“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds.” – Stanisław Lem, Solaris

"A Machine to Live In" is a hybrid genre documentary disclosing the mythopoetic links between the world’s first modernist megacity, Brasília, and the techno-mystical, esoteric, and transcendental spaces that have emerged around it. Unfolding in a series of letters to a deceased existentialist author, the film gathers a complex view of life in a landscape of UFO cults, energy pyramids, cosmic monuments, and new age cities. It looks to Brazil’s highly controlled capital not as a triumph or failure of its utopian desires but as a generative domain for imagining alternative cosmologies. Architecture in this context is interpreted as semiotically porous and charged, and presents an inclusive possibility for new visions of the future.

dok.incubator: 3rd Workshop Session in Ystad. Nordisk Panorama, Malmö – Sweden

Meredith Zielke, Sebastian Alvarez, Andrew Benz and Yoni Goldstein thankfully receiving the finishing award to be able to work with Espera Productions and Paul Thiltges Distributions in Luxemburg.

Photo courtesy of Freddy Neumann.

Andrew Benz pitching “A Machine To Live In” at Nordisk Panorama in Malmo, Sweden.

Photo courtesy of Freddy Neumann.

All the Dok Incubator participants oozing joy for having worked so hard together with such an amazing group of tutors and staff.

Photo courtesy of Dok Incubator.

dok.incubator 2017: 1st Workshop Session in Třešť /CZ/ – ROUGH CUT

Our week at the incubator was packed with transformative meetings, generous resources, and critical discussion with other filmmakers and widely experienced tutors. We are looking forward to our next workshop in Mojmírovce, Slovakia where we will continue to expand our knowledge and grow our network. In all, we are very thankful to the kind and amazingly hard-working dok.incubator team that hosted us and guided us throughout the whole experience. Photos courtesy of dok.incubator and Andrew Benz.

We have been selected to DOK.inkubator 2017!

We have been selected to the prestigious dok.incubator program this year. The workshop consists of three residential sessions in three different cities, all a week long and roughly two months apart. The first looks at the rough cut, the second assembles a fine cut and the third works towards locking, with an emphasis on marketing.

The unique Dok Incubator is an organization specializing in supporting documentary projects in the rough-cut stage. The focus of our participation will be working hard in the editing room, building a clever and tailor-made distribution plan and marketing strategy as well as meeting up with important international distributors.

Our timeline is:

1st – 6th May – Třešť, Czech Republic // ROUGH-CUT
26th June – 1st July – Mojmírovce, Slovakia // FINE CUT
18th – 25th of September – Malmö, Sweden // NEAR PICTURE LOCK

At this stage, we are actively fundraising to support our participation and cover expenses like flights accommodations and other associated fees. If you are interested in supporting our cause, please email us at fiscalsponsorship@ifpchicago.org, or donate directly to the project through PayPal by clicking the link below. All donations are tax deductible.

Do you have extra frequent flyer miles? We are accepting donations of frequent flyer miles on any airline that flies to Brazil (Mileage Plus, AAdvantage, SkyMiles, etc.) If you would like to donate miles, please contact us directly at team@ultrabrasilia.com.

All donors will receive a special THANK YOU in the film credits, as well as an advance copy of the film.

A Machine to Feed In

The End of Utopia

“We should dare to enact the impossible. We should rediscover how to not imagine but enact, utopia. The point is not about planning utopias, the point is about practicing them. And I think this is not a question of ‘should we do it, or should we simply persist with the existing order?’ It’s much more radical. It’s a matter for survival. The future will be utopian or there will be none.”

Why Make This Film Now?


Why Make This Film Now?

As Brazil struggles to fortify its fragile democracy amid turbulent times, the global audience is watching closely. Brasilia, the capital of Latin America’s largest nation, stands as a microcosm or the issues being brought to bear nationally. Built from scratch 600 miles inland, Brasilia was envisioned as a dream city, meant to thrust the nation ahead with a modern capital.

Though it has delivered much of that promise, in other ways Brasilia is just like the rest of urban Brazil: surrounded by enormous slums, supported by dispossessed migrant workers, and plagued by long-standing corruption. The lessons inherent in the story of Brasilia, historically defined by its incipient democratic movement, have implications worldwide as nations reconcile with globalization and their own economic insecurity. Structures that once represented progress, order, justice, equality, and freedom, are once again being considered sanctuaries for demagogues aiming to preserve their dubious positions, and implementing policy in the name of progress and development for the benefit of only the elite.

One needs not look further than today’s news to understand the topicality of the content of “A Machine to Live In.” With President Dilma Rousseff having been impeached after sustained protests last August and current President Michel Temer now under scrutiny with the word “impeachment” being floated again, Brazil’s democracy remains fragile. Through casting new light on the dynamic story of the city, where of course these impeachments are now taking place, we are offering a new, historically informed perspective on this challenging moment.

All over the world, monuments are falling and power structures are being challenged. We now understand how modern cities bring to the fore the deep-seated problems of Western civilization in imagining spaces for the human body and mind. For the most part, these spaces have been created by erasing nature to replace it with a composite that hardens over time, concrete.

Recent urban dramas tell us that the ruins of urbanism in which we live cannot be simply converted into futuristic monuments through a large-scale technology injection that will automatically produce harmonious urban spaces from scratch. As we continue to hear the distorted echo of failed utopias, the déjà vu promises of “smart cities” attract thousands of migrant workers, often badly treated and manipulated with false promises, to build mega-cities in places like Saudi Arabia, China, and many other cities planned from the point of view of the administrators.  

Sebastian Alvarez