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Malls R Us

A Film by Helene Klodawsky

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Combining nostalgia, dazzling architecture, pop culture, economics and politics, MALLS R US examines North America's most popular and profitable suburban destination-the enclosed shopping center-and how for consumers they function as a communal, even ceremonial experience and, for retailers, sites where their idealism, passion and greed merge.

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The film blends archival footage tracing the history of the shopping mall in America, visits to some of the world's largest and most spectacular malls-in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Poland, France, and Dubai-and interviews with architects, mall developers, sales managers, environmentalists, labor activists and social critics, as well as commentary from mall shoppers themselves.

MALLS R US discusses the psychological appeal of malls to consumers, how architects design their environments to combine consumerism with nature and spectacle, how suburban shopping centers impart social values, how malls are transforming the traditional notions of community, social space and human interaction, and shows nostalgic mall fans who commemorate the closing of older malls on their Web site.

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Visiting the construction sites of several of the world's largest shopping centers of the future, in Dubai and India, MALLS R US reveals how their gargantuan growth, both in size and geographical expansion, as virtual cities devoted to tourism, leisure and luxury shopping, threaten small shop owners and the environment.

As entertaining as it is informative, MALLS R US offers a trip to the mall like no other, reveling in their architectural splendor as consumerist paradises but also showing how the social dynamism they represent can be a destructive force, one that confuses the good life with the world of goods.

"A studious, instructive look at the rapacious creep of mall culture." —Michelle Orange, The Village Voice

"A fascinating, sumptuously filmed investigation into the history, design, function and future of the shopping mall in modern life. With its global sweep, vintage footage, and searching assessment of the mixed blessings that malls are in our lives, MALLS R US is an instant classic — the documentary you want to see on this subject." —Alex Shoumatoff, Vanity Fair

"A monumental documentary on a global scale, MALLS R US Shows shopping malls to have a tragic and apparently irreversible effect on every dimension of moral and material life. Not only are malls the central symbol of modern auto-industrial society, they are the site of a titanic clash of civilizations and values." —Sharon Zukin, Author, "Point of Purchase: How Shopping Changed American Culture", Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College and City University Graduate Center

"MALLS R US is a powerful reminder as we slide into global economic crisis of how much mass consumption has shaped people's lives and created the public spaces of modern societies… This film impresses upon us the folly of our ways, the alternatives we might entertain, but also the difficulties we will face extricating ourselves from a world overly dependent on retail for prosperity and community." —Lizabeth Cohen, Author, “A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America”

2011 The AIA Architecture and the City Festival (San Francisco)
2009 MoMA New Canadian Films Festival (NYC)
2009 International Festival of Films on Art (Montreal)

78 minutes / Color
Release: 2009
Copyright: 2008

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Subject areas:
American Studies, Architecture, Business, Business and Economics, Closed Captioned, Consumerism, Consumers, Economic Sociology, Geography, Globalization, Sociology, Urban Planning & Design, Urban Studies

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