A Marquee Project
By Bryn Mooth
Retro signage inspires an identity for a festival that showcases the newest films.
When you think of design for one of the world’s leading art institutions, you think of high-end exhibition catalogs with full-color photographs, gorgeous artwork and restrained typography. But the Museum of Modern Art’s in-house creative team took the opposite approach to its Best of Show-winning campaign for an independent-film festival. Oversized type, halftone images and a two-color scheme combine in a design that’s gritty, not glam.
That creative approach perfectly suited the 2009 New Directors/New Films festival, co-presented by MoMA and The Film Society of Lincoln Center. In its 38th year, this influential event spotlights young international filmmakers and celebrates their work. Past festivals have introduced the likes of Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg; the 2009 lineup included documentaries and feature films by directors from around the globe who’ve yet to become household names.
A tight timeline for the campaign—work began in January 2009 for the festival’s opening on March 25, 2009—prompted some particularly effective creative decisions, says project art director Brigitta Bungard of MoMA. For example, the team knew the photos they’d have to work with would vary widely in quality. “We anticipated that many images were going to be low-res screenshots; they came to us from all over the world, some at the very last minute,” she says. “Treating them in black and white, with a bitmap raster, allowed for a cohesive look for the booklet, no matter what the image quality was.”
Because the festival’s curators didn’t want to showcase any one piece, the design team needed to find an all-type solution that simply communicated, “film.” They hit on the idea of a theater marquee, and that modular format proved to be easily adaptable to multiple media, from subway posters to online banner ads.
Bungard says the 136-page program booklet was popular with festival-goers, and the identity drew raves from other event partners. Ticket sales were “strong” in spite of the economy, she says, a testament to the campaign’s effectiveness.
In fact, after nearly four decades of the festival, the design team plans to keep this identity for awhile, rather than reinventing it yearly. “The intent this time was to create an identity that could last and be recognized as an annual festival,” Bungard says. “We’re excited to see how far we can stretch this concept, with shifts in color, scale and texture.”
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Company/organization The Museum of Modern Art, New York City Creative team (MOMA) Brigitta Bungard, Claire Corey, Rajendra Roy, Sean Egan, Kim Mitchell, Julia Hoffman, Julie Welch, Zoe Jackson, Amy Gordon, Jason Persse Creative Team (Film Society of Lincoln Center) Mara Manus, Gabriele Caroti, Michael Hurst, Steve Grenyo, Arthur Ryel-Lindsay