Malls R US


A Feature Documentary by Helene Klodawsky

Produced by Ina Fichman (Instinct Films) and Luc Martin-Gousset (Point du Jour)

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 such places may provide communal, even ceremonial, experiences.  For their creators, malls are where idealism, passion and greed merge.


The film blends archival footage tracing the history of the shopping mall in America, with visits to some of the world’s largest and most spectacular malls in Canada, the US, the UK, Japan, Poland, France, and Dubai.  Interviews with architects, mall developers, sales managers, environmentalists, labor activists and social critics, as well as commentary from mall shoppers themselves, provide entertaining and provocative insights.

AIR, the celebrated French band (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation) created the film’s stirring music. MALLS R US is an Instinct Films/Point du jour film in co-production with CBC, Tele-Quebec, Canal Plus (France), SBS (Australia), RTBF (Belgium), TSR (Switzerland), BeTV (Belgium), Planete (Francophone Cable TV).

Nomination: Best Documentary, The Director’s Guild of Canada, 2009

Nomination: Best Documentary Screenplay, Writer’s Guild of Canada, 2010

American Library Association: One of 15 Notable Films of 2010


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Tele Quebec, Canal+ (France), SBS Australia, Belgian TV, Planete, Finish Public Television, Israeli Public Television, RTV Slovenija, TV Catalunya, Polish Pay TV, Polish Pub-caster Free TV (TVP), Sundance TV Europe.

Selected Screenings:

Museum of Modern Art, New York  – The Canadian Front 2009

International Festival of Films On Art  – In Competition, 2009

Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam; The Netherlands 2009

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

No Festival Required; Phoenix

Facets Cinémathèque, Chicago

Cinema Politica Montreal

Vancouver International Film Centre

Cleveland Museum of Art

Olympia Film Society Washington

Phoenix Museum of Arts

Cinema Salem, Massachusetts

International House of Philadelphia

Forum des Images, Paris

Clinton Street Theatre, Portland, Oregon

Woods Hole, Cape Cod

Bishops University, Quebec

Winthrop University, South Carolina

Tallahassee Film Society, Florida

Cinema Politica Lethbridge, Alberta

Cinema Politica, Sackville, New Brunswick

Cinema Politica, Indonesia

Center for Architecture, New York

Carnegie Melon University Int’l Film Festival, Pittsburgh

Organization of Minority Architects, Architecture Film Festival, Texas

Planet Doc Review, Warsaw, 2010

Film + Design Festival, Eindhoven 2010

What People Are Saying…

I was worried this was going to be a malls = evil 1970s kind of documentary, but it really brought something marvelous and unexpected and new to the subject. As you watch it, its scope broadens and broadens, like a complex film plot. At the end you feel as if you’ve seen something slightly holy. A wonderful doc.

Douglas Coupland, author, Generation X, J-Pod

Fascinating yet ultimately frightening, Malls R Us is an elegant,

thoughtful documentary which exposes the mindset of mallpreneurs and mall designers from the time malls were first invented till the present, and the increasingly sophisticated, calculated effects of their manipulations. Consumers beware: shopping will never be the same.

Mark Achbar, filmmaker, The Corporation

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 instant classic– the documentary you want to see on this subject.

Professor John Lyden, Chair, Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Group, American Academy of Religion

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

An exceptional kaleidoscope of views on the effect the mall has had on modernity and on the symbolic nature the mall has as a metaphor for the human experience.

Dwight DeWerth-Pallmeyer PhD, Director of Communication Studies, Widener University

“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, East and West, North and South. 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 of A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America


POV Blog

The Gazz

Madame Lamb

Art Forum

Art in America

Emanuel Levy

New York Times

Austin Considine – American Crossroads

Roger Ebert

Arts and Culture

The Tyee, Vancouver

Sympatico TV Guide






Icarus Films – US

Point du Jour International – Europe