The Edge: Catherine Nueva España – Architecture, the City and Movies

August 19, 2014 3 min read

Novedge is a co sponsor of this year's Architecture and the City in San Francisco. Check out our guide to the Festival here. To celebrate the month-long festival, we are hosting a special episode of How to Succeed in Architecture, dedicated to Third Places – The Architecture of Sharing. Register here to watch it live on September 4th from 11 am to 12 pm PST.

Catherine Nueva Espana

Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do

Catherine Nueva España: My name is Catherine Nueva España, and I’m an arts consultant and writer based in San Francisco. I’ve been a volunteer on the AIA’s Communications Committee since 2008; this year I was invited to curate the film series for Architecture + The City. Currently, I am the managing director of Mediate Art Group, producers of the Soundwave Biennial and the marketing coordinator for MACLA. I write art reviews for Droste Effect Magazine and film reviews for My educational background is in dance,film, history, and women’s studies.

Novedge: Your practice combines different disciplines. How do they inform each other?

Catherine Nueva España: I have always been interested in multi-disciplinary practices and the ways in which artists and other creative people make work by employing techniques and theories from different fields. For instance, my background in history and women’s studies helps me to frame projects and artists within larger contexts; film and writing together inform critical approaches; and critical reading informs choreography.

Catherine Nueva Espana_soundwave01

Novedge: How are you involved in your local community? What have you learned from such involvement?

Catherine Nueva España: As a volunteer for the AIA, I’ve worked with the local architecture community, particularly with young and emerging architects, to help further their practice. With the Soundwave Biennial, I work to promote Bay Area artists who push the boundaries of sound art and other media. And with MACLA, I and the curators connect Bay Area Latino artists with local and national audiences. This involvement reminds me daily that the local is global; many of the people I support work increasingly within global contexts.

Novedge: How did you decide what films to show at this year's San Francisco's Architecture and the City Festival?

Catherine Nueva España: This year’s theme, Home, provided a great starting point for the curation. Each of us have experienced “home” in various ways. The film series therefore explores different ideas of home: urban living, home renovation, high-rise living, and so on. I also wanted a diversity of film, from documentaries, fiction, animation, and in-progress series. Finally, I also tried to include a diverse range of directors, from experienced to emerging, male and female, American and international.

Novedge: What are some of your all time favorite films about architecture?

Catherine Nueva España: Metropolis by Fritz Lang; Safe by Todd Haynes; The Towering Inferno, a classic 1970s disaster film with Paul Newman as an architect and Steve McQueen as a firefighter; and, Hoje, by the Brazilian filmmaker Tata Amaral.

Novedge: What can architects learn from filmmakers and viceversa?

Catherine Nueva España: Actually, architects and filmmakers have a great deal in common. They have the ability to produce the best films/designs on limited budgets and under pressure from funders. They also understand the way in which small details support a significant structure. Finally, they both have an appreciation for a great beginning; how you feel when you enter a building for the first time, and how a film’s first minutes establish the right tone.

Novedge: Why is it still important to enjoy a film in public, at a festival, when we have so much access to all sorts of media from our own homes?

Catherine Nueva España: Community! There is nothing like being part of a group and experiencing a film for the first (or the tenth) time together. The Sound of Music sing-along at the Castro demonstrates that we like to sing our favorite songs with strangers. The Big Lebowski film/bowling events let us quote the film to each other. Summer screenings in parks allow us to interact both with the film and with each other. Also, some films are more impactful on the big screen.

Novedge: What's next for you?

Catherine Nueva España: Promoting and participating in AIA’s The Missing 32% Symposium, which focuses on equity in architecture. The autumn/winter film festival circuit also starts in a few weeks, so lots of screenings and film reviews!


To find out more about Architecture and the City Festival, head over the official website, read why we love it and register for our live show: How to Succeed in Architecture: Third Places and the Architecture of Sharing.

To read more of Catherine's work, head to Leonine Films and Droste Effect Magazine, and follow her on Twitter

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