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Sullivan’s Banks

GER 1993-2000, 38 min

Eight buildings designed and furnished by famous architect Louis H.Sullivan at the end of his career.


Sullivan’s writings and constructions set out central positions of modernism, including its ambiguity. His organic ornamentation, conceived and created in conjunction with modern methods of construction, was barely noticed in Germany. Although Sullivan’s work was displayed at the centre of the “Exhibition of New American Architects” in Berlin’s Academy of the Arts in 1926, Europeans did not consider Sullivan to be of interest as a theoretician, nor his famous credo „Form follows function“. SULLIVAN’S BANKS shows the last eight buildings Louis H.Sullivan has designed and furnished at the end of his career.

Press reviews

As the film examines these beautiful, discreetly ornate red-brick buildings, which stand out like jewels in their banal contemporary surroundings, you are induced to consider the powerful psychological effect of architecture. Elegant but never gaudy, theses structures in the American heartland have the reassurance grace and solidity of secular capitalist cathedrals. And the movie admires them with a correspondingly prayerful reverence. (The New York Times)

Awards and Festivals

- Berlinale Forum, 2001
- Viennale, 2001
- Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2003
- New York Film Festival, 2002
- International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2014


Director, Director of Photography and Editor
Heinz Emigholz
Collaboration and Original Sound
Ueli Etter
Sound Design
Martin Langenbach
Sound Mixer
Stephan Konken
Produced by
Pym Films
In Cooperation with
FilmFörderung Hamburg, WDR Filmredaktion (Wilfried Reichart)


Bonus film by Heinz Emigholz and Lior Shamriz THE WHITMAN PROJEKT (53 min, English and German) with texts by Walt Whitman, the writer Louis Sullivan admired most, Biographies of Sullivan and Emigholz, Building by building navigation, Folder
International Version (no dialogue)
Country Code
NTSC / Color
38 min + 53 min Extras
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby SR
Softbox (Set Content: 1), Folder
No age restriction