Architect I.M. Pei guides us through his creative process as he works, at the age of 92, on his serene, white Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. Beware: this film is designed to make you want to travel to Cairo, Córdoba and Qatar.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
In 2008, a new building by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei was unveiled in Doha, Qatar: The Museum of Islamic Art. Pei, best known for his glass and steel pyramid at the Louvre, is an inveterate explorer of diverse cultural traditions. The puckish 92-year-old takes us on an uncommonly detailed exploration of his creative process, from deep immersion in Islamic architecture and consideration of the quality of desert light to his experimentation with traditional geometric forms, to the multiple collaborations and on-the-spot problem-solving that go hand in hand with turning an idealised vision into a real building. The documentary is exquisitely shot, serving, en route to Qatar, as an introduction to the grandeur of such masterpieces as the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Córdoba. Though the film, with its intermittent boosterish narration, is a thinly designed ruse to make you want to visit his magnificent museum, the generous, animated presence of Pei himself prevails and captivates. — AL/BG