Re: Ann Arbor Film Festival 2006

From: Ariana Hamidi (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Mar 29 2006 - 15:32:43 PST

I can't help but question why someone would want to
defend the lack of original, challenging work at the
festival this year. Or make excuses for the staff,
which yes, i'm sure it is difficult to sign on at the
last minute, but I know the process. My students and
I are able to put together a strong program in less
than one semester, starting from zero support and no

Wasn't it only two years ago that the festival opened
up to all formats, and should we accept that 16mm film
be lost all together? In the seven years that I have
attended Ann Arbor, there has always been some element
of uneven programming, but at least one could walk
away each day knowing that they saw a few worthwhile
pieces. This year was an utter dissapointment. With
the exception of the new George Kuchar, Fred Worden,
and a handful of animations, the festival supported an
abundance of uninspired commercial work. High gloss,
high budget narratives mixed in with poltical videos
that really add nothing to that mode of working.
Nothing re-inventing itself, nothing offering new
questions. Where's the integrity of experimental

In one of the panel discussions, the new Director
Christen was challenged and questioned as to why there
was such a lack of experimental or challenging work
this year, and her answer was less than adequate and
on the verge of insulting to filmmakers. (I can't
even bring myself to describe what she said out of
respect) It seems to me that she has no idea what
'experimental film' is, and failed to provide a solid
answer when challenged with this question. Instead,
she said, "Dumb Angel" is a example of a "great"
experimental film. No, this video was not a
narrative, more a documented performance,and perhaps
it could be categorized as 'experimental' (the term is
so problematic and slippery these days after all) but
to use this video as an example of 'great work' was

I also noticed that there were far less filmmakers
attending the festival, does this have to do with the
rapid two year decline? As filmmakers, should we
simply throw our hands up in defeat and move on, or
take action to restore some of the integrity once
present at Ann Arbor? Why is there such a quick
turnaround of directors and staff? We don't need
another commercial film festival to add to the list.
And out of the 2000 entries the festival received
this year, how many great films and videos were

In a climate that creates more and more obstacles in
finding a place for sincerely challenging work
(especially that made my "unknown" filmmakers), it was
frustrating and sad to see this festival, with such a
rich and innovative history, take a severe turn for
the worse.

Perhaps the staff of Ann Arbor should make a trip to
Images Festival this month and learn a few things.

in solidarity,

--- gyoungblood <email suppressed> wrote:

> Thanks Bryan, very interesting comments. I have a
> tape of me lecturing at
> the AAFF in 1974. It's good to see that Kuchar had a
> piece in it. I'm
> currently finishing my article on him for the Data
> Bank's 5-DVD set.
> Hope to see you soon. gene
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bryan Konefsky" <email suppressed>
> To: <email suppressed>
> Sent: Monday, March 27, 2006 7:03 PM
> Subject: Ann Arbor Film Festival 2006
> > Ann Arbor Film Festival report, March 27, 2006:
> >
> > Let me begin with a brief observation about
> B.I.K.E., one of the featured
> > movies at the AAFF this year. In many ways the
> naivete and lack of
> > understanding in this work epitomizes the state of
> the festival, now in
> > its 44th year. The subject of this documentary is
> the Black Label Bike
> > (bicycle) club in NYC, their anti-consumer,
> anti-capitalist, and
> > anti-authoritarian ideology - which parallels, in
> many ways, what Agnes
> > Varda explored in her brilliant film "The Gleaners
> and I."
> >
> > Unfortunately, the anti-capitalist trajectory of
> the narrative was
> > bookended by opening credits that read "produced
> by Fountainhead
> > Productions," and at the tail of the movie one of
> the leaders of the Black
> > Label bike club rode off into the "sunset" on an
> oil/jet propelled bicycle
> > (throughout the movie the members of Black Label
> proclaimed their hatred
> > of "fossil fuel culture"). When I asked the
> filmmaker about these
> > incongruous "bookends" he knew nothing of Ayn
> Rand's writing, and found
> > the jet propelled bike simply "cool."
> >
> > This lack of knowledge and inability to
> thoughtfully reflect upon what one
> > has produced speaks to a greater sense of naivete
> in terms of the
> > curatorial choices screened at the festival this
> year. Except for a few
> > exceptions including presentations by Richard
> Pell, Courtney Egan, movies
> > by George Kuchar, Sam Green ,Jay Rosenblatt,
> Katherine McInnis, oh, and a
> > brilliant presentation by
> Gerry-Pixelvision-Fialka, the festival was
> > rather uninspired and unchallenging.
> >
> > However, I would argue that the lack of
> challenging sound/images was made
> > up for in dynamic and robust dialogue throughout
> the week.I suppose every
> > year the festival struggles with definitions of
> "experimentation," new
> > technologies, expanded notions of storytelling
> etc.
> >
> > This year the festival lost most of its staff
> which was, unfortunately,
> > replaced at the last moment. So, to be fair, this
> "changing of the guard"
> > might have been a good thing (fresh blood and
> all), had the new staff been
> > put in place in a timely fashion. Additionally, I
> should note that
> > although she doesn't have the experience that
> some of us might like to
> > see, the new executive director, Christen
> Mcardle,does have her
> > "experimental" heart in the right place. She
> pulled the festival out of
> > the ashes of, what seemed to be, a rather
> disfunctional board of directors
> > and for this I give her tremendous credit.
> >
> > Additionally, Christen recognizes the legacy of
> the festival and has
> > committed herself to supporting its history. Most
> importantly, she will
> > be testifying before Michigan legislators in the
> coming weeks regarding
> > funding for the AAFF. Apparently there is a move
> to pull funding
> > for the festival. The funding issue revolves
> around screening certain
> > movies that some have found offensive aqnd,
> perhaps, too challenging.
> >
> > So, inspite of the problematic nature of this
> years festival, I would
> > argue that those of you who have found value in
> the Ann Arbor Film
> > Festival in previous years, now might be the time
> to pen a letter of
> > support or simply email Christen with your
> thoughts.
> >
> > You can reach Christen Mcardle at the Ann Arbor
> Film Festival at
> > email suppressed or write letters to :
> >
> > Ann Arbor Film Festival PO Box 8232 Ann Arbor, MI
> 48107
> >
> >
> > Bryan Konefsky
> > Basement Films
> > Albuquerque, New Mexico
> >
> >
> >
> > For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
> <email suppressed>.
> >
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
> <email suppressed>.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.