Gary Hustwit

Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker based in New York and London. He has produced six feature documentaries, including I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, the award-winning film about the band Wilco; Moog, the documentary about electronic music pioneer Robert Moog; and Drive Well, Sleep Carefully, a tour film about the band Death Cab for Cutie. Hustwit worked with punk label SST Records in the late-1980s, ran the independent book publishing house Incommunicado Press during the 1990s, was Vice President of the media website Salon.com in 2000, and started the indie DVD label Plexifilm in 2001.

In 2007 Hustwit made his directorial debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography. Helvetica had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2007, and has since screened in over 200 cities worldwide. It had its television premiere in the UK on BBC1, and was broadcast in the United States on PBS in January 2009. Hustwit was nominated for the 2008 Independent Spirit “Truer Than Fiction” Award for Helvetica.

Filmmaker contact: gary (at) objectifiedfilm (dot) com

Critical praise for Helvetica:

“Could first-time American director Gary Hustwit be the architect of a New Banal documentary movement? With Helvetica he produces a gleefully engaging investigation into the world’s most ubiquitous typeface, and broadens the cinematic and analytical potential of the documentary form in the process. Artfully photographed, sharply edited and propelled by a gorgeous ambient rock soundtrack, it’s a film which owes more – in philosophy perhaps more than style – to the measured docu-realism of Nicholas Philibert than the bombast of Michael Moore and has obviously been constructed with its utilitarian subject close to heart. Don’t let the mundane subject matter put you off. This is one of the wittiest, most diligently researched, slyly intelligent and quietly captivating documentaries of the year.”
- Time Out (London)

“Like its seemingly neutral Swiss-born subject, the film says a great deal without raising its voice, lending wit and grace to an inquiry regarding the way a medium, a squiggle or the precise space between two letters affects a million different messages and a billion different eyeballs. The real achievement of the picture, though, is the way it sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life. By rounding up a great group of eloquent obsessives eager to explain their feelings about a font, Hustwit has come up with 80 unexpectedly blissful minutes.”
- Chicago Tribune

“Hustwit’s first attempt at a full-length documentary, shot on a credit-card budget and made up of interviews with designers and typographers, has somehow become a global phenomenon. Part of the point of making a documentary about all this, Hustwit explains, is to put faces to the names of great designers whose work surrounds us every day but whose identities remain more or less unknown. ‘When I started this project,’ he says, ‘I couldn’t believe that a film like this didn’t exist already. Fonts don’t just appear out of Microsoft Word: there are human beings and huge stories behind them.’ Microsoft Word and the revolution in desktop publishing are, of course, part of the reason that audiences who wouldn’t otherwise know their glyphs from their descenders are flocking to see a documentary devoted to the history of typography.”
- The Guardian


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