If you don't yet know the work of Yvonne Rainer, after the 56th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, you most certainly will.
The post-modern dance maverick and her work will be highlighted during AAFF, which runs Tuesday, March 20 to Sunday, March 25. Rainer, who is known for her provocative style of dance and fragmented narrative style of film, began her career in the 1960s as a founder of the Judson Dance Theater. She then transitioned to film-making in the mid-'70s. After making seven experimental feature-length films, Rainer returned to choreography in 2000 when she choreographed After Many A Summer Dies a Swan for the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation. Currently, Rainer works with a troupe of talented people who take her dance to Europe and across the United States.
Rainer will present her essay-turned-lecture "A Truncated History of the Universe for Dummies: A Rant Dance" at the Michigan Theater on March 22 at 5:10 p.m. as part of the Penny Stamps Speakers series. (The documentary Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer screened at UMMA on March 7.)
On March 23 at 7 pm, Rainer's sixth feature film, Privilege, will be shown at the Michigan Theater screening room. Privilege is a pioneering take on menopause and was called her "most accessible film" by the Village Voice. Five Easy Pieces, her collection of short films made 1966-1969, screens Saturday, March 24, 4 pm at the Michigan Theater.
We chatted with Rainer about Privilege, Five Easy Pieces, filmmaking, and dance.
From Feb. 5 to April 16, the Michigan and State Theaters will be under the blade. Many blades, actually, as two film series exploring Japan’s historic warrior class will take over the screens.
Save for Kenji Mizoguchi's The 47 Ronin, all the films in the Enter the Samurai series at the Michigan Theater were written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, the most celebrated moviemaker in Japanese history. Every film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, screened at the State, is based on the epic manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
Enter the Samurai will occur weekly on Mondays except for March 26. Skipping a week gives viewers' sword scars a chance to heel since the Lone Wolf and Cub series will screen nightly between March 20-25. That’s hella consecutive days of samurai swords slicing up the cinema.
All 17 movies in both series are presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Written previews of each film are below courtesy of the Michigan and State, along with trailers and a link to the Samurai cinema in AADL's collection.
The Korean Cinema Now festival, sponsored by the Nam Center for Korean Studies, returns for its annual occupancy in the Michigan Theater’s 200-seat Screening Room theater. This year’s screenings are two Saturdays per month at 1 pm from Jan. 20 through April 21.
South Korea is known for its robust film industry, and the eight feature-length movies being shown at the Michigan Theater represent many high points from the peninsula's 2016-2017 movie scene.
But the best part of Korean Cinema Now? It's free.
Check out the trailers, dates, and synopses below:
The total combined running time of the eight movies in the first Ann Arbor Tech Film Showcase is 59 minutes -- which seems the perfect length in our age of hyper-accelerated information cycles.
Sponsored by Duo Security, Ann Arbor SPARK, A2Geeks, and Q+M, the Ann Arbor Tech Film Showcase is at the Michigan Theater on Friday, Jan. 19, 5-9 pm. Its mission is “to increase cultural diversity and interest in tech films and to promote, discuss and educate in the medium of science fiction and technology. We encourage rich storytelling, filled with infinite possibilities that challenge us and question our perception of the future.”
The evening kicks off with a pre-screening meet and greet in the lobby and the night will include a panel discussion with the filmmakers whose movies “explore a selection of short films that highlight the consequences of technology.”
The Ann Arbor Tech Film Showcase is free, but you have to register for tickets.
Here's a rundown of the shorts being shown:
The Threads All Arts Festival has finally been rescheduled. The second edition was originally set for August 2017 at the Ann Arbor Distilling Company, but when the city put a temporary kibosh on live events at the artisanal spirits space due to parking issues, Threads was called off. It took the U-M student-run festival a while to reorganize, but it has now found a home in Ypsilanti’s Historic Freighthouse and will present its rangy mix of live music, dance, film, poetry, and art on March 10-11.
The idea for Threads began in 2015 when Nicole Patrick (U-M 2016, percussion and jazz and contemporary improvisation) and her friends "wanted to find a way to share, with many people, all the amazing art they saw coming out of their friends and neighbors," they told Pulp contributor Anna Prushinskaya for piece meant to preview the 2017 edition.
But along with the break came a new mission statement that shows Threads has expanded its focus:
Me, the "Other" is a documentary that explores the ways race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender have impacted 12 Washtenaw County college students. The film makes its world premiere on Monday, Jan. 15, at the Michigan Theater.
"'Otherness' is never one thing" is the doc's guiding light as the filmmakers allow the students to tell their disparate tales in full so viewers can understand and appreciate their humanity. “I’ve come to see our differences in beauty like different flowers in one garden," said Shahrzad Mirafzali, co-producer of Me, the "Other" and University of Michigan School of Dentistry faculty member.
The list below is a collection of books, music, movies, and more that made an impression on our eyes and ears in 2017.
