Price: $310.00

    Code: 2216

    Directed by Fredrik Gertten (see also An Ordinary Family)
    2005, 59 minutes
    Purchase: $310 / Classroom Rental: $125

    The Socialist, The Architect and the Twisted Tower chronicles the intriguing (and twisted) story behind the design and construction of the "Turning Torso," Europe's tallest residential building, designed by world famous architect Santiago Calatrava.

    In Malmö, Sweden, Santiago Calatrava's "Turning Torso" is being built, a 624 foot-high residential building which uses nine five-story cubes that twist as they rise, with the top-most segment turned a complete ninety degrees clockwise from the ground floor. It is a spectacular structure and an even more spectacular project riddled with skyrocketing costs, outsized egos, and at its heart, a debate between new capitalism and old socialist ideals.

    For Calatrava, known primarily for public works (such as the Athens Olympic complex and the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub), it is an opportunity to design his first skyscraper. For the city of Malmö, and particularly for Johnny Orback, Board Chairman of the Malmo branch of the co-operative housing association (HSB), an organization rooted in the Swedish welfare tradition, it is a chance to become a European city of the 21st century, an example of a modern international metropolis with a fitting architectural monument at its center.

    For both men, there is plenty at stake. But as the project progresses, numerous problems come to the forefront. Costs are beginning to run wild, way over the agreed-upon budget; Calatrava is never available, always working on one of his many other projects; and for the HSB, the issue of whether this tower is worth it, whether its more important to spend the money on middle class housing, becomes more pressing everyday.

    The Socialist, the Architect, and the Twisted Tower documents this extraordinary struggle. As Calatrava fights for his integrity and vision, Johnny Orback attempts to placate the HSB, pressing for increased funds and trying to keep the project from getting abandoned mid-construction. It is a film as much about architecture as it as about the clashing of two radically different ideologies.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Documentary, Doc Fest, Festival di Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 2006
    * Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Int'l Documentary Festival Amsterdam, 2006
    * Official Selection, International Festival of Films on Art, Montreal, 2006


    "Calatrava is the most crowd-pleasing architect since Frank Gehry. His work, too, is dazzling and emotionally engaging." – Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker

    "The Socialist, the Architect, and the Twisted Tower is strong on insight into what it takes to create an architectural icon in the 21st century. An unflinching view... It is recommended, particularly for libraries with collections in architecture.” – Educational Media Reviews Online

    “An excellent film! The director, Fredrik Gertten, has obtained outstanding footage that shows, first hand, the kinds of problems thrown up when two visionaries attempt to create a landmark building…. This film will be relevant to anyone interested in architecture, regeneration and the work of Santiago Calatrava but above all, it is a riveting story well told.” – Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology

    The Socialist, The Architect and the Twisted Tower was awarded the Best Documentary prize for the originality and narrative rhythm with which the film investigates the artistic, economic, and human premises behind one of the great projects of contemporary architecture.” – Jury of Doc Fest, Festival di Palazzo Venezia

    Further Reading