Gary Hustwit


Photo: Jessica Edwards

Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker based in New York and London. He has produced eight feature documentaries, including the award-winning I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the band Wilco; Moog, the documentary about electronic music pioneer Robert Moog; and an experimental feature film with the band Animal Collective. 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 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the beginning of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about industrial design and product design following in 2009. Urbanized, about the design of cities, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011. The films have been broadcast on PBS, BBC1, and other television outlets, and have been screened in over 300 cities worldwide. Hustwit was nominated for a 2008 Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica.

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

Critical praise for Helvetica and Objectified:

“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

“Gary Hustwit’s film Helvetica brought the joys of typeface design out of the rarefied world of magazine designers. His followup, Objectified, widens the scope a little, but still focuses on phenomena little appreciated outside design studios: namely, the careful thought that goes into the creation of apparently ubiquitous and everyday objects, from toothbrushes to peeling knives to vacuum cleaners. This type of design is all about mass production and industrial process; one of Apple’s key people confesses most of his time is spent experimenting with production systems. This is real hothouse stuff, and Hustwit does a nice job elucidating it.”
- The Guardian

“You may not ever think about what kind of planning goes into designing simple, everyday things like toothbrushes, wastebaskets or hedge trimmers, but after seeing Objectified, you will never look at any one of those objects the same way again.”
- Wired