Switzerland | 2016 | 82 mins | English, German, Hindi | Director and Guest Attending
For the past two decades, American-born architect Didi Contractor has been combining rural tradition with modern domestic needs to realise her visions in the Kangra Valley, below Dharamshala. This poetic documentary introduces us to her creations—houses built from clay, bamboo, slate and river stone, constructed in tribute to their natural surroundings. At the age of 86, Didi works day and night—dreaming her designs then designing her dreams. She intially produces rough sketches which are later proportioned with pinpoint accuracy—the blueprints for economically and ecologically sustainable, bright and well-ventilated buildings. In the course of her work, Didi has been visited by students from around the world, who come to learn traditional building practices and find out how architecture can become a part of the ecosystem.
Steffi Giaracuni was born in 1975 in Heiligenstadt, Germany. She studied media design at Bauhaus University, Weimar, and documentary filmmaking at the ZeLIG School, Bolzano, Italy. Steffi has previously directed the documentary shorts NelkenfürReisch (2003) and ZwischenKommen und Gehen (2011). She currently lives in Basel, Switzerland. Reflecting on Didi Contractor and her work, Steffi says, “Her houses are convincing evidence of a possible alternative way of life. In order to understand how daily decisions can influence our environment, I wanted to explore her experiences, to know how and where she lives and works, with whom she communicates, and what interests and influences motivate her to build these mud houses … With this film I would like to inspire people to explore and to support their own unusual imaginative ideas.”