Here’s a film for type-face/printing enthusiasts and anyone interested in the preservation of traditional design and print techniques in the face of modern-day technology.
Justine Nagan’s documentary Typeface, which made its Kiwi debut earlier this week in Wellington, focuses on a rural Midwestern museum and print shop where international artists meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique.
It's a Thursday afternoon and all is quiet in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Main Street is virtually empty, and there are “for rent” signs in several shop windows. In the last few years, the un-employment rate has been consistently on the rise in the region. Factories are leaving the heartland for cheaper locales and the little town of Two Rivers is struggling to re-invent itself. Jim VanLanen, one of the town’s most industrious entrepreneurs, began developing small museums as a way to bring tourists and industry to the area.
A few blocks off the main drag, in a section of the old cavernous Hamilton printing factory, a lone employee waits in the most popular of these museums for visitors to come. A couple of individuals straggle in every few days and then, come Friday, the museum fills with life. Machines hum, presses print, artists buzz about. One weekend each month, the quiet of Two Rivers is interrupted as carloads of artisans drive in from across the Midwest. The place comes alive as printmaking workshops led by, and filled with, some of the region’s top creative talent descend on the sleepy enclave. The museum is significant to the town’s history, but more importantly, its existence is critical to the worldwide design community who are passionate about the history of their craft and its function in the contemporary field. They believe the future of their industry may lie in the past.
Typeface, Kartemquin's latest documentary in progress, will bring this fascinating junction of historical and contemporary, as well as rural and urban America together for enjoyment and contemplation. This film will be of interest to art and graphic design enthusiasts, to teachers as an educational resource, and to anyone looking for a film about perseverance and preservation in the heart of America.
Best of all, the film is accompanied by the music of legendary alt-country/folk muso Josh Ritter.
Watch the trailer here.