s influential science-fiction he presents a highly stylised futuristic city where a cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld. When the privileged youth Freder discovers the grim scene under the city, he becomes intent on helping the mistreated workers.

One of the most seminal and iconic films in all cinema history, Metropolis both responded to the previous decade of German revolutionary praxis and foresaw what was to come in the 20th century and beyond. With elites living in the stratosphere above a spectacular high-rise concrete megalopolis, workers toil subterraneously and discontent brews, this is the ultimate portrayal of late capitalist society in megacities such as New York, Dubai, Shanghai or London. In its depiction of masses being led to a Moloch-like fire, it resembles the most monstrous aspects of World War 2. The film is rich in formal and thematic ideas that would characterise the German expressionist cinema and remains today the benchmark of cinematic production design.

Screening on 35mm.

Past Futures curatorial notes —
What futures were past filmmakers imagining for our present world? And did those sci fi prophesies come true? All dreamers and designers start from a place of deep imagining.

In Past Futures we look at imagined dystopias and utopias that made their way into the collective conscious – into the design of now – and consider what might be in the making to come.

In our selection of sci fi visionaries, some classic, others populist, and still others perhaps idiosyncratic, we look away from the stuff of shiny space wars, and towards a survey of the social, political, technological, environmental, interpersonal and existential prophesies dreamed onto the cinema screen over the last century. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, these films offer “an arsenal of images for imagining the world.”

What worlds were filmmakers of the past envisioning for today? Which of these past-futures have materialised in shades of our lived realities? What do modern utopias and dystopias look like? Can cinema help us collectively design a world we want to see?

In curating this series my co-curator, Michelle Carey, and I considered the future worlds that filmmakers were envisioning in the past. In our selection you’ll find distinct visions from pasts that vary in length from way back to cinema’s silent beginnings, to just a moment or two ago.

The curated titles awakened a curiosity in us by way of each film’s aesthetic and philosophical design, some quixotic and wildly ambitious, others comparatively domestic while still suggesting a collective turn in consciousness or new ways of seeing and being. Our present is very much felt and reflected in these past futures.

What future visions are we projecting on screen, now?

Ghita Loebenstein
Creative Producer, The Capitol

Read More

Presented by The Capitol as part of Melbourne Design Week 2021, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV.