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June 30, 2008 - Image 28

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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16

Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

And the show goes on...
By Brandon Conradis I Daily Film Editor

Truman in
'The Hills'

Mar. 30, 2008 - Ann Arbor isn't
typically known for glamour. In
fact, most people wouldn't know
it at all if it weren't for the Uni-
versity 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 murmurings. 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 Uni-
versity itself. Spawned from a
resurgence in cinematic experi-
mentation 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-estab-
lished as this would be immune
to such worries - it was danger-
ously close to extinction.
"Everybody was very dis-
turbed," said Christen McArdle,
AAFF's executive director. "It
seemed like a lot of artists did get
in touch with me - internation-
ally, especially."
The concern in the filmmaking
community arose in 2006 after
a group of state legislators cut
the festival's state funding. The
instigating factor for this sud-
den controversy was an article
published by the Mackinac Cen-
ter for Public Policy - a group
opposed to state funding for the
arts - which used several films
shown at the festival as examples
of state-fundedart they deemed
objectionable. Among the films
named were Brooke Keesling's
"Boobie Girl," an award-winning
animated short about a young girl
who wishes for bigger breasts
and Jenny Bisch's "The Arous-
ing Adventures of Sailor Boy," a
sexually-suggestive piece of sur-
realism with vaudevillian under-
tones.
The thin line between pornog-
raphy and art has always been a
cause of struggle for filmmakers,
so it was no surprise to McArdle
that the sort of risque material
the festival specialized in would
cause some discomfort.
"It'll never go away," she said,
commenting on the ongoing art/

After watching "The Truman
Show" and "The Shining" over the
course of last week, I can confi-
dently say "The Truman Show" is
the scariest movie ever made.
If you were to tell me I could
choose between
narrowly escap-
ing death at the
hands of my "
insane, non- '
existent wife or
finding out my
entire life is a - --
big fucking joke MICHAEL
thanks to some PASSMAN
d-bag named -
Christof, I'd gladly accept a little
domestic violence and go about my
business with my fresh life insur-
ance check. I challenge you to dis-

MTV started following her and
her cronies around for "Laguna
Beach: The Real Orange County."
After two years, Conrad moved to
Los Angeles and picked up her own
show, "The Hills," which chron-
icles her life as a student/intern/
pseudo-socialite. Basically, MTV
follows her around with a camera,
while allegedly feeding her and
her friends the occasional line and
tweaking some "dramatic" situa-
tions. In case you're not grasping
the intricacies of MTV's prized
possession, here are the contents of
a general episode: overhead shot of
L.A.; Conrad gets yelled at by boss;
Conrad goes to club; Conrad gets
in fight with boy; overhead shot of
L.A.; credits.
(At this point, I should acknowl-

Patrons stroll beneath the Michigan Theater's marquee.

porn conflict. "It's an easy argu-
ment, and there's no legal defini-
tion for pornography. It's a hot
button issue, you know, for every-
one."
McArdle also added that the
actual content of the films listed
by the legislators ultimately was
beside the point. Referencing 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 perfor-
mance, and I can confidently ask
them if they watched them, and
they'll say no."
Regardless - and despite out-
cries from filmmakers defending
the integrity of their work and
the festival - the AAFFwas being
zeroed out by the state. McArdle
pointed to its history of pushing
the envelope and taking chances
with audacious and often contro-
versial 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 dia-

logue that happens during and
after the festival, and supporting
those very artists that are mak-
ing work that instigate this dia-
logue," she said.
It's that sense of community
awareness among contributors to
the festival that helped McArdle
and others when they turned to
filmmakers around the world for
support. Almost immediately,
they were met with a wave of pos-
itive response, as supporters run-
ning the gamut from members of
the local filmmaking community
to Hollywood heavies like Sam
Raimi ("Spider-Man") and Ken
Burns ("The War") came to the
festival's defense.
In March 2007, a lawsuit was
filed by the AAFF against the
state of Michigan to overturn its
decision to stop funding. After
months of struggle - and a grow-
ing fear that the festival wouldn't
have enough money to operate
on - the AAFF achieved a great
victory when the state legislature
reversed its initial decision in
December of that year, deeming
See AAFF, Page 24

agree. edge that Iam not,
And all I could nor have I ever
think about while been, what one
watching Truman Living life mighttermaregu-
(Jim Carrey) try to lar viewer of "The
take a ferry to Fiji for everyone Hills." I disclose
was that this is cur- this not because
rentlyhappeningto to see. I don't want to
someone who's well associate myself
aware of it - well, with the show -
at least on some level. Truman Bur- which I don't - but because I think
bank, meet Lauren Conrad. you should know these things. Any-
Conrad - or L.C., if you're into way, I've seen the show roughly 7.5
that kind of thing - has spent her times, and I'm familiar with most
life on television since 2004 when See PASSMAN, Page 24
Isolation and mayhem
By ELIE ZWIEBEL
Daily Arts Writer

4

Nov. 28, 2007 - Generally, thrill-
ers begin with the protagonist's
demand of the
audience's sym-
pathy. Mean-
while, the villain No Country
is only gradually
unveiled until for Old Men
the audience
observes his full aduaocas
wrath during a
climactic break- Miramao
ing point of anxi-
ety.
The Coens (Joel and Ethan,"The
Ladykillers") completely disregard
this convention in "No Country for

Old Men," an adaptation ofthe Cor-
mac McCarthy novel of the same
title. The first scene sets a brutal,

I

unrelenting tone for the rest of the
The Coens
deliver another.

e

I

movie: Anton Chigurh (Javier Bar-
dem, "Collateral") blasts an appar-
ently innocent old man's brains
See NO COUNTRY, Page 22

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