Daughter of immigrants, an idealistic architect struggles to keep her dream alive as she journeys to discover why America abandoned World's Fairs.
For generations of Americans, World’s Fairs captured visions of hope for the future as part of their collective memory. Mina Chow became fascinated with World’s Fairs when she saw pictures of her parents at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Beginning with their stories, Mina shares this legacy and the American values that inspired her to become an architect.
She is excited to go to the 1st World's Fair in China. With over 73 million visitors, the Shanghai World Expo breaks all attendance records for any event in human history. But what she discovers there not only destroys her confidence as an American architect; it is symptomatic of a country that has lost its way. Mina is discouraged but she begins a search for answers.
Mina Chow is interdisciplinary faculty, a licensed architect and filmmaker who teaches 1st year building science studio and professional practice at USC. She has taught 1st and 2nd year design studio, architectural history and theory and served as Faculty Coordinator for Executive Education. She is principal of LA design/multi-media and production firm mc² SPACES, which has completed several international design and multi-media projects.
Mina is interested in expanding the awareness of architecture and design by bringing compelling and passionate stories about the built environment to film, television and multi-media. Her awards include production grants from the Graham Foundation in Chicago, the California Architectural Foundation, the USC Architectural Guild, the USC US-China Institute and the USC Ambassador's Fund. She has directed/produced films for the National Chapter and local chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the University of Southern California. She is completing FACE OF A NATION: "What Happened to the World's Fair?” a feature documentary about the erosion of America's international image in the loss of the World's Fair dream. In 2014, she directed the USC School of Architecture's "100 Years of Architecture" documentary. In 2011, she created BRAVE NEW WORLD: Architectural Icons of Los Angeles, a broadcast pilot about innovative architecture for the Mayor’s office in the city of Los Angeles.
Mina has worked for several innovative architecture firms including Eisenman Architects, and TsAO + McKOWN Architects in NYC. At UC Berkeley, she won the Peerless Award for Architectural Design, and was on the winning team for the Amerika Gedenkbibliothek International Library Design Competition. At Harvard University, she co-taught a graduate seminar with Diane Lewis and researched architectural theory with K. Michael Hays. She has collaborated on several design-media projects with the late Doug Michels of Ant Farm.
Mitchell Block has marketed and distributed numerous acclaimed films since the late 1970s including 60 Academy Award nominated or winning documentaries, shorts and animated films. He handled the primary marketing for numerous PBS classic works including all of the Ken Burns films prior to the Civil War, DeGrassi Jr. High and the DeGrassi High series, the Anne of Green Gables series and numerous American Masters and Experiences works. He is president of Direct Cinema Limited in Santa Monica. Block is producing the recently NEH funded Women of the Gulag with its director, and Vessel, produced by Block is being completed in 2014. This is feature length documentary filmed over the last seven years about Dr. Rebeca Gomperts, and her organization, Women on Waves, who sail a ship around the world to countries where abortion is illegal to confront their blocking choice for women. The film has received support from Chicken and Egg Pictures and Impact Partners. Block produced the 2011 Academy Award and multiple Emmy nominated documentary film Poster Girl. Block conceived, co-created & is an executive producer of the 2008 PBS Emmy Award-winning 10-hour documentary series Carrier the companion documentary feature. He was a consultant on short & feature nonfiction projects for HBO/Cinemax from 1998-2005. He’s been teaching independent film producing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts since 1979. He was an executive-producer on HBO's 2001 Academy Award-winning film Big Mama. No Lies, produced & directed by Block, was selected in 2008 for the National Register of Historical Films, films selected from 1973 include: American Graffiti, Badlands, Mean Streets and The Sting. It won an Emmy in 1975. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Television Academy, a founding member of BAFTA-LA, and a life member of the UFVA & IDA. Block holds a BFA and MFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, MBA from Columbia University and did his doctoral studies at UCLA in film history, criticism, theory and business. He was also a founding producing fellow at the AFI.
