REVIEW: FestiFools

Festifools has established its place in Ann Arbor’s Art scene.

Minnie mouse dressed in fancy orange!

Even before the official starting time of the festival, the east side of UMMA was filled with Trucks, student artists, puppets, and fascinatingly dressed volunteers. There was a call for volunteers to gather 1 hour early before the start of the festival, and many had risen to the call. It looked almost like Halloween, but a more jolly version-I saw at least a handful of red queens, Alice, clowns, and people dressed in colorful gowns, sashes, and laces. People should definitely have more change to dress in those cool clothes. What a waste that they were stuck in the drawers throughout the whole year! I was also one of the people who volunteered to help carry the puppets. Student artists and Mark Tucker, the founder of the Festival and the instructor of the Michigan Learning Community(MLC) course at U of M where students create the puppets throughout the semester for this festival, were busy bringing the puppets to life with cable ties, bamboo poles, and iron bars. Student artists explained how they wanted the puppets to move, and some volunteers embraced themselves for the big march with drums in hand. Then the game was on!

The festival took place starting in front of State street in front of Angell Hall until the diag. The crowd was lined up on either side of the street. I was honestly surprised at how many people had shown up – there were triple lines of people on either side of the street from the starting point of the march to the end. Toddlers, children, adolescents, grown-ups, and elders all gathered to have fun, laugh at the jolly movements of puppets, and especially the youngsters had the privileges of occasional high-fives with the puppets. Although the puppets were certainly a grandeur, they were not the only thing to see at the Festival. Student organizations and local communities have come to join the fun! There were people marching while playing percussion(Groove-y!), an actual marching band, people dressed up as clowns that played tricks in the march, a cool belly-dance club dressed in red and black, and other amazing people. The march went on for about an hour. I and the person behind me who were helping the carry different parts of the puppet came to a consensus-it was a workout, but definitely a fun one.

Puppets loaded off the truck, ready to come into life!

I really enjoyed how the whole community, whether they took the role of the audience, artists from the university, or performers outside the university, came together to have a festive afternoon. The festival was truly a community event in the sense that it could not have been as festive without any of the groups. Also, I really appreciated the atmosphere of the day where a father and daughter can casually wear jocker hats, matching rainbow ties, and banana Hawaiian shirts together and take part in a festival in a local area. It’s not a scene that can be found everywhere, but something that a lot of people can benefit from having in their lives at some point. So thank you, Mark Tucker, for founding this lovely community event!

REVIEW: Disfluency

Michigan theater welcomed back alums who once worked on assignments for film classes in Ann Arbor but came back with beautiful and successful production. The Auditorium of Michigan theater was quite full of locals and friends of the production team. The audience enjoyed the live music from the film, the screening of ‘Disfluency’, and the Q&A that followed. Before we jump into the review about the movie itself, I just wanted to say that I appreciate the event because it felt as though I was glimpsing a page in the growth of people working in the production industry, how they made friends, who turned into colleagues and created something beautiful together.

Disfluency was a young, beautiful film. Its beauty was not a helpless sort – it ran with vitality through the lake of early summer, shimmering like the lake frequently shown on the screen. I had to mention ‘beautiful’ as the first word that came to my mind about the film because of the mise en scene. The way that the scenery and the characters were filmed had affection to it and the locations on camera were perfect depictions of a calm lake town and a summer that was not annoyingly humid. In the movie, Jane’s hometown had to be a place where Jane ran away from college, where she could, although she had doubts, reunite with her friends and family, digest what had happened to her, and find the courage to decide on what to do with it. The movie persuaded the audience that Jane’s hometown was a place where those things could happen with the visuals. Also, marking the scene where Jane was going through PTSD with bright fairy lights was not only visually satisfying but also clearly communicated what was going on; flashback to the past every time Jane is experiencing PTSD would have been consumed too much time and made things off focus, but short insert of lights did not hurt the flow of the story while focusing on Jane’s emotional state.

Although this movie was beautiful, its beauty was not something fragile that was there for the sake of examination. It had the horror of reality in it, but it did not let the sorrow eat up the whole story and character. Instead, it showed how a person may, even though they were not okay and stumble, manage to face the incident. I think this was possible because of the storyline. Although the storyline was emotionally sensitive, it was not too dramatic. The monologue where Jane breaks down crying in the bathroom of a police office and tells her sister about what happened, the doubts she had on what had actually happened, and on herself whether she was acting too dramatic was a great example. This was a sudden burst of emotion and information, but it was not excessive because people cope with too much stress like that in real life. We don’t build up and give out hints like in delicately structured operas. We break down at one point. Jane in the movie did, too. I also liked how the start and end of the story used the same narration and the same space but the position of Jane, first in the audience seats but later on the platform, would change in the end, symbolizing how her emotional state had changed.

