PRESENT Input and Recommendations
December 2020
SAMURAI ARCHITECT is a documentary about the legendary Japanese architect and poet Tadao Ando. The understated creations of the 79-year-old former boxer and self-taught architect are stark contrasts to his intense personality, sharp tongue and unique sense of humor.

From where does he draw his inspiration? This documentary follows Ando, unveiling his creative process as well as showing the man behind the designs. It contains a wealth of stories of projects that have met opposition, but have finally come true, as well as projects that have not been realized.

The powerful presence of Ando, telling his story in front of the camera, makes this movie a real gem for those who did not know him before and those who already knew him well.
Recommended to me by Present contributor Frank Berzbach, Von Marken und Menschen is a fascinating, philosophical take on brands and humans:

"Andreas Freitag is convinced that we can use all brands to bring us forward on the way to a better life. If you ask clear questions instead of marketing phrases: About the why, about the brand's purpose, about the responsibility and the benefit. Then, brands can offer leadership impulses and ultimately provide instructions for action. They create clarity and that is what employees, investors, customers and journalists long for."
Released in 1999, Choke is a documentary that follows legendary Brazilian fighter Rickson Gracie, who is considered by many to be the best jiu-jitsu artist in the world, as he prepares to defend his title in Tokyo's Vale Tudo 1995, an early MMA event.

My favorite part is Gracie's utterly fascinating, intense but nevertheless graceful training and preparation: on the beach, in his house and in the forrests of Brasil and Japan, soundtracked with A Garden of Peace by Lonnie Liston-Smith.

"Jiu-jitsu puts you completely in the moment, where you must have a complete focus on finding a solution to the problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase your awareness, your capacity to solve problems."
"If I were to compare myself to an architect, I make social housing. Sometimes I’ll make a villa but that’s really rare."

My respect and admiration for Irma Boom, the Queen of Book-Making, got even stronger after reading this great interview: Irma Boom on standing up for yourself, even in the face of controversy
I really enjoyed LOST ON THE WAY by Blake Farha, which got me recommended by our mutual friend Violaine Toth. It's one of the most intimate, touching, and humorous travelogues I have ever read.

"When Blake Farha was unexpectedly laid off, he knew the time had finally come to walk the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage stretching all the way across Spain. Armed with a cheap notebook, a ballpoint pen, and the ugliest pair of shoes he’d ever owned, he set out to fulfill a dream, and to get a grip on the demons that have plagued him his entire life."
LENOX HILL is a very fascinating and very touching documentary series that revolves around the lives of four medical professionals in the areas of neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

I have such deep respect for these professionals and how they balance their personal lives and their dedication to their patients. How they navigate the highs and lows of working in their most challenging jobs.
There is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat 25,000 times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.

In BREATH, journalist James Nestor travels the world to discover the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you're not breathing properly.

"You will never breathe the same again."