When fashion and film unite, expect the unexpected. The Giorgio Armani brand is a long-time patron of the arts, and now the company is promoting emerging filmmakers through its Films of City Frames initiative. The project assembled six teams of students from some of the world’s best film schools to create shorts inspired by urban life and Armani’s new Frames of Life eyewear collection. The short films were presented at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last month.
“The originality we see in these films, the breadth of expression, it’s amazing,” says Roberta Armani, Giorgio Armani’s niece, who hosted the premiere party atop the CN tower during TIFF’s opening weekend alongside filmmaker and producer Edward Zwick. “It’s the future of film.” The films were produced and directed by students from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (New York); the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles; the United Kingdom’s National Film and Television School; Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome; Esra, Ecole Supérieure de Réalisation in Paris; and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Academy Award–winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino set the gold standard in mentoring the students. “I felt that Paolo would be the best person to share this project with,” said Giorgio Armani earlier this year, at the announcement of the project. “He has a clear and inspiring view of reality; he captures the most exciting and poetic aspects of everyday life with a neat, contemporary style. Above all, I think that Paolo embodies the real magic of cinema, which is a barrier-free language: he speaks to everyone, but with an undeniably Italian eye. And this is precisely what we wanted students to grasp: the importance of having a personal perspective.”
With its unique position in the milieu of film culture, Toronto was the ideal city to host the premiere of Films of City Frames. It is Roberta’s intention that the city of Toronto and its passionate film community will play an important role in the project going forward. “It’s exciting to place aspiring filmmakers alongside all the famous legends at the Toronto International Film Festival—a launch pad for so many important global films,” she says. “TIFF and Toronto are both world-class. Bringing young formative cinema talent to Toronto is in perfect focus for me.”
The students were given the task of creating short films that feature spontaneous moments, metropolitan cityscapes, and a range of emotions, using Giorgio Armani’s Frames of Life glasses as a perceptual filter. Among the six entries were a wordless account of a day in the life of a photographer in Paris, a narrative of the countless missed connections on the streets of New York, and a nearly silent look at aging in Hong Kong. A unique mix of stories, the films are made up of a montage of moments, driven by surprisingly complex emotions.
Juliet, the hypnotic entry from up-and-coming British director Rose Glass and her team, was a crowd favourite. The short follows a florist who has a chance encounter on a London street, where improvisation and impulsiveness pays off big time. John Berardo’s film iLA was also particularly arresting; set in a futuristic and bustling Los Angeles, a paparazzi embarks on a quest to capture the money shot of an elusive A-List star.
“I have always thought that there is a close relationship between fashion and cinema, as they share a great power of fascination and the ability to create imagery,” Giorgio has said. “The image of the stars on the screen is conveyed not only by their behavior, but also by what they wear.” In each vignette, Armani eyewear becomes more than just a physical frame through which we look at the world. The frames act as a tool to help live each moment intensely, and eyewear becomes synonymous with point of view, an instrument used to emphasize feelings and to tell stories of engaging encounters and urban aesthetics.
The six featured films from the Armani Films of City Frames project can be viewed online.