City Visions: A season of films, talks and debates exploring modern cities, Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre, London

50% of the earth’s population live in urban centres, a figure that is predicted to rise to over 75% by 2050; City Visions is a series of films, talks and debates that celebrate the energy of modern cities whilst exposing memorable images of urban decay and deprivation. The season engages with conversations around architecture, urban planning and globalisation, and will run alongside the Barbican Art Gallery exhibition Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age.

City Visions opens with a special preview screening of Cathedrals of Culture: an innovative six part 3D film which offers startling responses to the question: “if buildings could talk, what would they say about us?” Screenings are accompanied by Screentalks, introductions, panel discussions and live musical accompaniment from eminent authors, artists, directors, musicians and composers from all over the world.

Introductions include journalist and playwright Bonnie Greer talking about Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing; and filmmaker and author Richard Misek introducing his documentary Rohmer in Paris. This film explores director Éric Rohmer’s lifelong relationship with the world’s most cinematic city, Paris, and links to a screening of Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon and other screenings of Jean Luc Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine.

City Visions crosses continents with Jia Zhangke’s bloody and bitter film A Touch of Sin building a portrait of a rapidly expanding China, and Libbie D. Cohn’s People’s Park, which takes us on a single-shot journey through a bustling urban park in Chengdu city.

South America’s changing landscape is celebrated in Precise Poetry/Lina Bo Bardi’s Architecture which looks at the Bardi’s projects in São Paulo, and a UK premiere of São Paulo, A Metropolitan Symphony – screened for the first time in 85 years with live piano accompaniment by Clélia Iruzan.

The cinematic world of the USA becomes a focal point with Richard Martin introducing David Lynch’s anxiety drenched, LA based Mulholland Drive, while the 10th Anniversary of Thom Andersen’s remastered Los Angeles Plays Itself weaves together clips from hundreds of movies to build a fascinating argument about Hollywood representation of LA.

City Visions will then celebrate New York with Jem Cohen NYC Films – 30-years of NY-based footage compiled by the music video director; Woody Allen’s love-letter to the city Manhattan; and the silent short Manhatta, based on a poem by Walt Whitman and joining Barbican’s cycle of 1920s silent films known as City Symphonies.

Finally, audiences can vote to see their favourite city film screened at the Barbican on Saturday 27 September, alongside the 3-minute films made by readers from cities around the world as part of Guardian Cities film competition.

City Visions: A season of films, talks and debates exploring modern cities around the world. 25 September to 8 October 2014. Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre, London. For more information visit

Follow us on Twitter @AestheticaMag for the latest news in contemporary art and culture.

1. Image © Nadav Kander, 2006.