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Monday, Feb. 10, 2020

Unexpected Modernism

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The Wiener Brothers’ story revealed in film documentary

Two brothers from Shreveport once blazed their own trail in the world of International Modernist architecture. “Unexpected Modernism: The Wiener Brothers Story,” a documentary on their life’s work, will premiere April 2 at the Strand Theater.

Half brothers Samuel G. and William B. Wiener made Shreveport an early hub for International Modernist design with their residential, institutional and commercial buildings in the 1930s through the 1960s. Their story caught the attention of Shreveport architect Mischa Farrell and Stacy Pfingsten with the Louisiana Architecture Foundation.

“We invited the architecture and Design Film Festival, which travels, to come to New Orleans,” Farrell said. “Once we started seeing these very inspiring films, we thought, ‘This is what we need to do as a mission for LAF. We need to make films about our beautiful architecture and architects in Louisiana.”

They went looking for filmmakers to help them tell the Wieners’ story, and they found Gregory Kallenberg and Rational Middle Media.

“I did not know much about the Wieners when they came to me and offered me the gig,” Kallenberg said. “They were explaining something I didn’t know a lot about. It sounded fun. We don’t get to do a lot of work here in our home city. When we had just scratched the surface of this, we could see how special these guys are, and how important they were not only to architecture but to the city and the country. That’s what lit the fire for us to make this.”

Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said she is glad to see this project completed.

“I am thrilled that we are finally giving credit where credit is due,” she said. “The Wiener dynasty is a remarkable one, and it had been lost to time. So many buildings still exist in Shreveport that have the fingerprint of the Wieners. You can see them still.”

The premiere of “Unexpected Modernism: The Wiener Brothers Story” will begin with a red-carpet celebration at the Strand Theater. The event will feature a screening of the film, special guest appearances, and a panel discussion after the film.

Tickets are on sale through the Strand box office. The trailer for the film is online at unexpected modernism.com.

“I would encourage people to see the film and then come and take a look at these buildings for themselves and discover what a treasure trove of architecture we still have in Shreveport,” Swaine said.

ON STANDS NOW!

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