Top Films at Modernism Week 2019

Cinephiles, grab your popcorn and indulge in icons of midcentury architecture and design on the silver screen.

Each year, Modernism Week offers special screenings of films that capture historically significant works of midcentury architecture and design, in and beyond Palm Springs. From a special Film Series to the world premiere of a Neutra documentary, these are the new and noteworthy films to see in 2019.

A World Premiere

World Premiere: “Neutra – Survival Through Design” Documentary
Explore the life and work of the celebrated Austrian/American architect Richard Neutra during the World Premiere of this new documentary. The film’s title is derived from Neutra’s prophetic 1954 book, and reveals an intimate look into the architect’s life through interviews with Neutra’s contemporaries. Following the screening, director PJ Letofsky and special guests will share about the making of the documentary. February 17, 2019, 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

ADAFF Film Series


In partnership with the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs), we are proud to offer the Architecture, Design, Art Film Festival (ADAFF) Film Series for a second year. Choose from one of these 11 programs or book an all-access pass to view over 30 films, documentaries and short films.

Friday, February 22, 2019:

  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 1 – Kicking off the Film Series is a fascinating documentary on saving and restoring Frank Lloyd Wright’s B. Harley Bradley House, built in 1900, which marked the beginning of his Prairie Style period.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 2 – Two of America’s greatest designers, fashion designer Angelo Donghia and legendary graphic artist Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, are featured in these fascinating films.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 3 – 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright and the architectural passions of famed Polish Director, Andrzej Wajda.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 4 – Once heralded as Hollywood’s most handsome man, Rock Hudson’s story spans many great memories from the 1950s and 1960s. Author/Filmmaker Mark Griffin will be there to sign his latest work on this iconic actor & past Desert resident.

Saturday, February 23, 2019:

  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 5 – A modernist master furniture and cabinet maker, distinctive interior lighting, sketch as art, and where art and engineering merge to create and build the Wilshire Grand skyscraper.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 6 – A series of visually stunning and experimental films on Modernist design.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 7 – Famed desert midcentury modernist architect, Hugh Kaptur, will be in attendance as we take a journey reviewing his works in this intimate documentary on his career.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 8 – Becoming Marilyn Monroe was the best-selling film at the 2018 AmDocs Film Festival. The star, Sonny Thompson, relives a night of Marilyn in this film and will perform after the screening.

Sunday, February 24, 2019:

  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 9 – A look at the teaching of architecture as well as learning non-Western ways of building.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 10 – A set of films ranging from turning a backyard tree into a dining table, to comparing Renaissance design with engineering challenges of today, to one of America’s most controversial buildings, to what makes people feel at home.
  • ADAFF Film Series: Program 11 – Two entertaining films to finish the film series. One on Cuban artists and the second film on the internationally recognized father of the abstract art movement, František Kupka.

Go Back to the Golden Era of Hollywood

Sinatra in Palm Springs: Special Film Screening + Meet and Greet with Filmmaker
Directed by Leo Zahn, “Sinatra in Palm Springs – The Place He Calls Home” celebrates Sinatra and his love for Palm Springs, his home of over 50 years. Never-before-seen bonus footage and a Q+A with the director will follow the event. February 18-19, 2019, 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

“Marooned” presented by Martin McGee
The Academy Award-winning 1969 film stars Gregory Peck and Gene Hackman as astronauts in this spellbinding science fiction cliffhanger. Tours of the new Rancho Mirage Observatory will also be available throughout the day. February 19, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets available here.

Jimmy Van Heusen: Swingin’ in the Desert with Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby
Some of the most beloved melodies of the Great American Songbook were written during the five decades that award-winning composer Jimmy Van Heusen spent in the desert. Take a rare look at the life and music of the high-flying songwriter. February 19, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

“All That Heaven Allows: A Tribute to Rock Hudson” – A Rock Hudson Documentary
Iconic. Legendary. Timeless. Rock Hudson was the ultimate movie star and this documentary pays tribute to the matinee idol of the 1950s and 60s. February 22, 2019, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

“Becoming Marilyn Monroe” – A Documentary on the Theatrical Tribute to Marilyn Monroe
Becoming Marilyn Monroe was the best-selling film at the 2018 AmDocs Film Festival. The star, Sunny Thompson, will relive a night of Marilyn in this film and perform after the screening. February 23, 2019, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

Saguaro Screenings

Crazy in Love with Modernism Week
Make it a Valentine’s Day to remember! Grab a loved one and enjoy cozy fireside treats, hot drinks and a screening of the Gondry Brothers’ “Las Vegas Love Stories” at the Saguaro Hotel. DJ Sabio will be spinning all night, alongside a performance by Brightener. The first 50 guests to arrive will receive a special gift bag, courtesy of Park MGM. February 14, 2019, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Free tickets available here

Sad People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films
Head to the Saguaro’s Jacinto lawn for a screening of “The Anniversary Party” (show in Richard Neutra’s 1951 Schaarman house), followed by a launch of the Benjamin Critton Art Department’s new zine, Sad People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films. February 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Free tickets available here.

Icons of Design

“Unknown New York – The City That Women Built” Documentary and Panel Discussion
To bring recognition of women’s contributions to the built environment, Beverly Willis, FAIA, wrote and directed Unknown New York: The City That Women Built. A panel discussion about the film and women in architecture led by KCRW’s design and architecture critic, Frances Anderton, will follow the event. February 18, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tickets available here.

Craig Ellwood: “The Cary Grant of Architecture”
Join Erin Ellwood for a personal look into the life of her father, modernist architect Craig Ellwood, who was known as much for his exuberant lifestyle as his work. Former Ellwood associate Jim Tyler, FAIA and midcentury restoration specialist, Barton Jahncke, will lead a presentation followed by a screening of the short film “Truth Be Told.” February 19, 2019, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

Designing the Disneyland Landscape
Join landscape architect Kelly Comras at the legendary Smoke Tree Ranch as she details Walt’s original Disneyland landscape design and construction. Start the evening off with a cocktail reception followed by a presentation and a short documentary film. February 20, 2019, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tickets available here.

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