The 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival is underway and advocates for the arts hit Washington to fight for greater federal support. Those are just a few of the topics highlighted in this week's 'Cinema Chat' with David Fair and Russ Collins.
WASHINGTON POST! Arts advocates make case for increasing federal arts funding
Hundreds of artists and arts leaders from 48 states [including Russ Collins and Deb Polich] took to Capitol Hill Tuesday for the annual Arts Advocacy Day, a national effort to increase federal support for cultural programs. Some 550 arts supporters – including actors Holland Taylor, Doc Shaw and Victoria Rowell and O.A.R. bandmates Marc Roberge and Richard On – met with their local representatives to tout the economic benefits of the arts, their link to better student test scores and their role in healing wounded veterans.
Their bottom line message: Congress should increase the $146 million given to the National Endowment for the Arts. “Every federal dollar leverages nine non-federal dollars,” Congressional Arts Caucus co-chairman Leonard Lance (R-NJ) said. “The multiplier effect is undeniable.” Members of the Congress, NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William “Bro” Adams and a host of others shared inspirational thoughts and talking points at a two-hour early morning breakfast and pep rally.
Americans for the Arts organized the 28th annual event. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) performed a little soft shoe, while Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) gave a sermon. “The Civil Rights movement without the arts would have been like a bird without wings,” Lewis said. “Some of you know I believe in drama. Sometimes you must find a way to get in the way. Go out and do what you must do.” Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) accepted the 2015 Congressional Arts Leadership Award, given annually by the Americans for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors. “We need a United States of America that puts the arts front and center of American life,” Udall said after accepting the award.
The 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival continues! Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for experimental filmmaking and films by artist-filmmakers, the 53rd Festival will feature more than 200 films, videos (many of the films/videos in short format) and live performances. Weekend highlights include “Iron Ministry,” filmed over three years on China’s railways; regional films in competition featuring films from southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio; and a special tribute to AAFF Founder George Manupelli, and many more. The 53rd AAFF continues through March 29.
“Human Capital” begins at the end, as a cyclist is run off the road by a careening SUV the night before Christmas Eve. As details emerge of the events leading up to the accident, the lives of the well-to-do Bernaschi family, privileged and detached, will intertwine with the Ossolas, struggling to keep their comfortable middle-class life, in ways neither could have expected. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post says “With its stylish lines and creamy production values, ‘Human Capital’ combines the luxurious look of a classic wish-fulfillment fantasy with a stinging critique of capitalism's excesses and psychic costs.” “Human Capital” opens Monday at the Michigan Theater.
In “It Follows,” for 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), the fall should be about school, boys and weekends at the lake. Yet, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter she suddenly finds herself plagued by nightmarish visions; she can't shake the sensation that someone, or something, is following her. As the threat closes in, Jay and her friends must somehow escape the horrors that are only a few steps behind. “It Follows” opens Friday at the State Theatre.
“Woman in Gold” is the remarkable true story of one woman's journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman (Helen Mirren) starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis. She embarks upon a major battle which takes her all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way. “Woman in Gold” opens Friday, April 3 at the Michigan Theater.
Opening at the Multiplex
In “Get Hard,” when millionaire hedge fund manager James (will Ferrell) is nailed for fraud and bound for a stretch in San Quentin, he turns to Darnell (Kevin Hart) to prep him for a life behind bars. But despite James’ assumptions, Darnell is a hard-working small business owner who has never gotten parking ticket, let alone been to prison. Together, the two men do whatever it takes for James to “get hard” and, in the process, discover how wrong they were about a lot of things – including each other. “Get Hard” opens Friday.
“Home” tells the story of Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, who lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people. He forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. Featuring the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez, “Home” opens Friday.
Special Screenings Downtown
One of the earliest feature films to reflect the video-game craze of the 1980s, “Tron” stars Jeff Bridges as a computer programmer who becomes part of the very game that he’s programming. Though antiquated by today’s standards, “Tron” represented the last word in special effects back in 1982. “Tron” plays Saturday March 28 at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre. Tickets just $8!
“The Asphalt Jungle” is this week’s Noir film. The realistic, documentary-like, urban crime/heist film was one of the first films that completely and specifically detailed how to pull off an authentic-looking heist – something usually considered morally improper under the Production Code. “The Asphalt Jungle” plays Monday, March 30 at 7 PM.
Detroit Public Television presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” featuring a post-screening discussion with Col. Ronald Shun, who will share information on resources available to veterans throughout the SE Michigan region. “Last Days in Vietnam” plays Tuesday March 31 at 7 PM. Admission is free.
Ozone House presents “The Homestretch,” which follows three homeless teens as they brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school, and life on the streets to build a brighter future. Panel discussion to follow. “The Homestretch” plays Wednesday April 1 at 6:30 PM. Admission is free.