Helvetica: The Documentary

by New Idiom

A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll design!

It wouldn’t stand a chance in Hollywood and probably wouldn’t play so well in Peoria, but this feature length documentary celebrating the “birthday” of the typeface Helvetica, (born in Switzerland, 1957, at the Haas Type Foundry and designed/midwifed by Max Miedinger) broke the Siskel Film Center’s all-time box-office record in it’s very brief run this summer. It’s now back for one week and a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a designer.

Swiss to it’s very bones (the name is derived from Confederatio Helvetica, the Latin name for Switzerland), this is the story of the little typeface that could—and DID—take over the world of graphic design: not once, but at LEAST twice. It’s also a story of success, disillusionment, corruption, exile and redemption.



Through the lens of this omnipresent typeface, we get a multidimensional story of the world of design, design thinking, philosophy and communication, how they impact the world and how they are impacted in turn.

Interviewees include Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Norm, Alfred Hoffmann, Bruno Steinert and many more of the most prominent names and thinkers in the world of typography and graphic design. The simpatico soundtrack is by The Album Leaf, Battles, Caribou, El Ten Eleven, Four Tet, Sam Prekop.

Friday, Sept. 21- Thurs., Sept. 27
Fri.; 6:15 PM and 8:00PM
Sat.-3:00PM, 4:45PM, 6:30PM and 8:15PM
Sun.-3:15PM and 5:00PM
Mon.- 6:15PM and 8:15PM
Tues.-Thurs.-6:15 PM and 8:00PM

The Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N. State St.