This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, which would be a milestone for any cinema-related event in the U.S. But for a festival that has carved out a niche in the area of experimental and avant-garde film and video, Aaff's achievement is especially noteworthy. Even within the rarefied realm of cinephilia, the avant-garde tends to be something on the margins, or even in the best of circumstances (e.g., the Rotterdam, New York, or Toronto film festivals) one part of a much larger whole. So the fact that Ann Arbor and its intrepid citizens have continued to support this strange little festival, and all the bizarre films the festival has thrown their way over the years, speaks very highly of both the town and the festival founders and organizers (many of whom were present for an on-stage birthday ceremony,
Filmmaker Bruce Baillie was there at the first Aaff — and numerous times since. He’s back this year with a major retrospective of his entire career that spans three separate programs. Baillie, who’ll be in attendance of course, will present a brand-new restored version of his epic pseudo-Western Quick Billy, plus screenings of his classic short movies such as Castro Street, Yellow Horse, Quixote, To Parsifal and more.
There’s also a program dedicated to the films of the late Robert Nelson, including Bleu Shut and Special Warning, as well as sprinklings of underground classics throughout
It's been over a week since Ottawa's closing night festivities, and my head is still reeling with the smorgasbord of animated treats I was privy to for the few short days I was there. Other than the features and some of the retrospectives (which I talked about in my previous Ottawa Animation Festival Wrap-Up Part One), I was able to catch the Canadian Short Film Showcase, one of the International showcases and the first of five short film competitions (sadly missing both the latest Priit Parn and Jonas Odell shorts).
The Canadian program kicked off smartly with Amy Lockhart's The Collagist, inspired by the creative process of her frequent collaborator, cartoonist/artist Marc Bell. With a single shot depicting two hands manipulating objects on a desk into a series of images - blobby potatoes, people, raindrops, mouths, eyes and text - this cut-out animation is a spirited ode to
Theodore Ushev's Lipsett Diaries is a descent into the maelstrom of anguish that tormented Arthur Lipsett, a famed Canadian experimental filmmaker who died at 49. Narrated by Xavier Dolan, the animated short uses a series of imagined diary entries transmuted into a clash of images and sounds to evoke the artist's frenzied creations and dizzying descent into depression and madness. Lipsett Diaries is produced by Marc Bertrand at the Nfb's French Animation Studio.
Check the trailer below!
A Beginners Guide to Endings Jonathan Sobol, Canada World Premiere
Raucous, charming and very funny, Jonathan Sobol's comedy A Beginners Guide to Endings follows three sons as they deal with their gambler father's somewhat complicated legacy. Featuring the legendary Harvey Keitel, the film also stars Scott Caan, Paolo Costanzo, Wendy Crewson, Tricia Helfer, Jason Jones, and J.K. Simmons.
Previously announced Canadian Galas include: The Bang Bang Club, Steven Silver; Barney's Version, Richard J. Lewis; Casino Jack, George Hickenlooper; Score: A Hockey Musical, Mike McGowan.
Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie Sturla Gunnarsson, Canada World Premiere
At 75 years old,
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