Ann Arbor Film Fest 2023, part 2

Blood of the Family Tree (Christine Panushka)

Symbolic animated film… maybe the MOST symbolic animated film. Red on white, cut-out humans becoming family trees. I made it less than ten minutes into this hour-long feature, up to the part where it’s just blood-related words/text on screen. Reminder not to watch movies with “inherited/generational trauma” in their descriptions.

Mud Man (Chikako Yamashiro)

People in a mud field chat vaguely, trying to understand their circumstances. They find a stock footage war scene montage over a beatbox soundtrack. Joyous movie, this is someone to watch out for.

Assemblage No. 2 (Nik Liguori)

Chiming bells… blurry closeups of flowers, then again through a prism. Experimental cinema 101.

Forms with Space and Distance and Hills (Jason Moyes)

More exp. cin. 101 – filming electric towers on Scottish hills, degrading the image, adding color filters, while messing around with a a lecturer’s voice on the soundtrack. This one worked for me though.

Beautiful Figures (Soetkin Verstegen)

Beautiful is right… figure animation on a scientific notebook. Text at right angles, nerve-rattling music on the soundtrack, tides come in and out, invisible water lines cutting characters into cross sections.

Laika (Deborah Stratman)

Deborah brings her star-person mirrors to the beach, reflecting sun and sea. Mammal-eyes shine in infra-dark. A space capsule parachuting to sea reverses, catching a thermal back into space. Sound “Laika” by Olivia Block.

Jill, Uncredited (Anthony Ing)

Background actor Jill rubs elbows with Meryl Streep, Topol, Anthony Hopkins, Mr. Bean and more. No narration, just some nice music and ka-klunk steenbeck sfx. Playing “spot Jill” becomes more fun as the movie goes on and her credits rack up, ending with a a title stating this was only 5% of her screen appearances. Reverse Shot: “Something about these many cinematic universes is exposed to be a sham. Indeed, the film’s intense attention to details that are not supposed to be noticed borders on conspiratorial.”

Looking Backward (Ben Balcom)

A hard one to describe. Stammering professor talks over depopulated images of buildings, then becomes coherent and profound when we finally see people in the stock footage. Really well done.

Light’s Return (Kathleen Rugh)

Cool frog sounds! Somebody took their camera down by the lake and filmed nothing much, then superimposed things over each other.

Der Blaue Reiter (Marcin Gizycki)

Color-field horses in motion interspersed by Kandinsky quotes and backed by dance music, ehh.

Of Wood (Owen Klatte)

Impressive work, a stop-motion carving, getting deeper into a chunk of wood as the film progresses. Relief drawings of wood-based nature and civilization advances, then a wooden human figure emerges and spends a few minutes just getting pummeled by all the objects springing from the tree (baseball bat, lincoln logs, “Between the World and Me” in hardcover) until he escapes at the end to read “Walden” under what’s left of the tree. Would’ve got the point just fine without some blocks spelling out “consume more.”

All the Blue Cats Look Like the Same Color (Wenzhe Xu)

Mannequins roam the deserted city (Scott Stark would approve), an apartment fills gradually with sand, a funeral parade mechanically walks by. Supposedly about internet slang replacing human language so I thought there’d be… any language… but I guess the lack of it is the point.

The Moon Rises During the Day (Na Li)

Abstract line patterns transmogrify across the page, sometimes forming figures, shapes, faces, and sometimes roaming free in their natural spaghetti mode.

Pigment-Dispersion Syndrome (Jennifer Reeves)

Brakhage-flicker of color blob corrosion, the occasional image relating to vision or color peeking through. Three sections with different audio: ambient music reversed, ambient music, mad science lab. Lovely.

Lo-Tech Reality (Guillermo Garcia Lopez)

Bookending narration of aliens coming to Detroit and finding no people, just vibrations. The rest is a drum loop music video of remixed urban decay, finding morse code in blinking lights and broken windows, with some nice compositions of dead buildings mirrored against the sky.

In the Big Yard Inside the Teeny-Weeny Pocket (Yoko Yuki)

“Here I am again, trapped in my sanity.” Peak Japanese cartoon-color explosion, ranting comic chaos with intertitles. Great widescreen design. I’ve gotta post this at work if it comes out on vimeo. Music by Honninman, who is on bandcamp.