Festival History & Mission
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, founded by George Manupelli in 1963. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for independent filmmakers and artists, each year's festival engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works.
For its first four decades, the festival solely exhibited works finished on 16mm. The AAFF remains committed to the exhibition of this medium among other formats including expanded cinematic forms.
Thousands of influential filmmakers and artists have exhibited early work at the AAFF, including Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Les Blank, Matthew Buckingham, and James Benning.
In addition to exhibiting over one hundred new films in juried programs each year, the AAFF presents filmmaker retrospectives, gallery installations, panel discussions, historic and thematic surveys and contemporary artist programs.
Recent retrospectives have featured the films of Bruce Baillie, Chick Strand, Omar Amiralay, Bruce Conner, Pavel Medvedev, Matthias Müller and Toshio Matusmoto.
Artists recently presenting programs of their works at the AAFF have included Telcosystems, Duke & Battersby, Phil Solomon, Naomi Uman, Nicky Hamlyn and Wang Bing.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival receives more than 3,000 submissions annually from more than 65 countries and serves as one of a handful of Academy Award®-qualifying festivals in the United States. Our awards program presents more than $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.
The AAFF is a pioneer of the traveling film festival tour and each year presents short film programs at more than 35 cinematheques, universities, museums and artist-run centers in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The festival began publishing DVD anthologies in 2008, and has produced four DVD collections with award-winning works available for home and educational viewing. The AAFF also presents and partners on events throughout the year, which have included screenings with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).
The AAFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization sustained by the generous support of donors and members, foundations and sponsors and enthusiastic audiences. The 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place March 15 - 20, 2016.
To support bold, visionary filmmakers, advance the art form of film and new media, and engage communities with remarkable cinematic experiences.