SAH Award for Film and Video

SAH Award for Film and Video Architecture

Recognizing the most distinguished film on the built environment

The SAH Award for Film and Video was established in 2013 to recognize annually the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment.

Winner of the 2014 SAH Award for Film and Video: Unfinished Spaces

Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, Unfinished Spaces, Bullfrog Films, 2011

The SAH award for Film & Video is presented to Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray for their film Unfinished Spaces. Their film takes us back to the birth of Cuba’s National Art Schools in 1961, a time when post-revolution Cuba was full of promise, and devoted to supporting the arts. The complex of schools was conceived by Fidel Castro and Che Guevera, who immediately chose three architects and a site. The building designs were radical, tapping into multiple influences, and were rapidly inhabited by budding musicians, dancers, visual artists and actors. However, changes in Cuba’s political relations and overall climate interfered with completion, and the past fifty years have included near-abandonment and re-discovery. Unfinished Spaces presents a concise history of 20th-century Cuba through the lens of this fascinating subject. Through the filmmakers’ use of rich archival and contemporary texts, film, and still images, we meet the schools’ architects then and now, and watch the intriguing, and frustrating, journey they take.

The selection committee was impressed with the coverage and treatment of this worthwhile subject, and unanimously agreed on Unfinished Spaces as the first recipient for this new award. It encompasses everything the award founder and the committee hoped to see in their selection.

Official Website:
Bullfrog Films: Unfinished Spaces
Twitter: @UnfnshdSpaces

Award Information

The SAH Award for Film and Video was established in 2013 to recognize annually the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment. 

Criteria for Submission: The award is global in scope with no geographic or political boundaries limiting subject matter or production team. The topic of the film or video must be any aspect of the built environment including the history of buildings, interiors, monuments, landscapes, cultural landscapes, urbanism, designers, engineers, clients, preservation, conservation, citizen engagement, or other topics related to the history of the built environment. Films and videos representing a wide range of methodologies will be considered including documentaries, critiques, theoretical works and documentary recreations of lost sites. Films and videos, including those with a K-12 educational focus, by independent directors and producers also are welcome. 

Films or videos must have an initial release date within the past three years (2010, 2011 or 2012). Honorable Mentions may also be awarded. 

Entries for consideration will be submitted on a DVD to the award committee and the SAH office by the director, producer or producer’s distributor.

Nominees also will submit a 250-500-word narrative that addresses the goals of the film/video, the intended audience, where the work has been screened/aired/viewed, and what kind of response the work has received. 

Criteria for Award: The most important criterion is the work’s contribution to the understanding of the built environment, defined either as deepening that understanding or as bringing that understanding to new audiences. A second criterion is a high standard of research and analysis, whether the production was for a scholarly audience, a general audience, or both.  A third criterion is excellence in design and production.

The Award: The Award will consist of a certificate and citation that will be presented at the Awards Ceremony at the Society’s Annual Conference. Following the presentation, the Award will be announced in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the SAH Newsletter, and on the SAH website. The winning film or video will become part of the Society’s permanent archive, housed in the library at the Society’s headquarters, Charnley-Persky House, in Chicago.

The Committee
: The Award Committee will be appointed by the president of the Society of Architectural Historians. One DVD copy of the nominated film or video, along with the completed nomination form, should be sent to each committee member and the SAH office.

APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2015 AWARD open June 1, 2014.