My Father the Genius
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(Apr 10, 2007)
When estranged father, dreamer, and visionary architect Glen Howard Small bequeaths his daughter the task of writing his biography, she answers instead with a provocative film about his precarious career and thorny private life. At 31, Glen Small, founder and faculty member of the internationally acclaimed Southern California Institute of Architecture, was a rising star. At 61, he can barely pay his bills.
In the tradition of My Architect and The Royal Tenenbaums, filmmaker Lucia Small digs deep to explore the delicate tension between her father's obligations to family and his life-long passion to "save the world through architecture."
"An intensely personal and risk taking film." -- --Alan Deutschman, Salon.com
A real-life The Royal Tenenbaums." -- -Peter Keough, The Boston Phoenix
"HILARIOUS AND HEART-WRENCHING." -- --Scott Foundas, Variety --Scott Foundas, Variety
"PoIGNANT, QUIRKY, HILARIOUS." -- --Louise Kennedy, The Boston Globe --Louise Kennedy, The Boston Globe
- Filmmaker and Father interview
- 1970's Mini-Movie: Super-8 Biomorphic Biosphere film with commentary by architect Glen Small
- Architects on Glen Small: Includes interview with 2005 Pritzker-winner Thom Mayne
- Photo Gallery: Narrated slide-show
- Sundance Channel¹s Aftereffect
- Genius II Teaser
- Scene Selections
- Closed Captioning
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Glen knew from an early age that he wanted to be an architect - but not just any architect. He wanted to change the way we live by making our dwellings more ecologically friendly. Unfortunately, Glen's obsession with architecture left little room for family. He divorced Lucia's mother and was largely absent from the lives of their three daughters.
Glen Small's career got off to a roaring start by winning notoriety for his early designs and co-founding the Southern California Institute of Architecture. In the film, Small's ex-students laud him for his "hands on" approach to teaching. Along the way, he designed his magnum opus - the biomorphic biosphere.
Then things went bad. The "biomorphic biosphere" was never built. Small was fired from his faculty position. Several relationships crumbled. He attempted to start over by starting his own architecture firm, but he attracted few clients and his heart wasn't in it, anyway. At the time of the filming, Small was desperate for money.
My Father, the Genius explores Small's overarching ambitions and the twisted relationships that arose as a result. In a striking scene, the viewer sees a 1976 film of Small speaking during a meeting with other architects in which he makes brutal comments about the other attendees and their work. Small's three daughters all have negative feelings about his absence from their lives, but their father is less-than contrite, noting at one point that "families come and go." The viewer's heart breaks for Small's daughters. Also, the viewer begins to understand how he sabotaged a promising life.
The film is consistently interesting and the viewer is left with a lot to think about after it ends. I recommend My Father, the Genius.