Ann Arbor Film Festival as Anthem Rock by Gerry Fialka 2021

Ann Arbor Film Festival as Anthem Rock by Gerry Fialka

The Ann Arbor Film Festival ROCKS!!! In March 2021, the 59th annual fest crushed it.

My essay (a 34 minute read) on the 58th entitled Film Fest Fugue was like an orchestral symphony.

The following essay for the 59th is more like a hit single. The current industry standard for attention span is 10 seconds. Be bold and spend a few minutes with the following words. Mediate the brain’s frontal area and yell “1–2–3–4 focus.”

Ironically, I spent over 6 daze (fifty hours plus) online watching the 59th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival in real time on two thirteen inch laptops. My reactions evoke the book Reality Hunger by David Shields. Call me at 310–306–7330 or email, and I will suss out all the sources. My 60+ pages of notes ca-ca-ca-conjure the sensory overload (or is it orgasm?) of hybridzing hieroglyphics and poetry.

In the late 40’s Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris were singing the first “rockin’” anthems empowering people dancing to popular music with a strong beat, and sing repeatable lyrics. These tropes resonate with film festival aesthetics. Frank Zappa described his Hot Rats album over fifty years ago, a “movie for your ears.”

Maestro Craig Baldwin imagined that when he first got to Ann Arbor years ago for the Festival the MC5 would be kickin’ out the jams on the streets in raucous righteous revolution.

Let’s do it . . . Boogie on . . . A-wap-bop-a-lup-bop, A-wop-bam-boom . . .

As Aretha Franklin sang, “Who’s zoomin who?” I jump into the mosh pit with a moving image probe.


Deb Todd Wheeler yelps, “That was awesome.” Thanks Deb.

Michael Lyons admits no permission be-spotting “Queen of Dots” Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama with a silence that is very loud in hypnogenetics blowing my mind.

Jim Finn parted the “sees” of General Ulysses S. Grant’s path liberating the southern United States ala part travelogue, part essay film, and part landscape documentary causing me to interview him for over 90 minutes.

He hoicks up alot more than hex-and-counter wargames and bubblegum cards from the hobbyist gamer subcultures that have sprung up around the Civil War.

Ephraim Asili’s “The Inheritance” makes the revolution “reel” and expands Sun Ra’s statement: “The impossible attracts me because everything possible has been done and the world didn’t change.” Poet-activist Sonia Sanchez — Goddess Supreme versifies.

“In the Hands of Puppets” embodies identities about feelings when Kubrick’s monolith appears in everyone’s pockets as black mirrors (or black masses — McLuhan’s words for Finnegans Wake) animating psychosocial innerviews by artist duo Sarah & Charles. Mind bending (as the AAFF slogan promises). “I feel fear of failure” is heard. Counter with Frank Zappa, (who satirized this Stanleyes’d darkness as lightness in 200 Motels) whose maxim can help: “I am a failure, but not a miserable failure.”

Amanda Krugliak’s engaging Q&A sessions with filmmakers in real time trip the light fantastic. I appreciate Tom Bray’s tremendously helpful trouble shooting. Years ago, I remember Karl Krogstad’s end credits reading, “any complaints talk to the projectionist.” Reboot, refresh, repeat.

Sanaz Sohrabi tells a different history by anti-colonializing photos from British Petroleum archives. I stare deep into my subconscious as Sanaz says “I look for an image only to find its pieces elsewhere.”

Mark Street is forever effecting our discussion whether it is possible to act sincerely on camera.

Lynn Loo expands the purr of the projector. What goes through her head? The new nature? Can any use be traced to the user? User is the content?

Jyoti Mistry verbalizes her haunting film: “The woman with a curious and peering-look on her face at the end of the film is one I find haunting. She is an every-woman in a way and yet she is distinctive and her stare straight into the camera is arresting because she demands to be seen.” I feel that stunning stare.

“Danni The Champion” made me get up and dance.

Thorsten Fleisch’s immersion into “we like speed because it’s dangerous” swirls in fortune telling, Super 8mm, hypnosis and Peter Kubelka. AAFF is always enabling the rethinking of past icons.

Hannah Hummel’s “Honest Money” ponders the implications of direct eye contact . . . for more than 7 seconds . . .which some say implies “kill’em or fuck’em.” Yikes!

Is “The Truth about Hastings” that “it’s all tactile holograms”? Or an intergalactic psychedelic nightmare? or Chico Marx’s

“Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

Do you live more intently knowing you are going to die? Can you forget to die? . . .

. . . Contrary to “Long Live the Living,” as Bunuel yelled. I keep happening into affinity with artists who are living in the present and writing a detailed history of the future. Like Sholey Asgary & Heather Kapplow, whose stunning interactive performance “Maybe You’re A Peach Tree Maybe” unveiled “Carefully make plans, then do the opposite.” I was so immersed in reality that I did not read the instructions. Laughing and recalling the “Department of Redundancy Department” of Firesign Theater.

Jean-Baptiste Decavele showed sketch books that raises questions about “the weakness of my gaze.” Which gaze? The nuance gaze, female gaze, human gaze, male gaze, the eyes wide shut gaze, or the interior landscapey gaze?

“#21XOXO” swirls in social media, speed dating, cybery post-net-tudes animation. I was upset, happy, confused. It showed me what the world is made of.

Emily Van Loan’s different visual aberrations boiled water.

I was thrilled to learn about the Pulfrich phenomenon, which is a neuro-ophthalmic observation in which two-dimensional (2-D) objects are perceived to be three-dimensional (3-D) due to slight discrepancies in signal transmission time between a set of eyes and the visual cortex. The relative delay in conduction in one of the optic pathways causes a discrepancy in visual perception between the two eyes and may cause difficulties in daily activities, such as watching moving image art.

Is it “what are you going to do?” . . . not . . . “what you lost?” Can you see your breath? Your own eyes?

I see what you are saying. Let’s stay in touch. Tactility is the interplay of all the senses.

AAFF unifies diversity in images and sounds, grasping the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. A labyrinth of ann and arbor, film and festival, time and space, eye and ear. Harmonize the twain. Transform the Mark Twain maxim: “to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail” into “to someone with a screen, everything looks like the Ann Arbor Film Festival.”

The history of cinema is approximate 130 years, and the AAFF is celebrating 60 years in 2022 with the winners night scheduled for March 27, which happens to be the 94th Oscars. Paradoxical parallel multiverses?

What is the mystery of movies? Do they more activate or pacify us?

Sing-a-long the chorus. Show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for AAFF director Leslie Raymond & crew

Find out what it means to . . . “us.”

Tell me how this rock anthem makes you feel. We can compose a medley of melodious, macaronic and meditative music. Punk-funk out. Be playful. Notice the patterns and wrestle “coming back to it” rather than “circumventing it.”

What is it? Maybe this comparison is off, film is film and music is music. Pull the wool over your own eyes. Avant to be a cinemetrician, evoking Erik Satie self-proclaiming himself a “phonometrician, one who measures sound,” and not a musician. Try massaging, not measuring, cinema. Calambouric paronomasia?

Please drop me a line: Gerry or call 310–306–7330 (landline).


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store