Gary Hustwit: Helvetica

Why is it that I – without really reflecting upon it – always choose helvetica as my font when I write emails or write a text on this site? Why don’t I take Lucida Bright or TrueOfficinaSansBooKItalic or Times New Roman?

This informative and entertaining feature duration documentary gives me some of the answers: I write on a MacBook and Apple has from the very beginning chosen Helvetica. One answer is like that. Others point in the direction that I like it because it is “beautiful and timeless”, “neutral”, it is “all over”, it has become a standard, it’s clear visual communication.

The director has been all over, talked to designers, found out where it comes from, this 50 year old “sans serif” phenomenon, looked upon Helvetica from a social, political and aesthetic angle – including opponents who find it boring with this “horrible slickness” that the typeface can also be seen to be, and was considered, especially in the 70’es with the psychedelic typography.

It is a very interesting film, well told, veeery wordy, maybe too much, but take a look. It runs in festivals, on tv (I saw it on DR2 in Denmark) everywhere and you can buy it on dvd.

Switzerland, 2008, 80 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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