Friday, April 04, 2008

Bottom 3 at the AA Film Festival

A shot from the balcony during the 9 Questions rehearsal in 2003 for the 41st, with my vj rig and a video projector set up on the ledge (at this time the festival was still strictly celluloid!) This was a 13-person multimedia performance that included music, dance, live video, and shadow puppets that was produced by Jason Jay Stevens.

1. Moving the majority of the competition screenings out of the main theater = A MAJOR BUMMER.

every seat in the 200-seat screening room was filled for many screenings--
people were turned away!

It was a major disappointment to have the competition screenings SQUEEZED into the small 200-seat screening room. MANY people who came out to see films were TURNED AWAY!! I don't buy the argument that any filmmaker would rather have their audience, if it were only 200 people, crowded into a small room rather than dispersed throughout the main room of the beautiful Michigan Theater 1927 movie palace.

My film "Rife w/ Fire" played on that screen in 1998 during the 36th Ann Arbor Film Festival. And it was GLORIOUS. As a maker, to have my creation glowing on the alter of the Temple of Cinema is always a major honor. The brightness of image, clarity of sound(!), and overall scale of the experience is breathtaking when it's your work up on that screen! I won best Michigan Filmmaker that year. My video "Pandora's Bike" was projected on that same screen this year-- ten years later! I was lucky that it was programmed on a Wednesday night when they weren't as concerned about the weekend audience filling seats!

Seeing the festival mutate in this way brings the tentacles of corporate lust into sharper focus. I know that there have been longtime forces in Ann Arbor pushing hard to develop the festival into something more commercial. I am saddened that these forces are gaining control, and angry that these people do not realize &/or respect the fact that the Ann Arbor Film Festival is a living treasure of international experimental film. The people currently running the festival are not allies of the avant garde. Though some may pay lip service, I am not convinced.

"Characters," 2005, for the 43rd festival-- you can see Potter-Belmar Labs (me & Jason) camped out in the pit with our gear. We did a live a/v mix this time around.

2. Michigan Filmmakers relegated to the one single screening on Sunday afternoon : (

I had to miss seeing the work of many old friends, as I had to fly back to San Antonio on Sunday. This was another programming decision that makes me sad. The festival director explained to me that she struggled with this, but went with it as an attempt to "get butts into seats" on the difficult-to-program Sunday afternoon, even going so far as to say that the decision was "experimental." Maybe putting one of the big documentaries on Sunday afternoon would be better. I think it is incredibly important to keep the local work interwoven with the national and international scope of the whole event.

3. Obnoxious students at the Joost Rekveld presentation!

Joost presented on Thursday afternoon, as part of the ongoing weekly Penny Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series of lectures presented by the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. The majority of attendees were certainly the A&D student body, who are required to attend the lecture series. Many of them talked loudly during his "#11, Marey <-> Moiré" and "#23.2 Book of Mirrors," two visually stunning abstract films with equally entrancing soundtracks. An incredibly disrespectful bunch of spoiled brats, if you ask me... or at least the rotten ones are making the whole bushel seem bad!

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