Monday, April 11, 2011

Ann Arbor Docu Fest

free documentary films every Monday ~ 7pm
Cafe Ambrosia, 326 Maynard Street, Ann Arbor
behind Nickels Arcade


Monday, May 2 - Waste Land

What happens in the world's largest trash city will transform you.

An uplifting film highlighting the transformative power of art. Internationally acclaimed artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional journey from Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the heights of international art stardom. Vik collaborates with the brilliant catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, true Shakespearean characters.

Even as Vik understands how to manipulate and respect the art world, he also understands how ludicrous it is. A show in London, which pickers attended, became a catalyst for change in their lives and in the lives of spectators.

Muniz makes sure no one feels sorry for the catadores, some of whom have never known anything but the landfill. Waste Land is a dignified story about the potential of the poor to rise out of garbage through art to a better life. For this reason, Muniz stands with great humanitarians like Albert Schwitzer and Mother Theresa.

Monday, May 9 - Psywar

The film explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the US, with an emphasis on the “elitist theory of democracy” and the relationship between war, propaganda and class. This is not a high budget affair, but was financed via a blue collar job. The interviews contained within are original and were conducted by proxy. If you are interested in how we are manipulated into believing the things we do — watch this film.

Includes original interviews with a number of dissident scholars including Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, Peter Phillips ("Project Censored"), John Stauber ("PR Watch"), Christopher Simpson ("The Science of Coercion") and others.

Monday, May 16 - Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story rating: 9.2! Brick by Brick recounts the monumental struggle between the federal government and Yonkers over segregation in the city’s neighborhoods and schools -- and is more than just a news story from the '80’s. It should be a sober warning about the present day. America — never mind Yonkers — still grapples with unsettled issues of poverty and race, and until that conundrum is resolved, it will keep reasserting itself in new and troubling way.

The film, produced and directed by Bill Kavanagh ( is a fascinating artifact. It lays out the city’s gridwork of racial separation. It revisits the heated meetings and demonstrations that erupted over plans to disperse poor residents from black neighborhoods into white ones. It shows the stubbornness that led the Yonkers City Council to endure crippling fines over its refusal to bend to a federal judge’s will and enact an affordable housing plan.

The story is told through the recollections of three families whose quiet calm and good sense make the madness around them surreal. But the events really happened — the library closings, the political grandstanding, the suicide of a young ex-mayor, the bittersweet ribbon cuttings for some houses here and there.

Monday, May 23 - Winnebago Man

Opening with a deeply sincere "I don't give a fuck!" - Winnebago Man features Jack Rebney, a hermit living atop a California mountain with a dog named Buddha. He's a former broadcast journalist, hence the cultivated voice that makes his Youtube rant, The Angriest Man in the World, so entertaining. (It's his profane tantrum while making a 1989 RV infomercial.)

This hilarious and poignant film could be the most genuine and true cinematic representation of a human being. Rebney is a complex, contradictory, and intensely intelligent man. As filmmaker Ben Steinbauer pushes harder to draw Rebney out, the docu becomes as much about the volatile relationship between the filmmaker and his subject as about the subject himself.

Rebney, both funny and philosophical, isn't just a source of amusement; he's an example of true, real, complete humanity. He's like us, but has no need to fit in anymore.

Cafe Ambrosia ~ (734) 929-9979

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