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March 22, 2011 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-22

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The MTuesday, March 22, 2011 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

A2 festival turns 49

Professor documentarians

Senior Arts Editor

Weeklong film
festival starts today
at the Michigan
Daily Art Writer
This week marks the 49th year
of one of the most renowned exhi-
bitions of experimental film in the
country. The Ann Arbor Film Fes-
tival has featured many notable
contributors through the years,
ranging from artists like Andy
Warhol to seasoned filmmakers
like Gus Van Sant. Today through
Sunday, the festival will continue
in its tradition of promoting film
as an aesthetic medium.
Established in 1963 by Univer-
sity professor George Manupel-
li, the festival is the oldest
experimental film festival and
third-oldest film festival in the
country. It quickly grew from
a fledgling dream overseen by
the University, showing films
exclusively in 16mm format, into
an independent showcase with
high-quality digital media and
thousands of entries from inter-
national filmmakers.
To kick off a presentation of

188 films and other performanc-
es, this year's festival will fea-
ture the world premiere of "The
Florestine Collection" tonight at
8:15 p.m. in the Michigan The-
ater. Started by the late experi-
mental animator Helen Hill as a
film about a dressmaker in New
Orleans, "The Florestine Col-
lection" was completed by Hill's
husband after she passed away.
The following days of the
festival will feature screenings
with an established theme. One
is "Always Elsewhere," a col-
lection of five films showing on

Thursday night. Another is the
"Safe As Milk" collection slated
for Saturday morning, which will
offer showings that are suitable
for younger viewers.
Unlike Sundance and Cannes,
the AAFF is a unique opportu-
nity to delight in avant garde
works that may never be seen
by a national audience. The first
showing on Tuesday will follow
an introductory reception with
a DJ, an open bar and appetiz-
ers from local eateries. The
reception costs $30 and includes
admission to the screening.

"This is kind of like the Holy
Grail of film festivals," said Alexis
Bravos, a lecturer in the Screen
Arts and Cul-
tures depart- Hepworh
The time- Tomorrow at
honored Ann 9:15 p.m.
Arbor Film Michigan Theater
Festival has $
always been
about show- New
casing local e
talent along- Directions in
side inter- Documentary
ingenuity. Panel 1
Tomorrow, Thursday at
Bravos ispre- 3:15p.m.
miering her pm
documentary Michigan Theater
"Hepworth," Free
a nine-min-
ute visual portrait of the English
sculptor Barbara Hepworth and
the landscape in which she spent
the latter half of her life. For one
month, Bravos traveled to the
sleepy seaside town of St. Ives in
Cornwall, England, staying at a
cabinnear the beach and shooting
in the sculptor's garden early in
the mornings.
"The light (in St. Ives) is very
particular, it's very beautiful -
almost like Mediterranean light,"
Bravos said.
A portrait of where land and
sculpture intersect and woozily
echo each other, "Hepworth"
was shot on 16mm film on a hand-
cranked camera - giving the
documentary a feel that mirrors
the earthy, tactile materials Hep-
worth used to crafther sculptures.
"I think the core of the film is
about the intersection between
the actual sculpture and what

kind of informed it," Bravos said. (because of it)," she added. "It
"The coastline there is very beau- seems like the boom in documen-
tiful - there's a lot of tide pools, tary is occurring at the same time
places where the sea has kind of that investigative journalism is
eaten away at the rock, and that losing more of its funding, so is it
was somethingthatreally visually that now we turn to documentary
inspired (Hepworth). SoI wanted for what some of what we used
to notnecessarily do a comparison to get from journalism? Is there
between the landscape and her room for films that aren't ... advo-
work, but introduce the two inthe cacy films or didactic films?"
same space." Last year, Gtrsel participated
Bravos has been interested in in the festival as a filmmaker,
nonfiction filmmaking since her promoting and screening her
days as an art school student. short documentary film "Coffee
"I don't think my documenta- Futures," an ethnographic study
ries are traditional in the sense of fortune-telling cafes in Istan-
that they're not expository," she bul. An anthropologist by trade,
said. "I'm not giving you a story - Gtrsel is interested in presenting
it's a lot more of audience interac- her research in an experiential,
tion and whatyou bring to it." communicable way.
According to Anthropology The University faculty has held
Prof. Zeynep Gursel, nonfiction a longstanding relationship with
film allows people to think about the Ann Arbor Film Festival. In
not only whatever knowledge addition to Giirsel's piece, last
they're given, but also the form year's festival showcased another
it's being presented in. Girsel will documentary of Bravos's entitled
be moderating a panel about new "A Deep Well," a four-minute
directions in documentary film- love letter to life in a small North
making Thursday afternoon, and Carolina farm. In the past, other
hopes not only to discuss newtop- faculty members have also helped
ics but also novel ways of present- in other capacities - pre-screen-
ing information. ing films, sponsoring screenings,
hosting panels and encouraging
University students to attend the
Non-traditional festivalbycaincrorating its topics
into their class curricula.
nonfiction film . "I'm always really, really sad-
dened when I meet U of M seniors
that have never been to the Michi-
gan Theater - and worse, have
"Ann Arbor Film Festival is never been to the Michigan The-
really known for celebrating ater during the Ann Arbor Film
film as an art form, so a lot of the Festival," Gursel said.
documentaries also have oral ele- "I think in many ways we're
ments that are really interesting extremely lucky in that we're a
or aesthetically different," Gtrsel small town that has this really big
explained. festival," she added. "It's impor-
"One of the things we want to tant in terms of really bringing
talk about is why documentary together a diverse group of film-
is seeing a boom and are there makers ... who push the boundar-
new or different expectations ies of fiction or nonfiction."

