Mini film festival
by Dan Moray
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see your own video in a real movie theater, Cinema Slam is the answer. Started by Amelia Martin and now run by Keith Jefferies, the event is held every other month or so at the Michigan Theater to provide local or regional film and video makers with an outlet for their work.
A festive audience of seventy-five showed up for the February Cinema Slam. The program was about ninety minutes long, with a ten-minute intermission. Like a microcosm of a film festival, it offered a wide variety of images, narratives, and concepts from the road film Down South, in which filmmaker Rachel Milkowski proclaims, "I like my martinis dirty, and my men dirtier," to the shocking revelation in the six-minute short Grandma that little ol' Grandma is a biker chick.
Whether it's a first-time effort or the work of a seasoned filmmaker, all submitted works are shown. Expect some tired, repetitious pieces to remind you that this is not only amateur material but quite experimental as well. Jefferies helpfully prints a number of programs, in which all films to be screened are rated on a five-point scale that ranges from "Not quite there yet" to "Great."
Each slam is followed by an informal discussion at the Espresso Royale on State, where viewers can talk with filmmakers about shared interests and film techniques. "I wasn't aware of the postscreening get-together until Walt the projectionist asked if we were going to the cafe afterwards," Jefferies admits. "It's a very relaxed atmosphere in which people can share ideas and interests."
Jefferies transfers all videos to DVD for seamless projection. He badly wants to get submissions from outside the U-M community, including outlying towns like Chelsea, Whitmore Lake, and Ypsilanti. Anyone interested can contact him at 646-9364 or email@example.com. The next Cinema Slam is on Tuesday, March 23the week after the 2004 edition of the venerable Ann Arbor Film Festival.
[Originally published in March, 2004.]