ale Eltrgtt DtUg
Opening the 'Doors'
Director Oliver Stone, acclaimed filmmaker and creator of such hits as
"The Doors" and "Platoon," will be speaking tonight at Hill Auditorium.
The subject of his talk with be "Making Movies Matter," and it will be a
wonderful and rare opportunity to see this master movie artist in
person. Tickets are available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office and all
Ticketmaster locations. Student admission to the 7:30 p.m. show is $5.
March 20, 1996
excellence thrives at Film Festival
By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
In a season renowned or, more ap-
propriately, infamous for filling multi-
plexes with commercial garbage and
unnecessary sequels, it is comforting
to realize that films still exist where
style and creative expression have not
been jettisoned in favor of turning a
he recent source of many of these
significant, phenomenal films was the
34th Ann Arbor Film Festival.
The usually dismal first quarter of
the year at the movies was brightened
once again by the welcome appearance
of the weeklong 16mm film festival,
which concluded Sunday at the Michi-
Handing out $10,000 in awards, the
ards jury had the arduous, yet ulti-
tely rewarding, task of narrowing
down a field of 93 films in contention
for prizes to just 29 talented filmmak-
ers to be recognized for their outstand-
ing contributions to the medium.
Showcased in three separate screen-
ings on the final day of the festival, the
awarded films were extremely diverse
in both content and production tech-
nique. The winners ranged from three-
minute shorts to 90-minute features
originated from all over the world
including Iceland, Australia and
The most significant and monetarily
large award this year-the Best of the
Festival Award at $1,500 - went to
Leighton Pierce of Iowa City for the
March 12-17, 1996
amazing "50 Feet Of String." This film
was a portrait of the seemingly monoto-
nous trials of daily life and how they
can be perceived in an impressionistic,
Two films by the same creator,
Laura Collela of Providence, R.I.,
were honored with the Tom Berman
Award, given to the most promising
filmmaker. Her two films, "Statuary"
and "The Same Ark" are quite differ-
ent, but are undeniably linked by wit
and raw talent.
For outstanding achievement in an
animated film, "Superhero," an ani-
mated tale of a hero who must fight
Batman, by Emily Breer, was given the
Chris Frayne Award of $500.
Named for popular filmmaker
Lawrence Kasdan ("The Big Chill,"
"Grand Canyon"), the award for best
narrative film was presented to Festival
veteran Richard Myers of nearby Kent,
Ohio. With his "Monstershow," Myers
used imagery of horror icons Dracula
and Frankenstein to interpret his dreams.
Filmmaker Michael Moore uses the
money earned from his successful
"Roger & Me" to fund the award for
best documentary film aptly named the
Michael Moore Award. This year's re-
cipient was Laurence Green of
Toronto, Canada, for his account of a
dysfunctional family, "Reconstruction."
While these and other victorious
films, such as DonaldJoh's"18% Grey"
and Bill Brown's wondrous "Roswell,"
were shown in the more widely at-
tended evening showings at 7 and 9,
audience members who went to the 5
p.m. screening were treated to five less
rewarded, but no less cinematically sig-
The first of these movies was "Those
Precious Mints," which was one of the
three films given the Old Peculiar
Award. Peculiar is, indeed, the best
adjective for this dreamy tale; the film
captures a small girl's recollection of
vying for some of her grandfather's
Mentos-like mints, set to the sounds of
a clicking camera.
Next was the gripping "The Idea Of
North," a winner of the Best First Film
Award. A chronicle of an 18th century
polar expedition by Rebecca Baron, the
film ingeniously blends photographs of
the mission with journal entries and
close-up re-enactments ofthe explorer's
actions for a static-filled tale of sur-
After the seriousness of the prior film,
"Postal Exchange," by Bradley Gake of
Los Angeles, this film provided a lighter,
animated fare. A depiction of two unseen
penpals in the United States and the former
Soviet Union and their respective dis-
gruntled postal workers, the picture won
an honorable mention.
The centerpiece of this screening was
the hour-long "Tender Fictions" by
prominent lesbian filmmaker Barbara
Hammer. Her poignant and funny auto-
biographical story of self-realization
and obsession with Shirley Temple gar-
nered her the prestigious Isabella Liddel 1
Award for artistic accomplishment.
The highlight of this showing was
the hilarious, Prix DeVarti-winning "Joe
Was Not So Happy." Juxtaposing stock
footage ofamphibians and a voice-over
from a 1950s instructional film, the
short subject by Chicago's Heather
McAdams traced the cheerless life of a
Following in the ground-breaking
footsteps of previous festivals, this
year's event proved to be another ex-
travaganza of experimental filmmak-
ing that alternately entertained, in-
formed and expressed creativity rarely
seen in this age of mass-marketing.
As the marquee darkens and the last
souvenir T-shirt is sold, the 34th Ann
Arbor Film Festival becomes just a
fond memory. However, while com-
mittees start planning for the Festival of
1997, and students, faculty and city-
dwellers continue on with life here,
selections from the award-winning films
will tour the country until the end of
This tour, which will stop in at least
12 cities, is an attempt to provide movie-
goers with a fresh alternative to the
creatively barren marketable cinema. It
will spotlight an independent film move-
ment that is not likely to fade out any-
Singer Tracy Chapman moved the Michigan Theater audience Monday night.
Spiited tunes enchantt crowd
By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Nobody in their right mind would attend a Tracy Chapman
concert expecting to be greeted with outstanding vocals.
Chapman is no Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston; her voice
is very plain. Yet, what pushes her music beyond the work of
mere mortals is the amazing spirit that propels her songs.
