The 46th Ann Arbor Film Festival will be held from March 25–30. More than 100 independent filmmakers from around the world are expected to attend, in addition to several special guests on a night devoted to freedom of speech issues. Among those guests are Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, cinematographer-filmmaker Ellen Kuras, and artist Steve Kurtz.
Larry Flynt will join producer-director Joan Brooker-Marks for the screening of her documentary Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone, which plays on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30pm at the Michigan Theater.
From the Ann Arbor festival website:
"Both hero and villain, purveyor of pornography and tireless civil rights advocate, the always controversial publisher of Hustler magazine Larry Flynt is the subject of Joan Brooker-Marks new tell-all documentary Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone.
"In a timely response to a current political situation where the fundamental civil rights of Americans are being challenged, the film offers an eye-opening and authoritative overview of Flynt’s long-standing struggles to expand the parameters of free speech and expose the hypocrisy of this country’s elected leaders. Featuring rarely seen documentary and television footage, as well as in-depth interviews with Flynt himself, the documentary focuses on the self-confessed smut peddler’s usually contentious entanglements with politics — from his precedent-setting Supreme Court case against evangelist and adulterer Jerry Falwell, to his prison sentence for refusing to name his source for the tapes documenting the FBI’s entrapment of John DeLorean, to his campaign runs for both California governor and President.
"Brooker-Marks also profiles Flynt’s confrontation of the current administration of George W. Bush on the issues of civil liberties and government transparency. Flynt exposed the administration’s staged rescue of Army Private Jessica Lynch — choosing not to publish naked photographs taken of the 19-year-old, which Flynt felt, would add to her victimization. Additionally, he successfully sued Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for press access to the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan."
(Now, Flynt is the smut peddler? Not Falwell, Bush, or Rumsfeld? Hm…)
The screening will be followed by a (must-see) Q&A with Flynt and Brooker-Marks.
Also at the Ann Arbor festival, Ellen Kuras, best known for her cinematography work (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shine a Light), and Thavisouk Phrasavath will present their documentary The Betrayal at 5:00pm on Saturday, March 29.
Filmed over a 23-year period, The Betrayal tells the story of the Phrasavath’s family escaping from Laos and then struggling to adapt to life in the United States.
A brief synopsis from the Ann Arbor festival website:
"Thavisouk Phrasavath narrates this deeply personal and poetic memoir of himself as a young man struggling to survive war and life as an immigrant, revealing the hidden, human face of war’s ’collateral damage.’"
Later that same evening, Steve Kurtz will make a rare public appearance in conjunction with a screening of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture at 10:00pm. As per the festival’s press release, "the film mixes genres to tell and re-create the surreal story of Buffalo, NY artist Steve Kurtz whose F.B.I. arrest for bio-terrorism sent shockwaves through the art community in May 2004."
From the festival’s website:
"The surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz began when his wife Hope [played by Tilda Swinton in the documentary] died in her sleep of heart failure. Police who responded to Kurtz’s 911 call deemed Kurtz’s art suspicious and called the FBI. Within hours the artist was detained as a suspected ’bioterrorist’ as dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits sifted through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, his cat, and even his wife’s body. Today Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date. The screening will be accompanied by the world-premiere exhibition of objects left behind by the FBI upon the raid on Kurtz’ home."
Even Kafka couldn’t have come up with something that bizarre. (And those are your tax dollars at waste…)
Kurtz will be joined by Lucia Sommer, of the Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund, who will be able to answer questions which Kurtz, still on trial, cannot because of legal constraints.
Former University of Michigan art professor Rich Pell will also join the festival, premiering the installation "Body of Evidence," showcasing the legions of trash left behind from the F.B.I’s investigation of Kurtz.
Also on Saturday, Jim Finn will be in attendance for the world premiere of his new film The Juche Idea. "Mixing together North Korean archival propaganda films, the Juche teachings of Kim Jong-il, and a documentary exploration of a modern day Korean artist residency, Finn has created a masterful work examining the underpinnings of North Korean culture and media."