SXSW Film

Daily Reviews and Interviews

SXSW Film

Helvetica

D: Gary Hustwit

With beautiful cinematography, a kickass soundtrack, and one delightfully quotable interview after another, this little doc about a font is truly a work of art. Dedicated to Helvetica, the world's most ubiquitous typeface ("It's the default; you have to breathe, so you have to use Helvetica," says one designer), the film travels the globe to find places like Switzerland's Haas foundry, Helvetica's 1957 birthplace, and icons like Massimo Vignelli, the designer responsible for New York's subway signs. This one little font inspires such passion and eloquence in loyalists and detractors alike (graphic designer Paula Scher says using Helvetica once meant you were in favor of the Vietnam War), that it's hard to remember that Helvetica is simply a means to an end. Everywhere the camera points, there it is – from Crate&Barrel to IRS tax forms to Tokyo subways – and no matter which side of the fence designers fall on, they all seem to agree: Helvetica, san serif's "ultimate expression," casts a secret spell on us all.


10pm, Austin Convention Center

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