The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com I Thursday, March 20,2008
The Daily Arts
guide to the best
- it's everywhere
you should be this
weekend and why.
Martin Sheen and Susan
Sarandon star in "On The
Line," an investigative
look at the movement to
close the Western Hemi-
sphere Institute for Secu-
rity Cooperation (formerly
the School of the Ameri-
cas). The free screening
is tonight at 6 p.m. in the
Pond Room in the Michi-
gan Union. A group dis-
cussion will follow.
Naomi Lizuka's "Polaroid
Stories" plays with clas-
sical mythology and real
stories of street kids to
produce a compelling
tale. The Basement Arts
production is open to the
public and takelthe stage
tonight, tomorrow and
Saturday at 7 p.m. at the
Walgreen Drama Center.
By Brandon Conradis I Daily Film Editor
nn Arbor isn't typically known for glamour.
A In fact, mest people wouldn't knew it ac all if
it weren't for the University that has engulfed
it. But for one week out of every year the city
becomes a hotbed of entertainment industry
intrigue, flashing camera bulbs and red carpet-style mur-
murings. And for once, the spotlight isn't on the students.
For the past 46 years, the Ann Arbor Film Festival has
been one of the city's most vibrant and distinctive cultural
institutions, second only, perhaps, to the University itself.
Spawned from a resurgence in cinematic experimentation
during the '60s, the festival grew to become one of the most
widely-regarded avant-garde and experimental film festivals
in the world. Yet only a year ago - despite the temptation to
think a festival as well-established as this would be immune
to such worries - it was dangerously close to extinction.
"Everybody was very disturbed," said Christen McArdle,
AAFF's executive director. "It seemed like a lot of artists did
get in touch with me - internationally, especially."
The concern in the filmmaking community arose in 2006
after a group of state legislators cut the festival's state fund-
ing. The instigating factor for this sudden controversy was an
article published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- a group opposed to state funding for the arts - which used
several films shown at the festival as examples of state-fund-
ed art they deemed objectionable. Among the films named
were Brooke Keesling's "Boobie Girl," an award-winning ani-
mated short about a young girl who wishes for bigger breasts
and Jenny Bisch's "The Arousing Adventures of Sailor Boy,"
a sexually-suggestive piece of surrealism with vaudevillian
The thin line between pornography and art has always
been a cause of struggle for filmmakers, so it was no surprise
to McArdle that the sort of risqu6 material the festival spe-
cialized in would cause some discomfort.
"It'll never go away," she said, commenting on the ongoing
art/porn conflict. "It's an easy argument, and there's no legal
definition for pornography. It's a hot button issue, you know,
McArdle also added that the actual content of the films
listed by the legislators ultimately was beside the point. Ref-
erencing the films on the list that sparked the initial outburst
of controversy, she said, "They never watched the films. The
legislators and the special interest groups ... they named 23
films and one performance, and I can confidently ask them if
they watched them, andthey'll say no."
Regardless - and despite outcries from filmmakers
defending the integrity of their work and the festival - the
AAFF was being zeroed out by the state. McArdle pointed to
its history of pushing the envelope and taking chances with
audacious and often controversial material as the main rea-
son, yet she was quick to add that the festival was about more
than just shocking its audience.
"The festival is about the dialogue t athappc as durie
and after the festival, and supporting those very art'- i' i TIME OFF
are making work that instigate this dialo 'o" e sail End-of-the-semester
It's that sense of community awarenes a a rb
tors to the festival that helped McArdle as otsers wien grind wearing you down?
they turned to filmmakers around the wsord fsr support. You're not alone. Get
Almost immediately, they were met with a wave ifc ssiive back in touch with your
response, as supporters running the ganut iisfroi m brs of creative side and stop y
the local filmmaking community to Hollywood is slike c
Sam Raimi ("Spider-Man") and Ken Burns ("Thc " ae CAPS on the fhird floor
to the festival's defense. of the Michigan Union
In March 2007, a lawsuit was Eiaed b 1 gi Friday at 12:15 p.m. for a
the state of Michigan to overturn its decisi . free relaxation-training
After months of struggle - and a grovng f s Ie
val wouldn't have enough money to oper i - th AAFF workshop. The workshop
achieved agreatvictory whenthe state legisltr rerd 1 ts is offered every Friday
initial decision in December of that year, ceeing sthe resric dur ing the academic
tions imposed upon the festival to be uncositutisc l
S AAFF age 4B year.
