This story came to my attention this evening via Variety's Mike Jones, who just wrote it up for Variety's fest blog, The Circuit. The Ann Arbor Film Fest, which has been around for 46 years, is facing the threat of extinction. The background: In 2006, the fest was targeted by legislators opposed to state funding of the arts and special interest groups who, claiming some of the films the fest showed in 2005 (including Crispin Glover's What is it?) were pornographic. The fest was asked by the state to follow certain guidelines in its programming in order to receive its past-due funding, and refused. In March 2007 the fest allowed the ACLU to sue the state on its behalf, citing the laws used by the state in censoring the arts as unconstitutionally harming the First Amendment rights of artists.

In order to keep the fest operating, the fest's organizers have come up with a unique grassroots plan to support it: The Endangered Campaign. They've created the handy informational video you see above to help explain why they need your help and how you can give it. To encourage your support, they've have promised to perform "Acts of Audacity" which those who donate will be able to vote on. The acts are all in fun, but promise to be at least mildly embarrassing to the fest folks performing them, and will be filmed and uploaded to YouTube for all to see. Here are the acts you get to choose from:

Option 1: Glam Rock karaoke through the streets of Ann Arbor in a yellow classic pick-up truck.

Option 2: Urban tobogganing in Detroit and Ann Arbor while dressed as giant animals.

Option 3: Recreations of famous scenes from classic movies with finger puppets.


Personally, much as I'd like to see Rope or The Seven Samurai enacted with finger puppets, the Glam Rock option seems like a winning choice, especially if they chose relevant, film-related songs for their karaoke extravaganza. "Girls on Film" might be a good choice, or Def Leppard's "Photograph," or perhaps something from the Flashdance or Footloose soundtracks. And we most definitely will want to see some serious parachute pants and mullet action going on.

Michigan's economy has been taking a beating lately, and now more than ever, they need to keep the arts alive in Ann Arbor. You can read more about the Endangered Campaign on the fest's official website.