Ann Arbor Film Festival: 'The Gayest Ever'

48th line-up includes Out Night, queer-film pioneer Kenneth Anger

By Chris Azzopardi

ANN ARBOR - The Ann Arbor Film Festival explores "the new world of independent cinema" at the 48th festival, taking place March 23-29. With 33 film screenings, daily free events, educational opportunities and multiple world premieres, adventure-seeking audiences will have ample opportunities to experience the full realm of independent cinema. And lots of gay.

"This year we feature a lot of LGBT-themed programs and filmmakers. In fact, you could even say it's likely our gayest year ever!" said Donald Harrison, the executive director of the festival.

The Google-sponsored "Out Night" returns at 7 p.m. March 25 in Michigan Theater's main auditorium for a second year in a row. Several shorts and "City of Borders," an hour-long documentary about Jerusalem's only gay bar and the lives that intersect across ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and politics, will be featured. Also included is a short from Detroit-area filmmaker Scott Northrup called "Everything to Live For," a mysterious and melancholic melodrama.

At 7:30 p.m. March 24, Montreal artist Daniel Barrow will perform a live "manual animation" show. His performance is story-driven, according to Harrison, and features a main character who's gay - as is Barrow.

And the queerness continues through the weekend as legendary gay-film pioneer Kenneth Anger - known for the homoerotic "Fireworks," released in 1947 - makes an appearance on March 27. The conversation will follow screenings of his restored films on 35mm at 7:30 p.m.

"We view it as an important event for the LGBT community," said Harrison. "'Fireworks' (is) regarded by many as the first celebratory gay film shown. And 'Scorpio Rising,' also screening that night, really shook up the film world with its exploration of masculinity and biker chick and use of music, influencing generations of filmmakers from Scorsese to Warhol to David Lynch."

Before Anger, at 12:30 p.m. March 27, the festival is hosting a special screening of work by German filmmaker Matthias Muller - another longtime force within the queer, avant-garde film scene, Harrison says. That same day, at 5 p.m., the documentary "Off and Running," about a 15-year-old black girl in New York City raised by two Jewish lesbian mothers, will be shown.

"It's a powerful and compelling film for all audiences," said Harrison, "but of course has a strong interest for the LGBT crowd."

Sounds like a running theme.

Ann Arbor Film Festival

March 23-29

Michigan Theater

603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor

http://www.aafilmfest.org

For full program details, advance tickets and to explore this year's "new world of independent cinema," visit http://47.aafilmfest.org.
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