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One of the most competitive film festivals in the USA, the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) was named by Variety magazine in its Top Ten favorite festivals in the world, citing its strong artistic vision and championing of artists. In 2017, the festival received more than 2500 submissions from over 65 countries. The AAFF is renowned for introducing the world to pioneering work, including the early films of Kenneth Anger, Brian DePalma, Devo, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Agnes Varda, and Andy Warhol. In celebration of this momentous event Christen Lien will be releasing “The Escape” her first single from her triumphant album "ELPIS" on March 24th. A moving and spirited track, here the talented instrumentalist showcases her keen ear and much heralded arrangements. Listen HERE. In celebration of its 10th year anniversary, former executive director Christen Lien will join writer, award-winning filmmaker and author dream hampton for a conversation on the globally recognized First Amendment lawsuit of AAFF vs. State of Michigan to protect artists' freedom of speech. "Serving as Executive Director of the AAFF was a formative experience and I have always been proud of the First Amendment lawsuit that we won. In the midst of the ten-year anniversary of this lawsuit and these changing political tides, I am inspired to join forces with the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the ACLU and dream hampton to share the details, strategies and lessons of our First Amendment battle against government censorship,” said Christen Lien. “If we are to move forward with wisdom, if we are to escape the clutches of propaganda and censorship and continue to protect and uphold our First Amendment rights, we must learn from the past and discuss how the lessons we have learned can help us be better prepared, now, and for the future." “In an era when basic American freedoms are threatened, it is important to celebrate and build on past civil liberties victories,” said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, who represented the film festival in AAFF v. State of Michigan. “I’m looking forward to ‘getting the team back together’ and speaking with Christen Lien and the panel about the arts censorship case we won ten years ago.” Christen Lien is a classical contemporary fusion artist and multi-instrumentalist who creates an innovative brand of musical storytelling. She has branched out to bend the classical genre by integrating innovative technology and collaborating with artists and musicians from many mediums. Christen has performed for diplomats, Fortune 100 executives, heads of state, royalty, celebrities, and has inspired many crowds around the globe. She is an active citizen who stands up for her beliefs. dream hampton’s articles and essays have been published in more than a dozen anthologies and in The Village Voice, The Detroit News, Spin, Essence, NPR and Harper’s Bazaar. She collaborated with Shawn “Jay Z” Carter on the 2010 New York Times bestseller, “Decoded.” “We are thrilled to have Christen Lien return to the Ann Arbor Film Festival this year to revisit the important work she did as AAFF director with the support of the ACLU to defend first amendment rights. The Festival's history is uniquely intertwined with the radical political and cultural backdrop of 1960's Ann Arbor, from which it was born,” said Leslie Raymond, Executive Director. “Since that time, the AAFF has nurtured values of inclusivity and experimentation while sustaining a platform for a wide variety of storytelling voices. Now, more than ever, we seek to preserve our right to do so and are glad to join forces with Christen to champion these values.” AAFF v. State of Michigan: Ten Years Later with Christen Lien, Michael J. Steinberg and dream hampton will take place on Saturday, March 25th at 11:30am in the North Quad at the University of Michigan in Space 2435 at 105 S. State Street in Ann Arbor. For further information on Christen Lien please contact or 917 374 8020. For more information on the Ann Arbor Film Festival and for tickets, please visit:

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