Life Is Short – Films Should Be Too

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 31, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

The internet is one big film festival, and you can be the judge.

Tokyo/Glow Is Gorgeous, Simple, and Short

One of my only disappointments regarding the recent Ann Arbor Film Festival was that I didn’t catch enough of it. Which is a little amusing, since I had a press pass*, and it’s a festival comprised largely of short films. Which are coincidentally kind of a fetish of mine, largely because of my goldfish-like media attention span. I regrettably missed winner’s night, but was confident that I could cleverly find a lot of the films online like I had with some of the opening night entries. How wrong I was. What I quickly learned googling the festival winners was that there are two distinct schools of thought on distribution of these festival-oriented works: one that believes in the new economy of “release it free and cash in later” (as in Chris Anderson’s book Free), and one that maintains its cachet mainly via scarcity of distribution. Ah well. I guess I’ll just have to spend more time in real theaters, watching real films! Until then though, there’s a never-ending film festival online. The biggest problem ultimately is sorting through the astounding number of indy shorts out there to find that genuine gem. Which is – as I just learned – precisely one of the reasons to go to a festival. So with all my complaining about being short on time, it’s rather ironic that I spent as much time as I did to find some sites to share with you. Of the dozens of sites I perused, two that I found that seemed to have the highest density of quality films were probably NZShortFilm.com and CoffeeShorts. My search is only just beginning though; if you have any suggestions, feel free to share. Read the rest of this entry »

Indy Film Alive & Well At The 2010 Ann Arbor Film Festival

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on March 24, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

One of the world’s most respected and longest-running indy film festivals is in the tiny college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if opening night is any indication, this year’s festival promises to be a winner.

I always think of myself as film lover until I find myself surrounded by the passionate fanatics that will comprise a festival like the amazingly long-lived Ann Arbor Film Festival, now in its 48th year. It’s quite a feat filling a classic venue like the 1700+ capacity Michigan Theater on a Wednesday night, especially showing short films that no-one has heard of, but the AAFF did well on their opening night; I didn’t check the balcony, but there were very few seats open on the main floor. I was a little anxious about attending a full evening of indy film festival shorts; the luxury of time-shifted viewing and Internet access to an amazing variety of indy media has made me something of an on-demand media monster. But the festival didn’t disappoint, which is another impressive feat. The double-edged sword of creating a successful festival like the AAFF is that – yes, of course, you’re guaranteed a lot of quality submissions from around the world – but as the festival’s Executive Director Donald Harrison pointed out in his introduction to the festival tonight, their screeners and programmers had to sift through over 2500 submissions this year. I get a headache just thinking about what that must be like. Combine the sheer quantity with the multiple media formats and preparation required for simply projecting the material, and if the festival takes place at all, a monumental task has been accomplished. Think about that if you happen to be lucky enough to attend the festival this year. If you aren’t able to attend the festival, a surprising number of the films are readily available on line. Of course nothing compares to seeing them on a huge classic theater screen like the Michigan, but below are a few highlights from tonight’s entries for your perusal. See the AAFF’s YouTube channel for more previews, and their web site for the week’s schedule and other festival details. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Is Ann Arbor, And Why Are There So Many Movies About Her?

[ 5 Comments ]Posted on March 2, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Ann Arbor is a town, not a woman, and the 48th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival is coming March 23-28, 2010.

Someone actually asked me that once when I lived in San Francisco. For the uninitiated, Ann Arbor isn’t a woman, it’s a small college town in Michigan that at one time was as cool as say, Berkley, California, but has since slowly morphed into a dreary backwater of uptight Republicans and Liberal Elitists. Although it lays claim to being somehow hip and progressive, very little really happens here, and in spite of all the amazingly creative people in the area, nothing clever ever seems to escape the local scene. I jest a bit; I’m probably just being bitter because I’m tired of the place and too lazy to do anything about the fact. It’s actually a pretty cool town considering the fact that it’s only six square blocks surrounded by cornfields and strip malls. Aside from the University of Michigan’s overfunded and underperforming football team, one thing that has put Ann Arbor on the map over the years – and with good reason – is the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The festival began in 1963 as a 16mm film festival operated by the University of Michigan, and grew over the years until 1983, when it started operating on its own as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The festival has definitely had its ups and downs over the last few decades. One of its high points was probably the 2006 festival, when Christen McArdle became executive director. McArdle not only seemed to bring a new level of professionalism to the festival (she was working for John Cusack’s New Crime Productions in LA prior to taking over), but the festival was lucky to have her at the helm that year, because she stuck to her guns when the Michigan Council for the Arts questioned the festival’s content and threatened to cut funding. The festival told them to keep their money, and managed to raise their own, showing that indy film is indeed alive and kicking. For a detailed account, see this NAMAC article by Jay Nelson. Although I barely met McArdle, anyone who questions her impact on the festival didn’t see her at the Judge’s Dinner her first year. I watched in amazement Read the rest of this entry »