Posted on December 05th, 2011

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AAFF Associate Director of Programs Position Opening

The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is seeking an experienced individual to join our team as the Associate Director of Programs. This is a unique opportunity to partner on the development of the AAFF’s program and artistic vision. We are most interested in a synthesis of the traditions of avant-garde cinema, video, and new media art in contemporary moving image art practice, and seek to showcase interdisciplinary artists practicing moving image art in a broadly defined arena. The Associate Director of Programs must be able to bring moving image art communities together to think about how the AAFF should represent them in its programs in the future.

The Associate Director of Programs is responsible for producing programs in support of the AAFF mission, which includes engaging our audience of regular attendees made up in great part by students and residents of Ann Arbor, Southeast Michigan and visitors worldwide, who enjoy cinematic alternatives to mainstream film. S/he will collaborate on audience outreach as well as help to define and execute principles of participatory art for the Festival audience. S/he will represent the organization as an ambassador to a broad range of constituents and participate in fundraising activities as well as support the marketing, PR and production of the Festival as needed.

Key Job Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Overall management of competition programming: oversee screening process, including screener selection and training; manage screening committee coordination; manage final selection; create program grouping, sequence and descriptions.
• Partner with Executive Director to determine special programs, juror selection, installations etc.
• Collaborate with Festival Staff to produce design graphics, catalog, website and to effectively promote the Festival.
• Collaborate with Festival Staff to create a successful Festival Week including: introduce programs; coordinate with staff to meet needs of attending filmmakers and special guests; support production and promotion of Festival, as needed; partner with Technical Director to ensure high quality exhibition.
• Support the selection and sequencing of the touring program and DVD. Solicit tour venues and institutional DVD placement. 
• Research and build relationships in the field of moving image art.  

Key Job Requirements include:
The successful candidate has demonstrated strengths in media arts programming and brings strong contacts in avant-garde cinema, video, and/or new media art in contemporary moving image art practice.

S/he is knowledgeable in both avant-garde film and screen-based new media practice, understands the history of the AAFF, and has experience with nonprofit organizations.

This individual values diversity, can synthesize a wide range of perspectives, and will add value through broad community building and excellent programming skills.

The successful candidate should possess the energy, collaborative spirit, flexibility and acumen to build on what has been achieved and assist the AAFF to grow into the next exciting phase.

= =

The AAFF is the oldest experimental film festival in North America, and an internationally recognized premiere forum for avant-garde filmmakers. We feature the work of independent artists who make short films that cross boundaries, break expectations and experiment with concepts and techniques. Our mission is to support bold, visionary filmmakers, advance the art form of film and new media, and engage communities with remarkable cinematic experiences.

Our six-day festival presents 40 different programs featuring 150 moving image artworks. Films of all lengths and genres from all over the world are programmed and include experimental, animation, documentary, narrative, and performance-based works. The AAFF draws 11,000 ticket holders from near and far to the historic Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor. The 55th AAFF will take place March 20-26, 2017.

Position open until filled.
To apply, please send your letter of interest, resume/CV, and references to

Posted on June 22nd, 2016

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Video Interview: Ernst Karel at the 54th AAFF

Check out this interview with Ernst Karel at the 54th AAFF, where he presented an installation titled “Ah humanity!”. "Ah humanity!" explores the indeterminacy of the relationship of sound and image through the juxtaposition and compatibility of four audio channels and one moving-image channel. This marks Karel's third Festival, and in this interview, he discusses his love of the AAFF and what sets it apart from other film festivals.


Posted on June 21st, 2016

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And the “Vox Populi Audience Award” Goes To…

The ballots have been sorted and counted and the people have spoken! The 54th AAFF "Vox Populi Audience Award" goes to Ben Rivers for his 2015 film There Is a Happy Land Further Away. The film, a 16mm snapshot of Rivers' travels to the remote and beautiful sub-tropical island of Vanuatu, had its first public screening at the 54th AAFF. Congratulations, Ben!

Posted on June 15th, 2016

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Tour Program Archive

Posted on June 07th, 2016

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Video Interview: Alexandra Cuesta at the 54th AAFF

Check out this interview with Alexandra Cuesta! She discusses her film Territorio, "an exploration of geography and of the people" of her native Ecuador. The film had its world premiere at the 54th Festival, and marks her third film in the AAFF. Cuesta's previous films include: Piensa En Mí, which won the Map of Time Jury Award in 2010 and Despedida (Farewell), which won the Best Cinematography Award in 2013.

Posted on June 01st, 2016

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David Dinnell

The AAFF announces the departure of Program Director David Dinnell. For six years he served as full time Program Director, Senior Programmer for one year, and provided special programming for three years prior. During that tenure, he has had an impressive trajectory and we are proud to have him as an important part of our history.

We appreciate the tremendous contributions that David has made to the AAFF. With his deep knowledge of and tireless commitment to independent and experimental film, David has established himself as a paragon of avant garde film curating. David has been instrumental in a major chapter of our 54-year-old organization, renowned for a rich legacy and tradition of celebrating film as art. For that we are grateful.

During his time with the AAFF, David was responsible for presenting retrospectives of many prominent film artists including Bruce Baillie, Penelope Spheeris, Pat O’Neill, Suzan Pitt, Tacita Dean, Wojciech Bąkowski, and many others. He represented the Festival through appearances with the AAFF touring program at venues such as Los Angeles FilmForum, Union Docs in Brooklyn, Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

He has presented special programs and juried at festivals all around the world from the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento (BIM) in Buenos Aires to ANIMATOR International Animated Film Festival in Poznań, Poland.

We thank David for his dedicated service to the Festival, our filmmakers, and the art of film. We wish him all the best in his next endeavors.

Posted on May 27th, 2016

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Video Interview: Brett Story at the 54th AAFF

Check out this interview with Brett Story at the 54th AAFF. She talks about her film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, which screened at the last Festival. "A film about prison from the places we least expect to see it."

Posted on May 25th, 2016

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Video Interview: Sky Hopinka at the 54th AAFF

Sky Hopinka was awarded the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the recent 54th AAFF for his film Jáaji Approx. Check out this video interview in which he describes his film as an "experimental documentary looking at the relationship of me, my father and the landscape."

Posted on May 09th, 2016

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Interns Make the Ann Arbor Film Festival Smooth Sailing

Many, many thanks goes out to the Ann Arbor Film Festival interns. We are grateful for the major work done by our incredible intern team, who over the past 6-months have been vital in the production of the 54th Festival. Our interns are university students and recent grads who take the time out of their busy schedule to work behind-the-scenes at the Ann Arbor Film Festival office. Each day, our interns come to the office with a smile, ready to take on any and all tasks given to them. From sponsor and community partner support to digital media production and social media marketing, our interns make a valuable contribution in all areas of Festival production. After months of hard work, our interns are able to see the fruits of their labor, