Notes from the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival: Opening Reception

Ann Arbor Film Fest reception If the Ann Arbor Film Festival is a study in eclecticism (we would argue it is), then the Opening Night Reception is the case in point. Normally we would, and in the past we have, provide a mostly eloquent rundown of the night's events - the sponsors, the snacks, the shorts- but this year we're doing something a little bit different. We're calling it Notes From the Festival and it's exactly that. Everything that stood out in the sensory overload of offerings and we deemed worthy of a note. They have been since categorized in post-production.

Jon and Zack, Raven's Club champions / Photo: Zach Esposito

From the Open-Bar

- Raven's Club provided a customized menu. Not entirely sure they were accepting off-menu orders (guessing no), but no one seemed to be complaining.

- The Cold War was excellent.

- Raven's Club is also showcasing some signature liquors - including Rain, an organic vodka - in really interesting bottles.

- As is to be expected, there is always a line; some intelligent soul thought to put the silent auction of community and otherwise art and baskets exactly where this line passed

- In line, some people will choose to discuss spaghetti, at 7:25pm a man amuses his companion with the story of the best bar mitzvah he's ever been to

- The bartenders are Jon Tipton - general manager of Raven's Club - and Zack Zavisa, this is their second year pouring libations at the festival, and they are all-stars

Photo: Zach Esposito

Highlights of the Smorgasbord

- The dessert table, which we hit first, boasted some delicious macaroons, and an unreasonable selection of Cupcake Station mini offerings.

- Fig jam and goat cheese crackers

- Hummus spread from Jerusalem Garden

- Caprese something-or-other

- Really the whole spread was impressive, it was like the Taste of Ann Arbor consolidated into one long banquet table


Assorted Observations of the Reception

- The crowd is pretty evenly split between the 20-something students (?) and 40-something festival veterans

- The DJ (Jeremy Wheeler) is spinning real records; it's all very 70s/80s/Factory-feeling

- The theater was the place to mingle casually or sit and snack/sip; the lobby was the place to see, be seen, and find old fest friends; the balcony was the place to stand in line for drinks or bid on art

- In addition to a collection of avant-garde film, the AAFF could double as a convention for alternative hair styles, the variety of volume, length, shaved and not shaved, and beards was really outstanding

- A man is spotted with a magnificent cowboy hat, he will be spotted continuously over the festival, identified by said hat

- AJ Daulerio's doppelganger was in attendance

- Art Garfunkel circa Bridge Over Troubled Water may have time-traveled back to attend

Art from auction, Bowie and Davey Crockett / Photo: Zach Esposito

The Opening Night Screening, as Told by the Hecklers

Maybe it was the open bar, but the audience was feeling particularly chatty as the shorts began

- "It's my birthday!": apropos of nothing while David Dinnell, program director, was thanking sponsors and participants

excessive shushing: in response to "it's my birthday"

- "God bless you": an unnecessarily vocal gesundheit

- "Is this a movie about dogs? You shush! Oh no!!!" : reacting to the title card "Rating Dogs on a Scale of 1 to 10" (side note: best short ever)

barking : see above

Final Notes from the Screening

There was a bizarre French short about a turkey named Marcel, but it featured stellar commentary like "12 hours later...woo woo! I'm still alive"

- The audience was surprisingly entertained by the slapstick of a car being destroyed in a junk yard

- A lot of nature shots juxtaposed with deteriorating industrialism

- You look like an asshole when you take notes on your phone in a dark theater, even if you're in the last row