Ann Arbor, ACLU settle suit

Michigan agrees to NEA guidelines for funding

The Ann Arbor Film Festival and the ACLU have announced that they’ve settled their federal lawsuit against the state of Michigan.

They had charged that restrictions on state funds for the arts were unconstitutional.  In what the fest called a victory, the state has agreed to let funding guidelines mirror the more flexible NEA guidelines. 

In exchange, the fest and the ACLU have agreed to drop the lawsuit.

The state of Michigan had pulled grant funding from the long-running festival when it determined some of the films in the slate were “objectionable.” It singled out Crispin Glover’s controversial film “What Is It?” as “pornographic.”

“We are pleased that arbitrary guidelines will no longer be used to deny artists their creative rights,” said fest exec director Christen McArdle.

Documaker and Ann Arbor festival supporter Ken Burns remarked, “I am thrilled by this decision — it protects us all, even those who might be inclined to limit this great festival’s free expression.”

Ann Arbor is the oldest North American film festival showcasing independent and experimental work.  The 46th annual event will run March 25-30.

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