Re: Ann Arbor Film Festival 2006

From: Bryan Konefsky (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Apr 06 2006 - 12:22:17 PDT

Ken, it was both a pleasure and an honor to have finally
met you this year at the AAFF. And, thanks so much for
your insights and deep knowledge of this historic
all the best,
bryan konefsky

On Thu, 6 Apr 2006 03:06:24 -0400
  Ken Bawcom <email suppressed> wrote:
> Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ken Bawcom. I have
>been attending the Ann Arbor Film Festival for 40 years,
>and working on it for 18 years, on the screening
>committee, and other things. I've also done a lot of the
>programming, that is cutting the films in competition
>selected for exhibition, into programs for the main
>theater. I've read the comments here, and share most of
>your concerns. Bryan's comments on the personnel changes
>are accurate, and that precipitated the situation this
>year. I'm probably going to go into more detail than TPTB
>would like, but I want to make clear what happened, and
>brought about what I too consider to have been, over all,
>a weak program. I think it is important that everyone
>know that there are people at the AAFF who are dedicated
>to returning the AAFF to full strength next year.
> The AAFF has always been primarily, but not exclusively,
>an experimental film festival. It has shown animation,
>and a few, generally non-standard, narratives. It has
>also had a populist, leftist, political bent, reflected
>in the documentary that it shows, since its inception. If
>anyone doubts that, just have a few words with founder,
>George Manupelli. Christen, the new director, who worked
>double and triple time, as have past directors, to make
>the Festival happen, has no intention of remaking the
>AAFF as the Slick Trite Narrative Festival. The Chairman
>of the AAFF BOD has likewise assured me that no one has
>that intention. I certainly want the AAFF to stay true to
>its experimental, populist, roots. I believe we DID have
>a number of strong, challenging, entries programmed this
>year, but we also had a lot of stuff that didn't belong
>in the AAFF. So, what happened?
> When I started on the AAFF screening committee, in 1989,
>we got about 300 - 400 entries, all on 16mm film, and a
>committee of five to seven people watched ALL of them, in
>their entirety. And, all screeners were knowledgeable,
>and passionate, about exp. film. I think the process had
>as much integrity, and consideration for the film makers,
>as was humanly possible. We spent 5 - 6 nights a week,
>for 3 - 4 months doing it. When we began accepting video,
>and started getting 1,500 - 2,000 entries, that was no
>longer possible.
> We developed a system with pre-screeners, and two
>subcommittees of three people. This year, since we were
>very late in naming a new Director, forming a screening
>committee had to be done very quickly, and even then, we
>didn't start screening until the last day of November,
>about two months later than we should have done. It has
>always been difficult to find qualified screeners, who
>are willing and able to make the time commitment
>necessary to screen. In my opinion, this year, four of
>the members of our screening committee were unqualified.
>I am told that two had no familiarity with exp. film, but
>were art theory students. One is a very nice guy, who
>does like a bit of exp film, but whose taste really runs
>to what are, IMO, formulaic narratives. Another screener
>is a professional videographer, who is open to exp film,
>but not well versed in it, and not much into some of the
>more challenging pieces. The fifth screener, besides
>myself, has a strong interest in, and some familiarity,
>with exp film, some better known films, and their makers.
>It was him, me, and the videographer on one subcommittee,
>and the other three on the other subcommittee. So, in my
>opinion, our problems were engendered by the late start,
>and an incompetent screening committee. I assure you that
>I will do everything within my limited powers to see that
>this doesn't happen again. I also believe that the
>Director, and the BOD, have learned the great importance
>of having knowledgeable people on the screening
>committee. I believe it IMPERATIVE to have a competent
>screening committee.
> Various suggestions have been made on how to handle
>screening in the future. One is to have seminars to train
>screeners, and have as many as five screening committees.
>One is to put the entries on line, and have the screeners
>watch things on their computer screens, at their
>convenience. I don't like either of those ideas. I have a
>plan for a single screening committee of six qualified
>people, and no prescreeners. We would start in the end of
>September, and screen five times a week. One screener, me
>(or anyone else qualified, and willing), would be at all
>five screenings. The other five screeners would rotate,
>and each screen twice a week. There would always be three
>people looking at every entry, like the last few years.
>People would only have to screen twice a week, so less
>time committment is necessary. And, there wouldn't be two
>halves, so no "us vs them" would develop. I don't know if
>I can sell this plan to the Director and the BOD, but I
>will try, unless I hear a better plan. I think I can
>recruit at least some qualified screeners, but if anyone
>knows potential screeners in the Ann Arbor area, please
>let us know. That is what we need to get back on track.
> Ken B.
> "Those who would give up essential liberty
> to purchase a little temporary safety
> deserve neither liberty, nor safety."
> Benjamin Franklin 1775
> "I know that the hypnotized never lie... Do ya?"
> Pete Townshend 1971
> __________________________________________________________________
>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
><email suppressed>.

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