Friday, March 23, 2018

An interview with Patrick Dunn on the occasion of the 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival

Gentle readers, you may know Patrick Dunn as the editor of Concentrate. What you might not know, is that Patrick is also an avid film buff and member of the Detroit Film Critics Society. Earlier this week he shared some of his thoughts about the Ann Arbor Film Festival with me.

Ben Connor Barrie: For you, what's the best part of the Film Festival?

Patrick Dunn: I guess the obvious answer should be the films, but for me it's really the opportunities for human connections. The festival is a nexus point for those who make offbeat film and those who love it. I never fail to run into numerous friends there, including those who haven't been in Ann Arbor for a while and return exclusively for the festival. And then there are the many opportunities to talk directly to filmmakers about their work. I'm the kind of person who often seeks out online interviews with a filmmaker after I see a film in order to get some more context on the work, so it's always a beautiful thing for me to be able to see a filmmaker in person right after his or her film and ask him or her questions myself. I remember when my friend Dustin interviewed the great Penelope Spheeris at AAFF after a screening of her film "The Decline of Western Civilization, Part III" a few years ago. A great conversation with an amazing woman. That's what I'm talking about.

BCB: What makes the Ann Arbor Film Fest special?

PD: The legacy, certainly. We really should be proud of how long this festival has been in town and keeping a radical spirit alive. I have only a basic familiarity with some of the festival's history, but the stories and the list of luminaries who've been involved in the festival are amazing. I also really admire the way the festival has worked to expand its reach into numerous businesses and institutions in the community, outside of the Michigan Theater.

BCB: If someone is not that big of a fan of avant garde film, should they still check out the Film Fest? Why?

PD: Definitely. Avant garde film covers such a wide spectrum that I feel comfortable applying the old cliche "there's something for everybody." Many of these films are totally digestible and interesting to the average moviegoer – see this year's "The Big House," which does use some unconventional filmmaking techniques but still presents a portrait of Michigan Stadium that will fascinate any Ann Arborite or Michigan fan. The festival has a lot to offer. Give the program a look and pick out something that sounds interesting to you. You'll probably enjoy it far more than you might think.

Gentle reader, the 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival runs through this Sunday. You should check it out.

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