Film Review: Typeface

Film review? Yes, book lovers, there is a new documentary that should be on your radar. Released on DVD just last week, Typeface is an excellent film about the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Directed and produced by Justine Nagan of Kartemquin Films, Typeface is an eloquent portrait of a small town and what was its biggest employer for more than a century, the Hamilton wood type company, which had been making wood type since 1880. The company was enormously successful, putting its competitors out of business and cashing in on the ornamental typography craze. (Think "Wanted" posters.)

The film does a wonderful job weaving together many strands -- from townsfolk sharing memories of working at Hamilton, to board members trying to keep the museum afloat, to young graphic designers discussing the importance of typography and art, and letterpress operators demonstrating how it all works. As designer and professor Dennis Y. Ichiyama of Purdue University put it: "Great characters, both wood and human."

Enhanced by the music of Josh Ritter, Typeface has broad appeal. The DVD also includes bonus scenes, such as an interview with Paul F. Gehl of the Newberry about type specimen books and a gallery of art inspired by the film.  

There is a private screening of the film tonight in New York City, followed by Norway, England, Germany, LA, etc. You can view a clip on YouTube, and order a limited edition DVD online.