City of Dreams (2005)

Genres - Culture & Society, History  |   Sub-Genres - Architecture & Design, Social History  |   Run Time - 52 min.  |   Countries - United States  |  
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Synopsis by Jason Buchanan

Technical filmmaking know-how combines with spiritual knowledge of directors Ruby Ofori and Edward Scott's ancestral homes to offer a visual history Asmara, Africa's remarkable architecture. A city that is the sight of roughly 400 architecturally significant structures, Asmara was inspired by Mussolini's vision of recreating the Roman Empire in Africa, and was designed by the top Italian architects and engineers of the 1930s. Given unprecedented freedom that allowed them to experiment with new forms, men such as Guiseppe Pettazzi created a variety of whimsical buildings including a gas station that takes on the visage of an airplane. Though many skeptics speculated that these unconventional buildings would soon collapse, they soot to weather thirty years of civil war and two years of fighting against Ethiopia before slowly succumbing to the corrosive effects of poverty and the passage of time. In addition to offering rarely seen footage of the city's construction and offering candid insight into the history of Asmara though personal testimonies, Ofori and Scott's lovingly-crafted documentary also features archival photographs from the vaults of the world's oldest photo agency, Archivo Alinari.

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Keywords

Africa, architecture, archival-footage, building, city, civil-war, colonialism, construction, Italian [nationality], legacy, perspectives, poverty