More than 1,000 people got to embrace this spirit first-hand
Monday night as Chapman graced Ann Arbor's Michigan
Theater with her presence.
Entering the stage in total darkness and then being flooded
by red and blue lights, Tracy and her band began with "New
Beginning," the title track of her fourth album (on the Elektra
label). From there, she went into "Can I Hold You Tonight,"
from her debut album, "Fast Car."
On her albums Tracy Chapman sings songs with meaning.
Topics reflect many of life's greatest pains and hopes. She
brings the feelings that surround these various life experiences
to a head in her music, recreating emotions so real one can only
shudder in amazement. At Monday night's concert, Chapman
gave the audience a good taste of her music's variety.
March 18, 1996
Much of her per-
about failed, pain-
She sang such great
singles as "Things
You Won't Do for
Love," "Can I Hold
You Tonight" and
she performed "Mountain of Things." She also performed
"Freedom Now," dedicated to the living legacy of South Africa,
Nelson Mandela. She sings: "Throw-d him in jail, and they k;pt
him there/hoping his memory'd uie,/that the people'd forget
how he once lived to fight for justice in their lives." Eventually
she got to he rousing chorus everybody in the audience was
waiting for. "Let us all be Free, Free, Free, Free!"
On a more personal note, Tracy sang "I'm Ready." She
explained the purpose of this song first. "This is a song I
wrote about my grandfather. It's about how, at the end of his
life, he came to his peace because he confessed something
that had been troubling him." She never reveals that confes-
sion in her statement or song.
Chapman also sang about her hopes in "Heaven's Here on
Earth," the first song on her "New Beginning" LP. "I wrote
this song thinking that even if it isn't heaven, if we started
treating it like it was then it could better continue to sustain
us," Chapman explained beforehand.
Tracy Chapman ended her show with "Why," a simple
song with simple questions with not-so-simple meanings
behind them. "Why do the babies starve when there's enough
food to feed the world?/Why when there are so many of us are
there people still alone?/Why are the missiles called 'peace-
keepers' when they're aimed to kill?/Why is a woman still
not safe when she's in her home?/ ... But somebody's gonna
have to answer./The time is coming soon./Amongst all these
questions and contradictions are some who seek the truth."
In the middle of her show, Chapman read statements that,
before the show, the audience was invited to write upon 3x5
index cards. She read everything from a Ralph Waldo Emerson
quote to a funny statement concerning weather. Other state-
ments combined elements of humor, seriousness and ideal-
"It doesn't take many words to speak the truth."
"Isn't it a shame we can make love for the first time only
"One planet. One people. Please."
Tracy Chapman is an outstandingly simplistic artist with a
calling to preach a musical gospel. Her music is very down-
to-earth in keeping with folk, bluegrass and African influ-
ences. Yet it also has a contemporary feel that anyone could
get into. Chapman easily pleased the Michigan Theater
crowd. She gave everyone there a reason to laugh; a reason
to cry, but most of all, a reason to hope and dream. Many
concerts present music. What makes this event so much
different is that Tracy Chapman didn't just offer great song.
She gave her audience an experience they couldn't forget if
"Fast Car." Each of these songs chronicles the hurt that can
come from a relationship when one is so blinded by love for
the other, he or she forgets about the importance of self-love.
Yet no relationship song can compare with the musicless
"Behind the Wall." "Last night I heard the screaming,/loud
voices behind the wall./'Nother sleepless night for me./It won't
do no good to call./The police always come late,/If they come at
all." Tracy tells the story of a woman regularly beaten by her
husband without recourse ("And when (the police) arrive,they
say they can't interfere with domestic affairs/ between a man
and his wife./And as they walked out the door the tears were left
in her eyes."). This song produces nightmarish visions of brutes
attacking those whom they claim to love; simultaneously it
reminds us that these are neither nightmares nor visions. These
people, and their victims, are all too real.
Chapman sang about other things she has been affected by
personally. Poverty was a primary issue she sang about when
61y Breer's "Supreero" was one of the award winners at the 34th Ann Arbor Film
Fwtlval, which concluded last week.
Simon's'Doctor' remedies boredom
I THE UM SCHOOL OF MUSIC PRESENTS
By Tyler Patterson
Daily Arts Writer
Neil Simon has established himself
as one of the most prolific and beloved
jywrights of all time. On Broadway,
few contemporary playwrights have
seen more success. During the 1966-67
season alone, four of Simon's plays
were running simultaneously. This
weekend, one of Simon's plays, "The
Good Doctor," is coming to Ann Arbor,
right here in the Basement Arts.
The Good Doctor" served as Neil
Simon's tribute to Anton Chekhov, ar-
guably one of the greatest writers in
s sian history. The play is broken up
th adaptations of some of Chekhov's
stories, with the common thread of a
character called the Writer tying every-
Lauren Miller, an LSA first-year stu-
dent who is directing the production,
promised a good time for all. "Neil
starts, you have just the Writer," Miller
explained. "And he's been writing, as
he has to do. The stories you see are
manifestations of his consciousness."
The Writer becomes critical of his in-
dulgence into his fictional life.
A theme develops about the Writer's
loneliness and his relationships to the
characters he has created. "By the end,
though, we find that this is absolutely
what he must do, and he is a very vital
part of life," Miller said.
Do not be fooled, though. The pur-
pose of a Neil Simon play and the
reason most people see one of Simon's
See DOCTOR, Page 8
Simon is hilarious," she quipped.
"Simon adapts the stories so well, and
they really are funny."
Along with the humor, however, are
twinges of seriousness that surround
the writing and the stories. "As the play
CHIP DAVIS, CONDUCTOR
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