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“Clean Lines, Open Spaces” Screens at LRFF, 8 p.m. Tonight

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"Clean Lines, Open Spaces" explores the mid-century modern architecture of Arkansas; illustration by Rachel Koops 

 “Clean Lines, Open Spaces: A View of Mid-Century Modern Architecture” – a documentary focusing on the construction produced in the boom following the United States’ recovery from World War II – will be featured as a spotlight presentation at the Little Rock Film Festival Studio Main location on Friday, June 1, at 8 p.m. A second screening will be held Saturday, June 2, at 11 a.m. in the Riverdale 10 Cinemas, screen #7. 

Produced by AETN’s Mark Wilcken, “Clean Lines, Open Spaces,” focuses on post-war construction explosion – a time of optimism and hope for the future. Mid-century architects captured these feelings in their bold new designs, many of which reflected the International style that began developing in Europe prior to World War I. This new architecture used modern materials, such as reinforced concrete, glass, and steel and was defined by clean lines, simple shapes, and unornamented facades. 

“‘Clean Lines, Open Spaces’ is unique and challenging,” AETN Executive Producer Carole Adornetto said. “Buildings talk, but how do you convey what inanimate structures of steel and concrete are saying?"

The documentary looks at examples of mid-century modern architecture around the state – from the University of Arkansas's Fine Arts Center, designed by Arkansas native and internationally known architect Edward Durell Stone, to the Tower Building in Little Rock; the Fulbright Library in Fayetteville that reflects the aesthetics of famous Chicago architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe; and the abandoned Hotel Mountainaire – which perfectly define art moderne.

“One of the remarkable things to note [is] that modernism came out of a belief that there could be a utopian code for architecture, that there could be one right way to build,” Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, associate dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, stated.

The film features artistic HD photography by Gabe Mayhan and a playful, yet scholarly script by Wilcken.

“I wanted to do this documentary because I didn't think mid-century modern architecture was getting the recognition it deserved,” Wilcken said. “For people from my generation, this is the kind of architecture we saw growing up.

“These were the shopping malls, doctors’ offices, banks and houses that we visited as children. Like anything related to childhood, they occupy a special place in my heart and memories.”

Major funding for “Clean Lines, Open Spaces: A View of Mid-Century Modern Architecture” was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council, with additional funding from the Arkansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The film is the second AETN production to be selected for an LRFF screening.