Oscar-Nominated Documentary: If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front

Thursday March 1, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Celebrate the Oscars with this special screening of one of this year's Best Documentary nominees - a rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's number one domestic terrorist threat.

For years, the Earth Liberation Front (the collective name for individuals using economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment) launched spectacular acts of arson against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment, including timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses and a $12 million ski lodge in Vail, Colorado.

The film weaves together a variety of clashing points of view using candid interviews and a trove of archival material (much of it never before seen). The result is a nuanced film (that is not rated) that asks its audience to wrestle with questions intentionally left unresolved.

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond JubileeDiamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee
February 6 marked the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 year reign starting in 1952. To read about the Diamond Jubilee celebrations click here. Recent biographies written about the Queen include: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by noted biographer Sally Bedell Smith. Smith follows the young princess as a student to a love-struck teen (after meeting Philip) through her current reign. This is a well-written and engrossing account of a Queen that successfully balances royal tradition and modernity. Another title, The Real Elizabeth : an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, takes on the subject of the role of the monarchy itself specifically under her auspices over the past 60 years and how it has changed over time. And do not forget, her royal consort, Prince Philip, who has served by her side (and one step behind her). There is a recent biography, Prince Philip : the turbulent early life of the man who married Queen Elizabeth II that focuses on his turbulent childhood as his family is exiled from Greece (where he was born) to his mother’s schizophrenia and his father leaving him at an early age in order to live with his mistress. His charm and good looks eventually win him the hand of the-then Princess Elizabeth for whom he renounces his titles, religion and even family. A storybook romance indeed! To read more about their life together, read Philip and Elizabeth : portrait of a royal marriage. Movies about her include Helen Mirren’s outstanding portrayal in the Queen and the British TV show, Queen : a dramatic portrait of one of the world's most powerful women, as well as several documentaries including Windsors, a royal family.

The Monster Squad, on DVD

As a classic kid-comedy film from 1987, The Monster Squad is underrated. Not enough people of a certain generation have seen this film, and I speak of my peers. Peers who, when hearing a quote from this movie during a trivia contest, hadn’t heard of the movie, let alone recognized the quote. The silence of the film's initial release in 1987 was slowly followed by a rebirth as it was discovered by old and new fans. After 20 years of VHS life, it was finally released on DVD.

The film follows 12-year-old Sean, his best pal Patrick, and their gang of misfit friends. As fans of classic horror films, they gather in the local tree house to talk monsters. The monsters become all too real when Count Dracula shows up in town with the Wolf Man, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Gill Man, all searching for an ancient amulet that will shift the balance of good and evil, giving Dracula control. It’s up to Sean and the newly formed Monster Squad to stop the end of the world from arriving.

It’s a zany pre-teen adventure, filled with pesky little sisters, creepy neighbors, childlike one-liners, and a swirling vortex of evil. The two-disc 20th anniversary edition of the film is available at AADL on DVD and Blu-ray.

Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive

In celebration of the Ann Arbor Film Festival's 50th year, AADL has partnered with the AAFF to launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, an online collection of the Festival's history. Here you can browse through past programs or flyers and posters reaching back to the Festival's origins in 1963. The site also includes photographs, historical newspaper articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and interviews. (Look for additional interviews with past festival directors and visiting filmmakers to appear leading up to and following the 50th anniversary.)

If you have AAFF documents you would like to share - in particular, any from the few seasons we're currently missing - please contact us!

Celebrate 50 Years of the Ann Arbor Film Festival!

Friday, February 3, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join Ann Arbor Film Festival executive director, Donald Harrison, and other voices from the Festival's past, this Friday evening as we celebrate the Festival's 50th anniversary with the launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the AAFF, Donald will present some behind-the-scenes stories from the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. AADL staff will also offer a sneak peek into Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, which launches that night. This website will provide access to historical Festival programs, flyers, posters, photographs, articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and other documents from the Festival's past. Light refreshments will be served.

My Dog Tulip

My Dog Tulip is the story of a man who rescues a German shepherd and how the two quickly become the best of friends. The animated film is based on J.R. Ackerly’s acclaimed memoir of the same title. The book was printed in1956 and tells the story of Ackerly’s adoption of an 18 month old German shepherd, and is an endearing display of the relationship a man can have with his pet.

Truman Capote states that the book is "one of the greatest books ever written by anybody in the world.” I don’t know about that, but it’s a beautiful gem of film! (Also available on Blu-ray.)

A Lannister Wins GOLD(en) Globe

As the award season comes into full swing our favorite movies, television shows, actors and actresses are again vying for top honors. One of my favorites among the vast talent in Hollywood is Peter Dinklage who plays the role of Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones, which is based on the book of the same title by George R.R. Martin.

Dinklage who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Series at this years Golden Globes won for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister. However, this is not the first award Dinklage has won for this role, he also won the Emmy in the same category. Peter Dinklage's career has been spread between film and television. Here are a list of films AADL carries that Dinklage can be found in; the most noteworthy being his role in the Station Agent where he won in 2003 for Best Actor at the Ourense Independent Film Festival.

Death at a Funeral (2007) and (2010)
Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian
Elf
Penelope
Find me Guilty
Underdog
Lassie

Game of Thrones is set to return for a second season on HBO in April.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Event - Film: Brainman: The Boy With The Incredible Brain

Sunday January 15, 2012: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2012 focuses on the book "Born On A Blue Day: Inside The Mind Of An Autistic Savant" by Daniel Tammet - a journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today--guided by the owner himself. Get to know the author better as you gain insight into the mind of this extraordinary individual through this documentary, "Brainman: The Boy With The Incredible Brain."

Daniel Tammet is one of the world's 100 living geniuses. A twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel Tammet is one of the world's few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week.

This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone. He also meets the world's most famous savant, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in the Oscar winning film Rain Man.

More December's Books to Film

Steven Spielberg directs Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and David Thewlis in War Horse (PG-13), based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo - a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War.

It begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets.

John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is adapted by Director Tomas Alfredson for Universal Pictures into a feature film starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy.

This international espionage action-thriller is set at the height of the Cold War when George Smiley, a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government in fear that MI-6 has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets.

Life In A Day, on DVD

Life In A Day is a documentary made up of footage submitted by YouTube users from around the globe. It depicts each user’s day as it happened on July 24, 2010. The independent film includes scenes selected from over 4,500 hours of footage in 80,000 submissions from 192 nations. Roughly 25% of the content is not from YouTube, but from cameras that were mailed to developing countries, as the filmmakers wanted it to be a representation of the whole world. Director Kevin Macdonald and producer Ridley Scott focused a single day, "because a day is the basic temporal building block of human life—wherever you are."

It is an amazing concept to use the giant online video-sharing community as a tool to capture a pool of co-directors to tell the story of human life. There are moments of happiness, sadness, and boredom as people are working, celebrating, mourning, and going about daily chores in a variety of cultures, from morning until evening. The film is a deeply moving story of a single day on earth that celebrates humanness.

Life In A Day received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to being released on DVD and Blu-ray, the film is viewable in its entirety for free on its own YouTube channel.

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