CAPITAL: A CITY SYMPHONY, 2010, 72 min.
A film by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Joe Bender.
New York City Premiere
What does it mean for a nation to start anew? For Kazakhstan, the answer is to build Astana, the world’s youngest capital, a utopian city of the future where skyscrapers and cranes stretch as far as the eye can see. Construction workers, TV reporters, and official tour guides spend their lives in the service of this city-in-progress. Capital tells the story of Kazakhstan’s new capital as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. Military parades, monumental architecture, song competitions, and human pyramids are only one side of the story; the other tells of thousands of migrants arriving to take part in their nation’s new experiment. They come to Astana to build its golden monuments, to keep its markets closed long after dark, and to push the city’s frontiers deeper into the empty plains. Longtime residents watch as a glistening new city rises up across the river and their dusty Soviet village turns into a “pearl of the steppe.” As fear over the global financial climate spreads, leaving construction sites empty and the future of Kazakhstan’s dream city uncertain, the residents find themselves caught between the official vision of Astana and the realities of life on utopia’s outskirts.
Cast in India, 2014, 26 min.
Directed, Produced, Shot, and Edited by Natasha Raheja
Iconic and ubiquitous, thousands of manhole covers dot the streets of New York City. Enlivening the everyday objects around us, this short film is a glimpse of the working lives of the men behind the manhole covers in New York City.
Screenings and Awards:
Margaret Mead Film Festival, Codes and Modes: The Character of Documentary Culture, DOC NYC Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival
International Documentary Association Best Student Documentary Nominee, Social Impact Media Awards Short Documentary Special Mention
Maxim Pozdorovkin is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and media curator based in New York City. His documentary PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Award. Released theatrically around the world, the film was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Maxim holds a PhD from Harvard University for a dissertation on Soviet newsreel and is currently an artist fellow at Harvard’s Society of Fellows. Maxim’s most recent film, THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT, about the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and has been shown at festivals around the world and will released in August 2015. Maxim’s first feature film, CAPITAL, is a modern-day city symphony about the construction of Astana, a utopian city in the center of Kazakhstan. Recent curatorial work includes designer Julia Ramsey’s knitwear installation PELT as well as Flicker Alley’s Landmarks of Early Soviet Film box-set.
Maxim is an executive producer on HBO’s upcoming Bolshoi Babylon.
Joe Bender is a filmmaker, cinematographer and media artist whose work spans documentary and transmedia, from the contemporary city symphony CAPITAL to the multimedia platform THE GUN SHOW and music videos for Pussy Riot and The Budos Band. Joe holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he is a postdoctoral fellow. His current projects include FORWARD TO BETTER DAYS, the story of the militant film collective Audiopradif, and DIFFERENCE ENGINE, a meditation on randomness and prediction at the frontiers of science and technology.
Natasha Raheja is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at New York University with a Certificate in Culture and Media. Her research interests are in the areas of migration, material flows, and belonging. In Cast in India, she raises questions around the disparate conditions that shape the geographies of production of everyday urban objects. How does the built infrastructure of New York City conceal the labor infrastructure on which it stands?
Bradley Samuels is a founding partner of SITU Studio and Director of SITU Research. The practice, founded in 2005 and based in Brooklyn, remains committed to material investigation as well as research and writing. SITU was selected as one of six interdisciplinary teams to participate in the current MoMA exhibition UnevenGrowth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities and recently presented L+ as part of a design study, Re-envisioning Branch Libraries co-sponsored by the Center for an Urban Future and The Architectural League of New York. SITU has received numerous awards including Interior Design Best of Year in 2014 and 2011 as well as an award for Excellence in Design by the Art Commission of the City of New York. The firm was a recipient of the 2014 Emerging Voices Award from The Architectural League of New York and their work has been featured in the Architectural Record, Domus, Dwell, Interior Design, The New York Times, Surface magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Bradley teaches in the undergraduate architecture program at Barnard/Columbia College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Vassar College and a Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union.
Urban Omnibus is the Architectural League’s online publication dedicated to defining and enriching the culture of citymaking. Through weekly long-form features and periodic short-form posts, we explore projects and perspectives in architecture, planning, art, policy, and activism – tried and tested in New York City – that offer new ways of understanding, representing, and improving urban life and landscape worldwide.