Various locations, Ann Arbor; 734-995-5356;
Though film festivals such as Sundance have become virtual farm-team feeding systems for Hollywood and — to a degree — have codified "indie film" as an aesthetic, there's the contrasting example of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. As our film writer Corey Hall put it recently: "Ann Arbor maintains essentially the same vision it began with: serving as a showcase for eclectic, independent, experimental and utterly uncompromised works of art." Or as exec director Donald Harrison puts it: "Our focus is really filmmakers who are working creatively outside the commercial market." This goes back a half-century, the festival having celebrated its 50th round of screenings, installations, talks and parties earlier this month. Harrison resports that attendance for this year's festival topped 15,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, prizes and awards of cash and film stock and services put the equivalent of $22,000 into the pockets of film artists, fueling the future of their art.