The trials and tribulations of presenting your work to a panel don’t end with student life, or so The Competition would have us believe. The film tracks a handful of world-renowned ‘starchitects’; Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel, among others, in the lead up to the competition to bid for the chance to design the National Art Museum of Andorra (a tiny state nestled between Spain and France) in 2009. The documentary, directed by Angel Borrego Cubero, is a revealing look at the creative processes behind these large-scale projects.

The film will have its Australian premiere this weekend at ACMI Cinemas and coincides with a panel discussion that brings ideas explored in the film closer to home. Originally released in 2013, the film’s screening this weekend is facilitated by the recently established not-for-profit, DIS-cour.se. The brainchild of architecture graduates James Carter and Linus Gruszewski, DIS-cour.se is a platform for critical dialogue on architectural practice for a local audience. Something they believe to be lacking in Melbourne’s otherwise abundant cultural landscape, or that is perhaps restricted to academic discussion.

Saturday’s discussion will be led by the director of the film alongside four prominent members of the design community: Andrew Mackenzie, founder of City Lab (consultants on the Flinders Street Station Design Competition); Annette Pitman, project director at Major Projects Victoria; Gina Levenspiel, durability research architect; and architect Kerstin Thompson.

Carter and Gruszewski hope the film will be a springboard for a discussion on how international architecture competitions work and what they might offer for projects in Australia. Carter explains, “The film gives insight into these large-scale architectural projects, but we want to bring it back to an Australian context.”

One of the panelists and key figures in the recent Flinders Street Station Design Competition, Andrew Mackenzie, adds, “The documentary raises some interesting questions about the nature of a design competition for architectural practice and how this is performed.” He says, “Getting to look inside the machinations of how an architectural practice works is a rare treat.”

The film screens this Saturday July 26 at ACMI with the support of Open House Melbourne and the Melbourne School of Design. The film is essential for design students and architects alike, but will resonate for anyone with an interest in design, reminding us that all great buildings began with a piece of paper.

The film’s opening night and panel discussion on Saturday July 26 at 6.30pm is followed by three screenings of the film on Sunday July 27, at ACMI Cinemas: 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm. Broadsheet has two double passes to give away to each session on Sunday. Email win@broadsheet.com.au with 'The Conversation' in the subject line. Winners will be notified by 2pm on Friday, 25 July.