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Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker and photographer based in New York. He has produced 13 feature documentaries, including the award-winning I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the band Wilco; Oddsac, an experimental feature film by the band Animal Collective; and Mavis!, the HBO documentary about gospel/soul music legend Mavis Staples. Gary worked with punk label SST Records in the late-1980s, releasing the music of bands like Black Flag, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. He ran the independent book publishing house Incommunicado Press during the 1990s, was Vice President of the media website Salon.com in 2000, and started the indie DVD label Plexifilm in 2001. Through Plexifilm, Gary released over 40 films theatrically and on home video, including work by the Maysles brothers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andy Warhol, and David Byrne.
In 2007 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, the world’s first feature-length documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the beginning of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about industrial design and product design following in 2009, and Urbanized, about the design of cities, in 2011. The films have been broadcast on PBS, BBC, HBO and television outlets in 20 countries, and have been screened in over 300 cities worldwide. Workplace, a documentary project about the future of the office, was commissioned for the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture. His most recent project is Rams, a film about German design legend Dieter Rams, featuring original music by Brian Eno, released in Fall 2018.
Gary’s films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the South by Southwest Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival, among others. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica, and has served on the grand juries of the Sundance Film Festival, the IFP Gotham Awards, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Gary was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. He is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
His film and photographic work has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Design Museum London, Venice Biennale, Paul Kasmin Gallery New York, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, and the Colette Gallery in Paris, among others.
2002 I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Executive Producer)
2003 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: Dirty Old Town (Executive Producer)
2004 Moog (Executive Producer)
2005 Drive Well, Sleep Carefully: On the Road with Death Cab for Cutie (Producer)
2006 Spend an Evening with Saddle Creek (Executive Producer)
2007 Helvetica (Director, Producer)
2009 Objectified (Director, Producer)
2010 Animal Collective’s Oddsac (Producer)
2011 Urbanized (Director, Producer)
2012 The Landfill (short) (Co-director)
2015 Mavis! (Executive Producer)
2016 Workplace (Director, Producer)
2017 This Is What the Future Looked Like (VR piece, Co-director, Co-producer)
2018 Design Canada (Executive Producer)
2018 Rams (Director, Producer)
2019 Jubilee (Music Video, Director, Producer)
“More than perhaps anyone, documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit has articulated the supreme importance of design in our world.”
– Fast Company
“The king of design documentaries... Hustwit’s 2007 breakout hit, Helvetica, all but launched the genre.”
– Wall Street Journal
“Cities and urban planning, typography and toothbrushes – American documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit is known for turning his enquiring lens on the things we take for granted and showing them in a new light, gaining him a cult following among the global design community.”