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Helvetica

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This is Helvetica. It seems hard to believe that a typeface as ubiquitous as Helvetica could stir strong emotions. But the font is celebrated as beautiful, modern, democratic and efficient, criticized as banal ("It's a default. It's like air. It's just there."), and even cursed for signifying the Vietnam War in Gary Hustwit's brilliant documentary. The director interviewed a wide range of typefont creators and graphic designers about the birth of Helvetica in 1957 and its rise to global dominance, essentially becoming the typeface of innumerable government agencies, street signs, corporate logos and more. The font gives shape and sentiment to everything from IRS tax forms to Target and American Apparel to MySpace pages. The film takes on a Thomas Pynchon-like aura of paranoia and conspiracy as Hustwit investigates Helvetica's soothing appeal and probes the way in which, as one designer puts it, "typography creates order." Designers who rebel against the Swiss font offer both amazing design examples and intriguing critiques of how visual communication functions. The film is presented by Zeitgeist and the Charitable Film Network. Free admission. — Will Coviello

5 p.m. Sun., Dec. 7

Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 827-5858; www.zeitgeistinc.net or www.bottletreeproductions.com

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