Archive for the 'Documentary and Film' Category

Ann Arbor Film Festival, Take One

I went for the chocolate, I stayed for the coffee. Or something like that.

Actually, I went for the films, I swear. Tonight was the opening night of the 46th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival. This is the first year (in the five years that I’ve lived here) that I’ve gone, and I went all-out and bought a week-long pass. After adding up the cost of all the screenings I wanted to see, plus the cost of the “Opening Gala”, I decided that the pass was worth it. Plus, since we’re on strike today and tomorrow, and I only have one class to attend (the lecture I teach for) on Thursday, I’ll be able to peruse the film screenings that didn’t immediately catch my eye, too!

I was supposed to meet a friend there, but didn’t see him (later got a voicemessage apologizing for not being able to make it– the earlier lecture he went to ran long. No worries, there are four more days of films!). I did see several classmates, but did not socialize.  The “Gala” was a bit of a madhouse, what with the free food and free alcohol. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little nauseous and claustrophobic in the crowd, and mostly sat and people-watched off to the side for two hours after I ate my mini-plate of food (tasty though it was). I heard a rumor that there were chocolates (and chocolate fondue!) somewhere in the party, but I did not see them. Sadness. I did, however, find the free coffee.

The proprietor of RoosRoast was standing by the table when I went back for seconds, and I said “You’ve got some good coffee here.” He said, “Oh really? What do you like about it?” So of course I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head: “It’s not burned.”

Seriously, though. It wasn’t burned. This seems to be a novelty in this town. The coffee at ERC is indeed only a dollar when you bring your own mug, but you get what you pay for. Wow, do you get what you pay for.

Mental note-to-self: bring $$ for a “donation” to RoosRoast tomorrow. They will provide me with a free bag of coffee beans and a t-shirt. His reply to my “it’s not burned” comment? “Diggit.”

Oh yeah, the films!

There were some really cool films– all of the openers were shorts, between 2 and 13 minutes long. Four stick in my head:

1) “Doxology“- A film starring the filmmaker as protagonist! And he was cute! Weird as all hell, but awesome. Can’t really be described… kind of an introspective piece on God? Bouncing tennis balls, God sitting in a swimsuit and sipping a piña colada in the middle of a snow storm, protagonist tangos with a car.

2) “Yours Truly“- I want to know how they did this. It was like a montage, but moving. Bits and pieces of old films spliced together with animation and live film footage…. really cool.

3) “Safari“- Bug’s eye view of… bugs. Really amazing shots… up-close and personal with insects. Kinda creepy, but really cool. The filmmaker was present, too!

4) “Portrait #2: Trojan“- Destruction of the Trojan nuclear power plant in the PNW. Beautiful photographic composition. Bravo.

Come to think of it, “Frog Jesus” and “My Olympic Summer” were also really cool. “Frog Jesus” was so short (2 min) but hilarious in its brevity. Kid decides that the frogs he captures need their ‘own’ Jesus. So he gathers them around and crucifies one of them. The end.

Yeah, I’m going to Hell for laughing at that one.

I still really want chocolate, though.

Geeked Out

I’m feeling kinda giddy about these two things:

The Graphic Imperative – On UM’s campus this week and next, a series of activist posters (created between 1965 and 2005) on social justice, peace, and the environment (!!). I’m planning to go to the reception this Friday, and will report back.

Tales from Planet Earth – I’m very bummed I just now found out about this film festival… it was back in November on UW Madison’s campus (so close, too!!). I’m hoping that they’ll hold another next year! The films all look fascinating, and the premise behind them is equally fascinating to think about (film as social [environmental] action).