Helvetica & more: Gary Hustwit's documentaries available to all during the COVID crisis
"Helvetica is a cinematic exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type. Helvetica encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day" reads the intro to a documentary available to all screens as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.
Streaming from March 17 to 24 "Helvetica" is filmmaker's Gary Hustwit critically acclaimed feature-length documentary about typography, graphic design and global visual culture.
Hustwit announced he will be streaming his documentaries free worldwide during the global COVID crisis with a new title available to all each Tuesday.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, I've decided to stream my films for free to viewers stuck indoors, anywhere in the world. I'll be streaming a new movie every week, starting today with Helvetica. Stay safe and strong, we're gonna get through this.https://t.co/czBBoFqvQE pic.twitter.com/lrgl0Sq4Dv— Gary Hustwit (@gary_hustwit) March 18, 2020
This week's movie looks at the proliferation of Helvetica as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.
Featuring interviews with some of the most illustrious and innovative names in the design world -Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Michael C. Place, Norm, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Bruno Steinert, Otmar Hoefer, Leslie Savan, Rick Poynor, and Lars Müller- the film has toured film festivals, special events, and art house cinemas worldwide, playing in over 300 cities in 40 countries.
"The real achievement of the film is the way it sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life" wrote Chicago Tribune of the film which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2007.
"Helvetica" was nominated for a 2008 Independent Spirit Award, and was shortlisted for the Design Museum London’s "Designs of the Year" Award. An excerpt of the film was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Helvetica, the font, was developed by Max Miedinger with Edüard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland.
In the late 1950s, the European design world saw a revival of older sans-serif typefaces such as the German face Akzidenz Grotesk.
Haas’ director Hoffmann commissioned Miedinger, a former employee and freelance designer, to draw an updated sans-serif typeface to add to their line.
The result was called Neue Haas Grotesk, but its name was later changed to Helvetica, derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland, when Haas’ German parent companies Stempel and Linotype began marketing the font internationally in 1961.
Introduced amidst a wave of popularity of Swiss design, and fueled by advertising agencies selling this new design style to their clients, Helvetica quickly appeared in corporate logos, signage for transportation systems, fine art prints, and myriad other uses worldwide.
Inclusion of the font in home computer systems such as the Apple Macintosh in 1984 only further cemented its ubiquity.
Stay home, stay safe and watch this space for a brand new insightful documentary every Tuesday.