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Echo Park Film Center and Los Angeles Filmforum teamed up and opened their 2008-2009 seasons with a delightful event that took place on Sunday, September 14th in Echo Park: the presentation of the 46th Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour (Part 1) - Best of Independent, Experimental & Artistically- Inspired Short Films. After brief introductions on behalf of Lisa Marr, Adam Hyman and Christen McArdle, respectively directors of EPFC, FF and AAFF, we were offered the superb opportunity to see the latest in experimental and independent film & video, including documentaries and animation.

Founded in 1963, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running showcase of independent, experimental and artistically- inspired films in North America. The AAFF is committed to supporting visionary filmmakers, promoting the art of film, and providing communities with remarkable cinematic experiences. In 2007, Variety magazine named the AAFF one of the "Top Ten Festivals We Love" for its daring, artistic vision.

Last night's screening included 12 shorts created by filmmakers from the US and abroad, in a complex yet seamless tapestry of diversified styles, voices and genres. While in "Doxology" Michael Langan humorously plays tennis, dances with cars and comments about God, Daniel Robin's "My Olympic Summer " re-examines old 8mm films of his parents as seemingly blissful newlyweds, while revisiting the international drama of the 1972 Olympic Games and the difficulties of family life. In the fun and thrilling "Yours Truly ", British animator Osbert Parker mixes animation and found footage gathered from live action films resurrecting the spirits of classic film noir to tell a story of love, greed and betrayal. In "The Green Grass of Twilight", Richie Sherman uses an upside-down time-lapse camera to move earth and sky frame by frame along a beach and inverts them creating a mysterious and disorienting space in accelerated time, where the originally solid ground at the top of the frame appears to be sliding past like a lava-stream. The incredibly amusing "Frog Jesus" by Ben Peters made everybody laugh before the sadness of "Bullet Proof Vest", a documentary in which May Lin Au Yung finds out that in Richmond, California, children neither walk to school, nor go to the park - not if they want to live past the age of 18 and records, through stark and beautiful images, the voices of a family living in a 'Tent City' to protest the violence in their neighborhood. In her "Safari", New York experimental filmmaker Catherine Chalmers startled the audience with imaginary insects and crawling creatures that realistically inhabit the earth's "smaller" ecosystems. Georg Koszulinski's abstract approach to "America in Pictures" followed more traditional experimental techniques and non-conventional film-developing and light exposure methods to create a strange but beautiful landscape without a landscape representation of his American travels from 2001 to 2007.

More laughs awaited the audience with "Crank Balls" by Los Angeles master animator Devin Bell, in which initially sad and colorless balls live in a horrible void until an infectious happiness changes their lives forever.

Water, abstract imagery and the experience of elasticity between varying states of mind are the main traits of "Number One" by Leighton Pierce, while in "Nijuman No Borei (200,000 Phantoms)", Paris based Jean Gabriel Periot takes the audience through a visual and emotional journey overlaying photos and memory around one location in Hiroshima, Japan from 1916 through 2004.

Finally in "I Met the Walrus", Canadian animator Josh Raskin tells the story of fourteen-year- old Jerry Levitan 1969 interview with John Lennon that reminds us to "Give Peace a Chance". Recorded in the same year of Lennon and Ono's activist honeymoon and Bed-ins, the interview reflects similar themes. Not much has changed since then. Wars are still happening despite the will of the people. So, let's not forget: "(Let me tell you now) Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout Revolution, Evolution, Masturbation, Flagellation, Regulation, Integrations, mediations, United Nations, congratulations All we are saying is give peace a chance All we are saying is give peace a chance..."

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©2001- Monica Gazzo. All rights reserved.