Appellate Judge James A. Stewart hopes moving flowers are a filmmaking trick, not triffids.
Our reviews of Ann Arbor Film Festival DVD Collection, Volume 1: Time Pieces (published January 17th, 2009) and Ann Arbor Film Festival DVD Collection, Volume 3 (published March 9th, 2011) are also available.
"Over 105 minutes of high caliber, avant garde and art driven short films from the 47th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival."
You know what they say: You may not be able to get to Ann Arbor, but you can always have a bit of Ann Arbor in your own home, thanks to the annual DVD collections of short films from the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Nine films from the film fest founded in 1963 are featured in The 47th Ann Arbor Film Festival DVD Collection: Volume 2. The theme is "Unexplored Territories."
The films are:
• Studies in Transfalumination
• Quiero Ver
• Cattle Call
• Blue Tide, Black Water
• Video Terraform Dance Party
• A City to Yourself
This year's collection is full of visually striking films, most of which seem to be the visual expression of a single thought or idea. The two longer films, Nora and A City to Yourself, were the ones that drew my attention, with good ideas expressed to the fullest.
Like dance, Nora is a stylized drama, as you'll note from a recreated fight scene and a classroom scene in which students learn about Colgate toothpaste. As scenes from her life are dramatized, Nora Chipaumire dances. The movement is emphasized by frequent closeups of the feet of Chipaumire and other dancers. It feels like a stage work expanded to film, and it has grown well.
You'll see people occasionally as Nicole Macdonald tours A City to Yourself, but her emphasis is on the empty buildings and the way nature has returned to reclaim the city. These, she says, cannot be hidden as easily as people. Surprisingly, there are times when you might not even recognize the Motor City because of its lack of urban motion. "There are blocks of Detroit neighborhoods now that look like fields," she says at one point in her thoughtful narrative essay. Anyone who's ever thought about what an abandoned big box store might look like should see this one.
Video and audio quality are highly variable; you can expect a lot of grain with low-budget short films. With the exception of Nora, the films are full frame. Nora appears to be 1.78:1, and it's not anamorphic. "The Making of…The Next Car," a short which shows a team decorating a car and taking it on the road, is the only substantive extra, although you may be amused by the Monty Python-like animation on the sponsor list and a festival promo.
With two excellent shorts taking up the bulk of the running time, Ann Arbor Film Festival is worth a look if you're into shorts and experimental film.
Not guilty. I can almost feel the "light wintry mix" that Weather.com has predicted for Ann Arbor. Brrrr…
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