Student films on show

Daily Arts Writer
For most of the 13 students
whose films are showing in the
Ann Arbor Film Festival this
Wednesday, the
opportunity Student Film
came as a com- SlOWCase
plete surprise.
Eastern Tomorrow
Michiax f Uni'- at prn r
versit ta .:
Andrew Reau- Michigan Theater
me's film "Per- Free
ception" was
submitted to the festival by one
of his professors. He had no idea
the film had been accepted until
he ran into the festival director.
"I thought he was just messing
with me (at first)," Reaume said.

"It took a good day for it all to
sink in."
'U' alum Walter Lowe III
recounted a similar experience
for his film "Protocol of a Per-
son." It was his senior Integra-
tive Project at the School of Art
& Design and was submitted
by Katherine Weider-Roos of
the PLAY Gallery. Lowe hadn't
planned any of it.
This is the: first time the Ann
-Arbor Filn;;Festival willbe
devotinga segment of the festival
exclusively to regional student
films. This is not surprising - the
AAFF has included examples of
student work since its 1963 incep-
tion and makes sure to always
consider the quality of the work
over the age of the artist.
According to AAFF executive

director Donald Harrison, the
festival invited schools in the
region to submit their best recent
student films. Most schools sent
five to 10 works to the screen-
Festival first: A
segment for just
student films.
ing committee which selected at
least one from each school. The
selected films include a broad
range of student work from ani-
mations to documentaries.
Harrison maintained that
See AAFF, Page 6

Strokes stay sharp on'Angles'

DailyArts Writer
When The Strokes released
"Under Cover of Darkness" -
their first single since 2006's
"You Only Live
Once" - the
outlook was
promising. It Strokes
was a bitter-
sweet message Angles
delivered in the RCA
form of duel-
ing guitars and
was more than capable of lodg-
ing itself in the average listen-
er's head for days at a time. But
more importantly, it was proof
that whatever The Strokes indi-
vidually accomplished over their
five-year hiatus, they never lost
the talented ingenuity that made
them a headlining act after just
three albums. Angles shows that
"Under Cover of Darkness" was
just a taste of what's in store.
Though the single is likely the
best track on the record, there's
still a goldmine of material to sift.
through. The initiatory "Machu
Picchu" puts guitarist Nick Valen-
si's broad array of skills on display
- his riffs transition from airy to
raw without notice, and comple-
ment Julian Casablancas's lyrics
like soothing tonic to his sharp
gin. "Taken For A Fool," written
entirelybyValensi, shifts between
feelings of animosity and sym-
pathy to provide a well-balanced
contrast. "I wish I left you 'cause
we never grew up," laments Casa-
blancas in a regret that mirrors
the nostalgia of the song itself.
"Games" employs bells and
synthesizers to create a refresh-
ing ambiance. Casablancas's lines
are rather mundane, but this
spotlights the originality of the
__ instrumentation. "Two Kinds of

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"Don't you ever make fun of our hair again."
Happiness" - the group's sec- Regardless, the spirit of the
ond choice to play on "Saturday album as a whole is a joyous one,
Night Live" earlier this month - and it's compellingto see what the
is bright and optimistic. "Let the New York natives can create after
soul go up so high," Casablancas being apart for so long.
sings, like a dare for the other "This (record) is the first one
band members to accept and exe- where we are truly working dem-
cute through the music. ocratically," Valensi said in an
interview with Rolling Stone, and
the effect is perceivable. Angles
Stoked for the isn't Julian Casablancas and The
Strokes, but a unification of the
Strokes blokes, entire outfit, resulting in a sound
that has contributions from each
More than anything, The
The only evidence of rust on Strokes's latest release shows
Angles comes in the slight incon- that the band is evolving. They're
gruity of some of the tracks. For moving away from the barrage
instance, "Gratisfaction" is lively of hype that was Is This It, but
and fun, and has a clear '70s maintaining their sound despite
rock ballad influence. However, the progression. A new album is
"You're So Right" sounds like a apparently already in the works,
bunch of bored rock stars reunit- including material leftover from
ed for the promise of a big payday. previous recording sessions.
The pieces of the track are scat- Angles is the first step in The
tered and unbound, and demon- Strokes's return to form- andthe
strate a lack of effort in creating a road from here on out can only
polished piece of music. leadto more critical acclaim.


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