Ann Arbor Film Festival

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Artist: N/A

Year: 2007, 2006

Date of Action: August 2021

Region: North America

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Subject: Explicit Sexuality, Political/Economic/Social Opinion


Confronting Bodies: Michigan state officials

Description of Artwork: "The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, established in 1963. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for independent filmmakers and artists, each year's festival engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, narrative, hybrid and performance based works." [1]

The Incident: The state of Michigan withdrew critical unallocated funding to the Ann Arbor Film Festival in order to protest the festival screening films that they believed to be "objectionable," including films which featured explicit sexuality and flag desecration. In 2006, the governor of Michigan "expanded the MCACA [Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs] restrictions requiring the MCACA to withhold undistributed grant payments from those who violate the restrictions," which effectively denied funding from the MCACA to the film festival.

Results of Incident: After a lawsuit brought against the state from the Michigan chapter of the ACLU on the festival's behalf, both parties announced a settlement where the state agreed to repeal unconstitutional restrictions on arts funding, and the ACLU agreed to withdraw the lawsuit.