Alessandra Pasquino, Producer graduated in Fine Arts (Middlesex Polytechnic, London) with a focus on Performance and Video Art. Her collaborative video work and still photography have been featured in the NEW CONTEMPORARIES SHOW at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. She has over 20 years of experience as a producer in California working on TV commercials and advertising. She was a founder member of PAVLOV, a boutique commercial production company backed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, where she produced commercials for Kelloggs, McDonalds, Nabisco, Chrysler, Range Rover etc… Alessandra has managed a diverse range of independent projects at varying stages of development for Oliver Stone, Leonardo Di Caprio, Wayne Wang, the USC School of Architecture, Suzanne Kiley, Ashes and Snow, Klaus Kinski, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, CBS, ABC and Disney. Currently Alessandra is a freelance producer, dedicated to content development and ‘on the ground’ production for various clients. She works for ELEMENTAL Productions, a company committed to exploring and making documentaries on the effects of globalization on culture and health in various developing countries. Alessandra is also the founder of dZi Media Ventures, a collaboration devoted to developing and producing Alessandra’s own fiction and documentary projects. Throughout her life Alessandra has maintained a strong bond and passion for the outdoors and for mountain cultures. She has climbed widely in the Alps and Sierras. Her mountaineering endeavors in the Himalayas have included climbing on the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest with a non-commercial expedition.
NEWS & UPDATES
09-30-16 Our composer is creating our original score.
07-07-17 We completed our film! 7 years in the making.
07-27-17 We are waiting to hear from a few select film festivals.
09-25-17 We are world-premiering at the Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF) in NYC on Nov. 3-4, 2017!
11-30-17 Our World Premiere was a HUGE SUCCESS!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for coming to the screenings at the Cinepolis in Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC!
We will be announcing other screenings soon!
12-22-17 We have an upcoming screening in Washington, DC at the ADFF DC on February 25, 2018.
We also have upcoming screenings in Los Angeles at the ADFF LA between March 14-18, 2018.
The documentary film FACE OF A NATION couldn't be more timely. It comes at a moment when the United States seems to be turning inward and pursuing a new kind of isolationism. This film illustrates that part of America's greatness has long been affirmed by its generous outreach to the world through international engagement and more particularly by proactive, creative participation in expositions around the globe.
--Roger K. Lewis, Washington Post columnist, Shaping the City
Why has the U.S. stopped participating in World's Fairs? FACE OF A NATION traces the penny-wise, pound-foolish lack of participation from the point of view of a true patriot. Mina Chow wants American ideals to shine on the world stage again, and you will too after seeing her troubling but ultimately hopeful journey. Everyone should experience her passion, and ask the questions in this important film.
--Fred Bernstein, NY Times/WSJ/Architectural Record
As America’s image abroad becomes increasingly ugly, this urgently dispiriting but ultimately tender and optimistic film is a reminder of the days in which we put our best face forward in the magnificent pavilions that were once the stars of World’s Fairs. FACE OF A NATION blisteringly depicts the humiliating, U.S. representation that has become the norm for our participation, recalling when we proudly showed what was truly superb about our design culture, that used to mesmerize and inspire millions.
--Michael Sorkin, Village Voice/NY Times/Metropolis/Vanity Fair
My earliest memory was a narrow escalator (narrow even for a four year old in 1939) going up within the Perisphere, designed by two of the most prominent architects of their day - Harrison and Abramowitz - at the New York City World’s Fair and viewing the "City of Tomorrow." I have that memory in my head, it has been with me my whole life — a life of architecture, urban design, and communications. World’s Fairs and America’s involvement in them has formed a seminal part of my life. To lose that wonder is a national tragedy, a tragedy that FACE OF A NATION exposes.
--Richard Saul Wurman, TED Conference Founder
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We have a far-reaching goal to raise awareness about the power of design diplomacy on a global scale. The American dream for a better life is based upon the values of freedom and democracy which have incited revolutions in other countries. Our dream continues to inspire the world. A nation founded upon immigrant hopes for a better life needs constant reigniting about what really is important.
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