9uide to Ann Arbor's famedetv
By BLAKE GOBLE
The Ann Arbor Film Festival rarely dis-
appoints, and we expect it to be no different
this year. But unless you're a hardcore film
buff, the wide range of work poses a daunt-
ing challenge when it comes to picking and
choosing. So here's an eclectic sampling of
what's in store, in case you need a little guid-
ance at the box office.
"Big Time": Dig Tom Waits? Sure you do.
Live concert footage with surrealist zeal
mark this exercise as hipsterdom from the
raspy old crooner. Plus, it's a midnight movie,
so all bets are off.
"The Adventure": It's a common fact that
the general public is disgusted by mimes. So
when a traveling-through-the-countryside
couple is terrorized by one of those creepy
stooges, all hell might break loose. But don't
worry, it's still (supposedly) comedy.
"Cabinet":It's a shame Ted Kaczynski went
to the University, but maybe viewing him as a
fetishistic nut job might make it easier on all
of us. That's what this piece aims to do.
"Larry Flynt: The Right To Be Left Alone":
He's old, creepy and politically crazy, but
man, Larry Flynt is entertaining. The man
who made "Hustler" gets documentary treat-
ment in this feature length film. Pornography
and politics? Why not?
"Filled With Water": Hand-drawn anima-
tion may have gone by the wayside in recent
years, but it'll never truly disappear. This
young woman's surfing journey will be the
"Brand Upon the Brain!": Canadian quack-
artist Guy Maddin takes the gonzo route
in describing childhood trauma. The mix
of a bizarro camp, vampish lesbianism and
parental confrontation guarantees a true
"Crank Balls": This claymation short is
about two crank balls (their words, not mine)
and their resistance to happiness. With its
mad-face animation and easy subject matter,
this could be a pleasantly weird surprise.
"Kids & Money": Interviewing teens from
a variety of Los Angeles cliques, we get a peek
into their So-Cal pocketbooks and learn what
it means to have and spend loads of money:
A valuable lesson for the "broke" college stu-
dent. Hopefully these kids will know better
than to call Pizza House at 3 a.m.
"Leningrad Cowboys Go America": In this
midnight movie, the world's crappiest Finn-
ish band comes to the United States in search
of fame and fortune. And who wouldn't want
to see a movie with that title?
"Coconut": It's only two minutes long, but a
succinct film on duck, duck, goose is surely bet-
ter than no film at all on the titular subject.
"bLuE daHLia Live Performance: Seven
Chances": The classic slapstick star of silent
film Buster Keaton set to the world music of
Kalamazoo's bLuE daHLia couldn' me more
esoteric. But at the very least, y sic c ii it
yourself to see at least one Ket is ism bcfarc
"Dish": Six gay men descb ei sobses-
sions with Oprah. Hopefully i os he co-
plete punchline, but the presiis si just IN CONCERT
"Think (What Does 1t Tak ts Cs(.1 e a Patty Larkin - a singer/
Habit?)": An existential risi fl age. iib songwriter with unique
its and one person's struggle c sps isfr Ipper biends of Celtic rock folk
instead of plastic.b'o.i'k '
"Gibson & Recoder s Pierfo- blues and funk - is known
mance": Sandra Gibsonand sce cre- for her eclectic approach
ate innovative light works si p ets to music and the arts.
and experimental sound -iagie ing She performs her newest
lights representing everythiis floss le scul
to everyday absurdities. alibum (of mostly original
"Out of Sight": No, it's not that rld G corge material) Watch the Sky
Clooney heist flick. it's a tiie ase ait pilce Saturday at 0 p.m. at The
set on a landfill.Goahead, relish in iiioi- Ark Tickets are $20-$27
tunity to pay for garbage.