Festival info
Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio

USA, 2010, 57 min
Languages: English

Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas

Produced by Sarah Ann Mockbee, Jack Sanders

Cinematography by Dutch Rall

Starring Steve Badanes, Michael Rotondi, Peter Eisenman, Cameron Sinclair, Jimmie Lee Matthews, Coleman Coker, Jackie Mockbee, Carol Mockbee

In 1993 the late architect Samuel Mockbee started the Rural Studio at Auburn University, a design/build education program, in which students create striking architecture for impoverished communities in rural Alabama. Guided by frank, passionate interviews with Mockbee, the documentary shows how a group of students use their creativity, ingenuity and compassion to craft a home for their charismatic, destitute client, Jimmie Lee Matthews, known to locals as Music Man because of his zeal for R&B and Soul records. The film reveals that the Rural Studio is about more than architecture and building. Mockbee’s program provides students with an experience that forever inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities. Interviews with Mockbee’s peers and scenes with those he’s influenced infuse the film with a larger discussion of architecture’s role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, citizenship and social change.

Shannon Ridler - Movie Moxie
Renegade architects. Yes, renegade architects. That is the focus of Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio which shares the vision of the late Samuel Mockbee who founded the Rural Studio, which has a program that works to create housing for people in need and often makes it the shelters through recycled materials and innovative techniques. It's a beautiful portrait and vision that we see continues to carried on through the school. It also looks at architecture from different perspectives from interviews, and reveals that not everyone has the same vision and showcases different elitisms within the field and within housing in general

Toronto Globe and Mail
Sam Wainwright Douglas's doc is an absorbing, frequently moving, sometimes funny celebration of what can happen when architecture is practiced as a social art concerned with creature and spiritual comforts.
If one is looking for a rosier outlook for American ingenuity and cultural uplift through architecture you couldn't be more energized by any film than Sam Wainwright-Douglas' Citizen Architect.

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