The Ann Arbor Film Festival is a five night marathon, consisting of all manner of filmic expression and style. A sixth evening is taken up with a selection of the best of the lest, as chosen by a group of judges with sometimes dubious qualifications. But that's neither here nor there. The festival is great. For fourteen years it has provided an outlet lor the work oföreative filmmakers who would ofherwise have no outlet. Started by George Manupelli. who has been its director and chief guru since the very beginning, the A. A.F.F, has also been a vital forcé in bringing together these independent artists with the few distributors and thcatre owners who exhibit the so-called "underground film." The festival tour brings nine hours of highlights to colleges and museums across the country; this year it will be going to the Cannes Film Festival as well. This is a very fine thing indeed. film is an audience medium. The conálimate film artist should have a strong relationship with his or her audience. Unfortunately, there are literally loads of good films that never reach substantial audiences. I can recommend the festival films that impressed me most, but few people in this area will have the opportunity to sec them. The booking policies of most cxhibitors don't allow for such unbridled madness. Few of these films have "commercial potential." But perhaps, in describing a sampling, I can wet your appetite for a future festival. (If there is one. It seems that after fourteen years, Manupelli's leet are dragging and there is some question as to whether anyone is ca pable of filling his shoes and organizing "his" festival. A worrisome question. The films and the audience are both there. They represent the identity of the Film Festival, not George Manupelli. I don't mean to criticize him unfairly. He has maintained an oasis. in the desert for fourteen years. So teil me, why should t dry up?) Every year there are at least three or four excellent documentaries, and this year is no ception. "Lovejoy's Nuclear Wai" H is Dan Keiler and Charles Light's trait of a modern day nero. Sam Lovejoy is an organic farmer and a prime mover in the anti-nuclear power plant movement in New tngland. He knocked down a weather tower at the future site of hvin power plants that threaten to pollute the valley in which he lives. Through his action, he hoped to set back production on the nlants and brine tention to the dangerous ruse of nuclear power. The film pontains interviews with Sam, assorted experts on the dangers ol' nuclear power, and the townspeople, tor whom the plants will provide power as well as einployment. "Hurry Tomorrow" by Richard Cohén is an engrossing study of what passes fot life in a California Mental Hospital. One of the favorites this year, "Hurry Tomorrow" was awarded the seeond highest cash prize. - "Bear Creek" by Howard Bass is a beautit'ul nature documentary, capturing the sight and especially the sound of the wilderness, that, tor my taste, could be about fit'teen minutes shorter. Animation is another area in wliich the l'ilni festival really delivers. Sal ly ("ruikshank, who deI liglited the audience j three years ago with I "Fun on Mars," is back with "Quasi at the Quackadero," a romp through an amusement park amÊ forducks. "Head," a maniac piece by George Griffin, an f peccable animator, defies description. Frank and Caroline Mouris created two mastert'ul and t'renzied pixillations: "Screentest," in which the jewelry and gloves of a transvestite are magically stripped and tly off „screen, and "Coney," a fast-paced tour of Coney Island. f I lms like these, with spirit and energy and an acute sense of style, you won't see after the coming attractions and before the feature presen tation at your local theatre. A tlair t'nr humor also chaiacterizes the yearly block of non-animated films. Among the best-loved and most-eryoyed was "33 Yo Tricks" by P. White. It's justas - the title says, brought olïwitli perfeetion. Kevin Dole's "NoGo Showboat" is ihe old obscure Beach Boys tune of the same titlc wilh synchronized visuals. The cast includes the ckeerleadino squad of' suburban Chicago's New Treer High School and the overall effect is one of pure ioy. "Yin Hsien," Michael Whitney's lyric T'ai Chi film, is a perfect example of the liarmonious marriagc of eastern and western styles; it also provides an exemplary portrait of a filmmaker in touch with his subject matter. And Ililary Harris' time lapsos ot New York City, in her film "Organism," are nothing short of spcctacular. ij These and a number of the other films presented are inspiring, moving, andor fun. I-sit on the hard seats of the architecture auditorium tor extended periods of time ti sec them. But, as a student of the technique and craft of film, I'm sorry to say thai a respectable little portton of the program is bad. Unfortunately, this has been the case at every film festival, Ann Arbor and otherwise, that I have ever attended. The problem with the bad films in Ann Arbor, the ones that particularly irrítate me, is the preoccupation with technique -not to nuke a statement, put across an idea, or effect an emotionaJ response, but nierely for its owb sake. li is tliis plethota of "empty" films that makes the auditorium seats harder. Technique is very important. Soïne films are lacking m that area and are on the level of home movies. It is vital for a filmmaker to learn to use hls or her tools well. Like a musician first there is the coming to terms with the instrument and the desire to play something in particular. Beyond that isa search-and-discovery process that transforms craft into art. The A.A.F.F. is very "Art is everything, everything is art"-oriented. Everything may be art, but everything isn't good or interesting art. Filmmakers can spend a lifetime over their optica) printers, but il' they don't have a relationship with their audience, they are merely sclf-indulgent, and maybe visually interesting lor j few minutes. Ho-hum. Yawn. Film is not canvas. It moves and speaks. It's a spectacle and il 's magie. No artiele about the A.A.F. F. would be complete without a word about the one and only Fat Olesko. Kvery year she construets a series of complicated, textured costumes in whicfa she does comedy bits, backed by film and music. II her wit is sometimes lired, her coslumes are always magnificent. In closing, I would like to mention that Ann Arbor is the most efficiently organized festival ie attended. Proiection is excellent, and thev always start on time.