Film

  • Face of a Nation: What Happened at the World's Fair?
  • GRANTEE
    Mina M. Chow & Mitchell Block
    GRANT YEAR
    2014

Mina Chow, film still from Face of a Nation, 2014, Flushing Meadows, NY. Courtesy of the artist.

Face of a Nation is an inquiry into national identity and the importance of its vision through the architecture of World's Fairs. This story asks key questions about perceptions of America's image and its role in the world since the end of the Cold War; the film traces how this image may have been compromised by examining controversial US Pavilion designs at World's Fairs for the last twenty-three years, which evidence a conflict rooted in lack of understanding in the design process against a background of excellence and ingenuity. Face of a Nation captures how good design communicates effectively, as well as how a lack of it destroys the best intentions. A story about the erosion of the American image is an allegory of an ailing country; the film introduces a debate about the importance of architectural vision as part of the immigrant American dream—how the pictures we take in front of iconic structures capture our hopes and dreams.

Mina M. Chow is a filmmaker, architect, and educator. She is principal of mc² SPACES, an interdisciplinary design and multimedia film, and she currently teaches at University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. Previously, she was an adjunct professor at Woodbury University and Santa Monica College. At Harvard University, she cotaught a graduate seminar and researched architectural theory; Chow is interested in expanding the awareness of architecture and design by highlighting the passion, sacrifice, and commitment its practitioners make to the work. Chow has created films for the American Institute of Architects and the USC School of Architecture, and is currently working on Brave New World, a series about innovative architecture. In 2014 she also directed the USC's 100 Years of Architecture. Her awards include the Peerless Award for Architectural Design, as well as film production grants from the California Architectural Foundation, the USC Architectural Guild, the USC US–China Institute, and the USC Ambassador's Fund.

Mitchell Block produced the 2011 Academy Award and multi-Emmy Award-nominated documentary Poster Girl. He conceived, cocreated, and was executive-producer of the 2008 PBS Emmy Award-winning ten-hour documentary feature series Carrier, and was executive-producer on HBO's 2001 Academy Award-winning film Big Mama. His Emmy Award-winning film No Lies was selected in 2008 for the National Register of Historical Films. He was a consultant on short and feature-length non-fiction projects for HBO/Cinemax from 1998–2005. As adjunct associate professor, he has been teaching independent film producing at USC's School of Cinematic Arts since 1979. His personal works are in the media collections of several thousand schools and libraries. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a founding member of British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles, and a life member of the University Film and Video Association and International Documentary Association. Mitchell Block handles distribution and marketing for hundreds of films—including twenty-five Academy Award-winners and seventy-one Academy Award-nominated films.