Keeping It Reel

The Ann Arbor Film Festival showcases edgy cinema

The Ann Arbor Film Festival has been doing the avant-garde thing since about 1963, making it the longest-standing festival of its kind on our fair continent. Too generous to keep the cinematic riches cooped up on the Midwestern tundra, organizers send a selection of films on the road each year. This weekend, the cream of the 43rd fest will be on display at Aurora Picture Show in two programs. Saturday night's stuff was all shot on 16-millimeter film, while the Sunday afternoon screening is exclusively digital. Highlights include Errata (Saturday) by Chicago filmmaker Alexander Stewart, which consists of gradually degrading copies of a single blank sheet of paper; LifeSavors (Sunday), Shaun Williams's satirical ad for patriotic candies; and Detail(Sunday), by Tel Aviv documentarian Avi Mograbi, in which shots of a few isolated specifics -- an armored vehicle, a cloud of dust, a bleeding woman, a megaphone and an ambulance -- tell the larger story newscasts just can't give us. 8 p.m. Saturday, August 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, August 21. Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora. For tickets and information, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $5. -- Scott Faingold

Indian Summer

Have a Bolly good time at India Fest 2005

Shaun Williams's LifeSavors
Courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival
Shaun Williams's LifeSavors
Celice nibbles on her "X-Rated" garnish.
Theo Lapus
Celice nibbles on her "X-Rated" garnish.
for ages three and up
Vanessa Estrada
for ages three and up
A Monkey Could Do It
Joe Rocco
A Monkey Could Do It

SAT 8/20
Judging by India Fest 2005's schedule of events, you'd think life in India was all dancing, singing, eating and more dancing. Sounds good to us. You can get a taste of life in the world's largest democracy this weekend at the festival, which celebrates India's Independence Day. Various cultural and historical programs hosted by Mayor Bill White and other local community leaders will track India's progress since its independence from England on August 15, 1947. And, of course, expect performances from various local Indian dance and theater troupes, along with Bollywood musical act YaaDon Ki Baraat. Nosh on offerings from local restaurants and check out the arts and crafts, as well as a big, flashy fashion show. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, August 20. 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For tickets and information, call 281-855-6068 or visit www.icchouston.org. $5 to $7. -- Steven Devadanam

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Shake It, Baby

My drinking buddies and I have been having this debate for years. On an equal playing field, who has more juice: male or female bartenders? Whose tip jars will be more stuffed at the end of the night?

I'm pondering the question on a Thursday night at Six Degrees Lounge's Martini Mixoff, the brainchild of notorious promoter Kimberleigh "Queen of Clubs" Coyne. So far, there are no dudes tossing bottles Cirque du Soleil-style in the air. That's because it takes time and skill to put together a winning martini, as evidenced by Collin, who has only been bartending for two weeks at Mia Bella. His "Eight-Inch Banana" dessert martini consists of vanilla vodka, banana liqueur, Frangelica and heavy cream served in glass rimmed with a graham cracker crust. Impressive.

Then Denver, who slings sauce at the Tavern on West Gray, gets the crowd going by dancing and shakin' it while he mixes his "Sweet Goodness": Stoli strawberry, cranberry juice and pineapple juice garnished with pieces of strawberry and pineapple. "I make drinks that women like to drink," he says eloquently. Dude's my new hero.

But Slainte's LeaErin -- who, upon meeting me, realizes her right boob is in full view -- and Celice of the Ruby Room steal the show. Guys scramble to check out the beaming LeaErin and her "Uh-O," which is made with Bacardi O, Absolut Peach, Cointreau and Apple Pucker. The equally attractive Celice, who's celebrating her 24th birthday, wins it all with her "X-Rated Jenna Jameson" -- an apple, watermelon and cranberry ambrosia garnished with watermelon pieces cut into Xs. Magically, her $100 cash prize winds up sticking out of her bra.

"Dude, c'mon, how do you compete with a hot blond with a drink named after a porn star?" I ask Denver, trying to console him.

"Well," says the poetically un-PC Denver, "I think I need to get some titties." -- Steven Devadanam

Mean Toys

Kids are growing up too quickly these days. Could it be because of their toys? That's the question posed in Vanessa Estrada's 11 new paintings at Koelsch Gallery. The works depict kids with toys bearing some ominous messages. In for ages three and up, a tyke eagerly reaches out for a pistol that's sprouting dead roses. In another piece, a distraught young boy sits with building blocks that spell out "Be a Man." Yet another shows an angry young girl with clenched fists next to blocks that spell "Be Nice." "Girls aren't taught to express anger, and boys have to be tough," says Estrada. "It's about a loss of innocence." Exhibit runs through September 17. 3202 Mercer. For information, call 713-626-0715 or visit www.koelschgallery.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam

A Monkey Could Do It

SAT 8/20
Let's assume that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters would eventually produce King Lear or whatever. Would the same apply to paint tubes and, say, the Mona Lisa? We're guessing not, but Jackson Pollock might get a run for his money this week with "Pongos Helping Pongos." It's an exhibition of art by the Houston Zoo's orangutan population, with contributions from a few local artistic elephants as well. Proceeds go to the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project. Which leaves one question: Does anyone make pachyderm-size berets? 6 p.m. Saturday, August 20. New Gallery/Thom Andriola, 2627 Colquitt. For information, call 713-533-6713 or visit www.houstonzoo.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold

 
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