The March 17, 1942, edition of The Ann Arbor News was mental about the State. The paper’s entire second section was dedicated to the first movie theater to open in Ann Arbor since the Michigan Theater flung open its doors Jan. 5, 1928. “ABLAZE WITH RADIANT BEAUTY” trumpeted the all-caps headline above a glowing black-and-white photo of the State Theatre’s gorgeous marquee. At least 18 stories were published about the State (“New Local Theater Most Modern Found in Michigan”), its owners (“Butterfield Theaters, Inc. Now Operating 114 Houses”), and other film-related tales, including “Opening Of New Theater Revives Memories Here Of Student Riot In 1908,” which destroyed Ann Arbor’s original movie house, The Star. And the section was filled with congratulatory advertising, including one headlined “The New Pride of Ann Arbor,” purchased by the George W. Auch Co., the State Theatre’s general contractor, though 35 different firms worked on the build. That edition of the newspaper was a full-on love letter to the State Theatre, and The Michigan Daily was similarly smitten, dedicating six pages to movie-house-related stories. There’s akin ardor in today’s digital-media realm about the venerated movie house’s latest reinvention, which opens its doors to members on Friday, Dec. 8 and to the public on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Michigan native and U-M grad Councilman Jamm -- nee Jon Glaser -- sat down with us to discuss his television and comedy career on Nov. 26 at AADL's downtown branch. He created, starred in, and co-wrote the TV shows Neon Joe Werewolf Hunter, Jon Glaser Loves Gear, and Delocated. He is perhaps best known as the aforementioned Councilman Jamm on Parks and Recreation and and Laird on HBO's Girls. Other TV credits include Inside Amy Schumer, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Wonder Showzen.
When Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox walked out onto the Rackham stage, my immediate thought is that she is even more beautiful in person than on screen or in photos, and I don’t exactly understand how this is possible. She looks as though the sun is shining directly on her. I think maybe this is what actually mastering the art of highlighting looks like, but I’m also sure I could put on all the makeup in the world and I would still never look like that.
I’d like to say that as soon as she started speaking, all such frivolous thoughts left my head, but frankly, that would be a lie. I did settle in with the rest of the sold-out crowd that has come to see her as the keynote speaker on Nov. 15 for the 2017 CEW Spectrum of Advocacy & Activism Symposium put on by the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, and for the next hour and a half, listened to a great (if slightly scattered) talk that encompassed gender and race theory, her life story, and how the Ann Arbor community should respond should white supremacist Richard Spencer come to campus.
Cox opened her speech with an emotional acknowledgment of the standing ovation she was met with when she walked out on stage: "To see a whole room of people standing, applauding for a black transgender woman? I don't know, it still feels revolutionary." And it did to me, too, to see a whole room of people react to her speech as though they were in church, clapping and snapping along to her powerful words. The crowd was extremely diverse and I was moved to see so many folks of all ages, races, and genders listen so intently to Cox without questioning her right to speak.
Cox titled her talk “Ain’t I a Woman,” after Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech at the Women’s Rights Convention. White Americans have manipulated, exploited, and questioned the womanhood of black women since the day our country was founded, and now cis Americans do the same to trans women. Cox described how she, like Sojourner Truth before her, has been told that she isn’t really a woman, then executes a perfect hair flip and asked, “And ain’t I a woman?” The crowd went wild. The applause kept coming as Cox seamlessly transitioned from bell hooks to Cornel West to Judith Butler. I was trying to keep a list of every academic she mentioned and I wrote so fast that my hand cramped. I also had to ask my seatmate to borrow extra paper.
In recounting her life’s story, Cox told one particularly disturbing tale of her third-grade year, in which her teacher warned her mother that if she didn’t act soon, Cox would “end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.” Following this, Cox was forced to see a therapist who suggested injecting her prepubescent body with testosterone to make her more masculine. Luckily for Cox, her mother rejected this proposal, but that didn’t stop her childhood from being riddled with bullying, a church that branded her a sinner, and a suicide attempt at only 11 years old. Cox said she was lucky to get an excellent education and escape the violence of her youth. This is not, however, the experience of most trans women of color, a point that Cox was quick to make. She reminded the audience that 2017 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, and trans women of color are hit the hardest by this violence.
Despite this upsetting truth, Cox seemed genuinely hopeful about the future. She argued for bringing people into conversations rather than calling them out. Cox truly seems to believe in finding the humanity in everyone, although when asked about Richard Spencer’s possible visit to the University of Michigan campus, she was clear that certain beliefs and behaviors couldn't be tolerated. She stated that her current focus is on voting rights and working against gerrymandering. She implored the audience to “vote, vote, vote,” and she left us with the advice, “Stay woke and stay strong!” At that, the crowd rose as one to clap. Cox did one more hair flip, then turned and walked off stage, leaving behind some of the sunshine that she brought in.
A (partial) list of the scholars, artists, and activists Cox referenced in her speech:
Simone de Beauvoir
Evelyn Hollenshead is a Youth Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.