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March 11, 2004 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-11

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Weeked lWafZil - Thursday, March 11, 2004

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Left: Interns and volunteers pi
together posters and publicati
to hype the festival.
Right: Film reels are meticuloi
labeled and organized accordir
to their day, time and theater
ByJiwon Le
Daily Arts Witer
Film festival volun-
teers Shrihari Sathe,
Jacquline Wood and hen lookin th
Laura Bridges, cre- ing Ann Arbor Fri
ate a detailed plan of to be A zAtthel
the week's festivi-frm oe int
ties for each screen- from one minute
ing rooms in the length, the films c
Michigan Theater. world and are jewel

) behind the scenes of1

rough the synopses for
mpetition at the upcom-
m Festival, it's hard not
pure variety. Ranging
long to feature-film
ome from all over the
s of experimental, doc-

Volunteers band together to produce the Ann Arbor Film Festival

By Danielle Ravich
For The Daily

For an inside peek at where Hollywood goes to get fresh
new ideas for its movies, come check out the Ann Arbor
Film Festival at the Michigan Theater. The 42nd annual
Ann Arbor Film Festival starts Tuesday and runs until
March 21, showcasing independent films by artists visit-
ing from around the country and around the world.
The show is completely run by nearly 100 volunteers.
Volunteers are invaluable to the festival. Without their
hard work, dedication and passion, there is no way that
this exceptional event would take place. They run every-
thing from mundane office work to deciding which films
will be entered into the competition and even wait tables
at benefits.
Volunteers for the festival are not just film majors. For
example, Lauren Bridges, the volunteer coordinator of the
Ann Arbor Film Festival, is a political science student.
Although she was asked by Festival Director Chrisstina

Hamilton to take on the position, she was more than glad
to do it. "I've always been interested in film and I knew it
would be a great experience." Planning for the festival
starts in the summer at the beginning of the school year.
"As soon as I got the position, I already started getting e-
mails from people asking to volunteer," she added.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is an event that many peo-
ple hold dear. "People feel so passionately about this fes-
tival because there is just something so special about it"
said Lauren. Everything from setting up at the Michigan
Theater to the films themselves is "...driven by the heart.
It is a celebration of work that is not out make millions of
Some volunteers are local residents, and others don't
even live in Ann Arbor or attend the University. Some vol-
unteers even have families of their own and have children
who come with them to help out. Most of the volunteers
are generally needed during the week of the festival to set
up and to make any other last-minute arrangements. They

come into Ann Arbor from areas
Ohio for this event.
Several Ann Arbor residents will

around Michigan and
even open their homes

to house artists who will be coming from out of town.
Artists will be visiting from countries including Austria,
France, Hong-Kong, Britain, and the Czech Republic.
Residents of Ann Arbor have been housing out-of-town
artists for years in order to provide visitors with a free,
comfortable place to stay.
As Bridges explains, "Going to the Ann Arbor Film
Festival is not like going to your typical Cineplex. These
films come out of the artist's own desire and passion. They
don't make any money by putting so much of their time
and effort into these films."
So, if you are looking to support a cause that is driven
solely by the passion and raw emotion of artists and their
vision, and are looking for something exciting and cheap
to do this week, visit the Michigan Theater. Sit back, relax
and enjoy the show.

umentary and animated styimgs. Bemg
one of the most prestigious film festivals
to be showcased in, filmmakers flock to
enter their works. In previous years, about
500 entries were submitted. With the new
change allowing digital films in the festi-
val, about 1,600 entries were handed in
this year. Each underwent a critical
There is a committee of pre-screeners
who watch all of the entries and weed out
pieces which do not fit in with the festival's
mission. The pre-screeners are unpaid vol-
unteers who have backgrounds in film and
have experience with experimental film in
particular. This initial judgment is very
preliminary and is meant to sort out only
the most obviously unsuitable pieces.
As pre-screener and Film and Video lec-
turer Stashu Kybartas describes it, "I try to
go by their (the festival's) criteria and his-
torically what the festival represents: non-
commercial and more artistically geared
pieces. Sometimes people don't under-
stand on a fundamental level what the fes-
tival is about." Kybartas himself was one
of the 13 pre-screeners and went through
50 or 60 films, writing comments and rec-
However, just because a film isn't rec-
ommended in this first level of acceptance

does not mean it is out of the running com-
pletely. A screening committee will then
go back and view 90 percent of the reject-
ed pieces to make sure they aren't right for
the festival. If any screening committee
member feels the film deserves another
chance, it is pulled back into the list of pos-
sible pieces. In fact, no film is rejected
because of only one person's ratings, mak-
ing Ann Arbor a unique festival in that
"We feel it's very important that it's not
just one person that sees the work. I think
Ann Arbor is so special because of how we
respect the work and filmmakers doing the
work. Some festivals are about the view-
ers or the audience and our festival is all
about the artist and the filmmaker," said
Festival Director Chrisstina Hamilton.
An extension of this caring is seen in
the awarding of honorable mentions.
Shrihari Sathe, LSA junior and two-year
festival intern, describes these awards say-
ing, "If there's a particular film that does-
n't fit into any of the categories and the
judges think a film deserves an award, then
it would probably get an honorable men-
tion award." Shri is one of eight interns
who work nearly year-round for the festi-
val. Their jobs can range from picking the
filmmakers up at the airport to labeling
tapes for the database.
This year there was actually two screen-
ing committees because of the tripled
amount of entries. The two committees
would screen films separately and then
engage in a complex system of votes and
ratings. The details are tedious, and it is
clear immediately how much work the
screening committees did to ensure a qual-
ity lineup.


Photos courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival
Top: "Colorforms" airs March 19 at 9:30 p.m.
Bottom: "Mouskouri and a Cabbage Tree" airs
March 20 at 2. p.m.

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