Re: Ann Arbor Film Festival 2006

From: Bryan Konefsky (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Apr 03 2006 - 10:03:10 PDT

Shelly, indeed you are correct about the TWO issues
regarding the AAFF... Note that I have pasted the AAFF
director's recent letter seeking feedback below. Now IS
our moment to respond and let our voices be known.
bryan konefsky
basement films
albuquerque, new mexico

Friends and family of Camp AAFF,

A week has gone by since the end of the 44th Ann Arbor
Film Fest! I
hope you have all had the chance to rest, and take space
from the

To each of you, THANK YOU so much for being a part of the
Your contributions, time and input were invaluable. I'll
contacting you all individually, but I wanted to put a
thought in your

Feedback is imperative to improving the festival. I'm
looking foward
to everyone's thoughts, logistical details and concerns,

For those of you who volunteered and had played a part in
production of the festival, I would like us to take the
time to
debrief each other on how your world was... please send me
a response
on your responsibilities, what worked well for you, what
we should do
next year to make your department better, if you have
ideas for next
year, etc.

For those of you who are longtime festival-goers, or have
in the past but perhaps did not this year, or are regulars
in the
experimental film scene, your feedback is just as
Continuity is important, and we all know that this was a
year. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on how
you think
the festival can improve and maintain its integrity. If
you have a
comment on the programming differences this year, please
also let us
know if you have thoughts on how the screening process can

A'ight, I'll talk to you all soon. Thanks in advance for
your time,
and for this feedback. Some of us should have a follow-up
with other people who volunteered. I'll email you


Christen McArdle
Executive Director
Ann Arbor Film Festival
203 E. Ann St.aAnn Arbor, MI 48104
734.995.5396 fax
The 44th Ann Arbor Film Festival
MARCH 21-26th, 2006
On Sun, 2 Apr 2006 16:13:11 -0400
  shelly silver <email suppressed> wrote:
> yes, that crispin film, what an unwatchable dog that 
>film was! (ok, apologies to dogs).  it seems that there 
>are two issues then.  one, would be supporting the 
>festival against michigan legislators, the other would be 
>ensuring (pushing/cajoling/yelling) that the festival 
>stay true to its experimental roots.
> bad timing that both of these issues come up at the same 
> shelly
>>I am presently in close contact with the current director 
>>of the Ann Arbor festival as she prepares to testify 
>>before Michigan legislators regarding continued funding 
>>for the festival and allegations of having screened 
>>pornographic works in past years... In particular certain 
>>legislators are holding up the AAFF screening of "What Is 
>>It?" by Crispin Glover as an example.  Pornographic? 
>>Hardly!  Sophomoric, simplistic, and silly - INDEED!  It 
>>seemed as though sad ol' Crispin might have taken one 
>>intro to experimental cinema course as an undergraduate 
>>and suddenly felt he was an expert on the subject.  The 
>>film was an insult, not pornographic, simply an insult. 
>> So, for those of you who might want YUOR views on the 
>>AAFF known, send the current director, Christen McArdle a 
>>Christen McArdle
>>Executive Director
>>Ann Arbor Film Festival
>>203 E Ann St.
>>Ann Arbor, MI 48104
>>email suppressed
>>Let's get those letters going as I do believe the 
>>integrity of this festival (now coming into its 45th 
>>year) is worth saving!!!
>>bryan konefsky
>>basement films
>>albuquerque, new mexico
>>--On Sunday, April 2, 2006 2:51 PM +0000 jennifer fieber 
>><email suppressed> wrote:
>>>Good to see someone pro-actively fired up about the 
>>>abuses to the notion
>>>of experimental film today.  I would hope these letters 
>>>or new ones would
>>>make it to the hands of the festival organizers, not just 
>>>stay here on
>>>frameworks.  Perhaps a petition?
>>>While we`re at it I`d love to see someone take on the 
>>>Foundation--the foundation set up by Anthology Co- 
>>>Founder Jerome Hill
>>>for the purpose of supporting EXPERIMENTAL filmmakers. 
>>>  Their mission
>>>was supposed to be rigid and specialized because the work 
>>>non-commercial and Hill was a huge supporter.  After he 
>>>died, and the
>>>usual suits that love to mold non-profits into 
>>>mini-corporations took
>>>over, they mutated into funding boring personal 
>>>documentaries, sexy
>>>narrative shorts and other sub-standard PBS fare.  Oh 
>>>wait they proudly
>>>supported Aronofsky`s Pi--That`s experimental isn`t it? 
>>> Of course,
>>>experimental filmmakers still get their share, but you 
>>>can almost hear
>>>the begrudgement in their voices on the review 
>>>panel--sometimes they
>>>don`t even bother to get a token experimental panel 
>>>member who can
>>>translate those pesky abstract films for the rest of 
>>>them.  But who`s
>>>going to complain since you want the grant too?  Well if 
>>>you`re outside
>>>of NY or Minneapolis you could help us all out...And 
>>>spineless me?  I`m
>>>with Anthology so I can`t say anything.  Perhaps when I 
>>>>>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>.
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>>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at 
>><email suppressed>.
> __________________________________________________________________
>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at 
><email suppressed>.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.