On today's Artpod, we hear from the festival's director, Donald Harrison. We also catch up with two longtime fans of the festival - one: an audience member, the other: a filmmaker - to hear some of their favorite film fest memories.
Festival-goer: "Every year I find at least two or three films that are just amazing."
John Johnson has been going to the Ann Arbor Film Festival since the late 1960s, and considers himself a big fan of the event.
He's such a big fan that when a film he likes doesn't win an award at the festival, he sends the filmmaker a "a few dollars myself and tell them what a great film it was." He says he's probably done that about four times, three of which have resulted in a letter back from the filmmaker and a DVD copy of the film.
One of his favorite memories was when he saw Claude LeLouch's "Rendezvous" at the 1976 film festival. He says the film "totally blew my mind," left him with goose bumps.
Johnson says every year he finds "at least two or three films that are just amazing, from my point of view." He says it's worth sitting in the theatre for hours to get to the films "that are just amazing that you would have nowhere else to see."
More than 5,000 films have been screened at the festival over the past five decades. The festival has gone through its ups and downs during that time, too, including cuts to state funding and a high-profile censorship controversy several years ago.
Donald Harrison, the festival’s executive director, says more than 230 films will be shown this time around, many by obscure filmmakers.
"We really encourage people just to have that open mind, that sense of discovery," says Harrison. "We guarantee that people will see things that really affect them in a rewarding way, and of course they’ll see things that maybe they don’t care as much about, but that’s probably someone else’s favorite film in the festival."
We caught up with two longtime fans of the festival - an audience member, and a filmmaker – to hear some of their favorite film fest memories.
Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid.
A remake of the seventies Motown-inspired movie Sparkle will be filmed in metro Detroit and employ 266 people. The state approved a three-million-dollar film incentive for the seven-million-dollar project. Sparkle tells the story of three sisters’ journey to musical fame during the height of the Motown era in Detroit.
Michelle Begnoche is with the Michigan Film Office. She says the film will stimulate Michigan’s economy.
"This is a project that’s focused really a lot on hiring Michigan workers for its crew so we will see the economic benefit from that – hiring our workforce – and then obviously it’s something that we can use on the backend after it comes out to kind of help promote tourism in the Detroit area," Begnoche said.
Republican state senator Rick Jones says Michigan’s film tax credit might need to be trimmed, but he doesn’t think it should be eliminated.
Governor Rick Snyder has said he’s going to put Michigan’s generous film tax credit policy under the microscope.
Movie companies can get up to a 42 percent tax credit if they film here.
But State Sen. Rick Jones says movies made in Michigan can be good for the state, because a hitcan bring residual money into a community:
A good example would be "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve." We still have people traveling to Mackinac Island to see where that movie was made. There are still souvenirs sold, and it increases tourism.
Jones says his position has nothing to do with the possibility that the next Batman movie may be shot in his hometown of Grand Ledge.
Another movie, “Red Dawn,” was also filmed in Grand Ledge and is awaiting release.