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in Filmmaking
on Dec 5, 2007

If you read this blog regularly you’ve noticed we’ve been giving updates on the free speech lawsuit the Ann Arbor Film Festival has on the State of Michigan (posts: “Saving Ann Arbor” and “AAFF Update“). Today the festival announced that it has settled its federal lawsuit, filed by the ACLU on its behalf. With the state legislature repealing unconstitutional restrictions on arts funding, AAFF and the ACLU agreed to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit.

According to a statement sent out by the AAFF: “The new guidelines for arts funding, resulting from the AAFF’s lawsuit, mirror the National Endowment for the Arts guidelines, which have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. These flexible guidelines state that ‘Artistic excellence and artistic merit are the criteria by which applications will be judged, taking into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the people of this state.'”

The lawsuit was filed in March and claimed that the State of Michigan unconstitutionally punished the AAFF for screening films that the state deemed “objectionable” by withdrawing undistributed Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs program grants.

After funding was restricted, the AAFF Board voted to forego state funding (which they had received for the past 10 years) and launched its Endangered fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $75,000 by the end of January ’08 to offset the financial hardship. According to the AAFF, the campaign had already contributed half the monies needed before this announcement.

To read the Agreement to Dismiss, click here.
To learn more about AAFF’s Endangered campaign, click here.

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