For regrets, there were some scenes, especially near the start where the camera was shaking a bit, although I could not easily understand the purpose if they were done intentionally. But in all, it was a movie that I certainly don’t regret investing a weekday evening.

PREVIEW: Disfluency

A film written and directed by U of M Alum(U-M Dept of Film, Television, and Media Alum ’15), Anna Baumgarten, is coming to the Michigan theater on March 8th, 7:30 pm. ‘Disfluency'(2021, 95 minutes, drama) is about a senior, Jane, who failed her final college class and returned home and her trauma. This film won the Jury Award for Narrative Feature in Austin Film Festival 2021 and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Indiana Film Journalists Association, US 2021.

I am looking forward to this film for two reasons: first, there’s a power of seeing art that talks about Trauma and how to overcome them. The spring break just ended a while ago but I’m sure that a lot of people were feeling that they need a break, maybe a bit longer one than a week. Won’t it be nice to see a story where someone copes with their own trouble, learns, and muster the energy to fight the conflict, and use it to fights one’s own trouble? I feel like this would be a good time for me to get that sort of empowerment. Second, this was filmed in Southeastern Michigan. Yay for local production!

Finally, for all the creative people/film fans out there, this event will be even more special because the writer/director Anna Baumgarten and Producer Danny Mooney will be at the post-film discussion. Hearing from the production team is a rare and exciting chance, especially because you can not only understand the film better but also because you can get a glimpse of what it’s really like to be the person actually making the art, not bound to the audience seat which sometimes limits the scope of appreciation for the artwork.


Free tickets can be purchased from the Michigan theater website.

REVIEW: David Zinn Workshop

Photo courtesy of Viral Forest

The Ann Arbor District Library hosted local artist and University of Michigan alum David Zinn for his workshop—Drawing from Your Imagination with David Zinn—on January 5th in order to share his artistic techniques with those who attended. Although Zinn is well-known for his chalk and charcoal works on city streets and buildings, this artist used the Thursday afternoon to delve into the creative thought process of his artwork.

The workshop took place in the library’s multi-purpose room, located in the basement. I arrived five minutes past one and found myself in a room bustling with locals both young and old, all enthusiastic to hear from the artist. After they found their seats and chatter hummed down to faint whispers, Zinn introduced himself to us through light jokes and references. His words were accompanied by a slideshow of his latest street art pieces, which were certainly entertaining to look at.

One of the works that Zinn featured in his slideshow. Photo courtesy of Demilked

Zinn’s introduction eventually transitioned to demonstrations of his creative thought process. The artist first explained to his audience how blank canvases were intimidating to him, as ideas for art were limitless and therefore overwhelming. Having a canvas with a mark, however, gave Zinn a starting point for his ideas, even if that canvas happened to be a sidewalk with a line of grass. Zinn then elaborated this point by having attendees engage in drawing exercises where everyone would make a scribble, swap papers with someone else, and see what they could draw from that scribble. After everyone saw the products of this exercise, Zinn facilitated another drawing exercise where one person would draw on a folded sheet of paper and another person would complete the drawing on the other side. By viewing art that was created from canvases with a mark, everyone, including me, had a better understanding of where Zinn was coming from.

One of the drawings made from the second exercise of the workshop. The top half was drawn by me, while the bottom half was drawn by another attendee

The workshop ended ten minutes after two, with applause from attendees. I was content with what I learned from the workshop, and am considering on attending future workshops by Zinn in the Ann Arbor District Library.
If you happened to miss out on this opportunity with a local artist, be sure to check the AADL website to see when the next David Zinn workshop will be!

REVIEW: ROGUE WAVE(S) in Michigan League

New Beat Happening (NBH), a music oriented student group on campus who bring a nationally renowned band to U-Mich’s campus every winter semester, snagged Rogue Wave for this weekend’s performance in the Michigan League Ballroom. A some local talent, winner of NBH’s Battle of the Bands last fall, The Paths (formerly Rosepoem) opened for Rogue Wave last Friday night:

I was not present for The Path’s performance but had heard them in the fall at Battle of the Bands and rather enjoy their sound.

Going into this performance I was not aware of how many Rogue Wave songs I was familiar with. The band put on an energetic performance, jumping and chatting with the crowed of 250+ students. The bassist became so enthused that he fell backward on stage, continued to play and was able to stand back up with out breaking rhythm or melody. A very impressive feat.

Rogue Wave Music

Rogue Wave is coming out with a new album this summer. They were grateful to have this opportunity to perform, having not toured for at least three years.

If you are interested in bringing bands like Rogue Wave, Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco, Broken Social Scene and others to the Michigan Campus become a part of New Beat Happening!!

Rogue Wave Music