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Multi-use pavilion hosts film festival

HUGE cranes have lifted a shape-shifting pavilion designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and turned it on one side for the second installment of Prada's summer of events in Seoul: a film festival.

The two-week film festival curated by Oscar-nominated movie director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu opened yesterday with a South Korean spaghetti western inside the Prada Transformer, a site-specific structure built on the grounds of Seoul's ancient Gyeonghui Palace.

Designed by Koolhaas in collaboration with the Prada fashion house, the Prada Transformer has four sides, each with a different shape: a hexagon, a cross, a rectangle and a circle. After opening in April with a fashion show on the hexagon, four cranes swooped down on the 160 metric tons of steel earlier this month, taking 30 minutes to lift the Transformer and turn it onto a new side: the rectangle.

The frame is cocooned in a blob-like white plastic membrane invented by the US Army after World War II to preserve aircraft.

The inaugural "Waist Down" fashion exhibition displayed designer Miuccia Prada's skirts. An imposing cross shape will define an art installation by Sweden's Nathalie Djurberg, who this month was awarded the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Biennale. The Transformer's final event will be another fashion show.

Alexander Reichert, the project's chief architect from Koolhaas' Netherlands-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture, compared the Transformer's changing nature to that of Seoul, a bustling city with an ancient history full of contradictions.

"You'll find a church next to a beauty clinic. You'll find a skyscraper on a mountain," he said at a news conference on Friday.

The Transformer and the neighboring 16th-century Gyeonghui Palace "both symbolize or show the architectural range or the architectural developments in the past 500 years," he said.

The project displayed Miuccia Prada's abiding interest in architecture, film and art -- and how they interact with fashion.

The American film critic Elvis Mitchell, who worked with Gonzalez Inarritu in selecting the 14 movies for the "Flesh Mind and Spirit" festival, said movies don't exist in a vacuum.

"They're touched by architecture, they're touched by fashion, they're touched by music," he said. "There's a continuum that these things are all part of."

Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican director of Oscar-nominated "Babel" and the films "21 Grams" and "Amores Perros," said picking a "powerful and eclectic" selection of his favorite movies was difficult.

"I felt that I was betraying a hundred other movies, or a thousand others," he said.

The festival kicked off with South Korean director Kim Ji-woon's 2008 western "The Good, the Bad and the Weird." Also showing: Karl Dreyer's "Ordet" from 1955, Alain Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad" from 1961 and Werner Herzog's 1972 film "Aguirre, the Wrath of God."


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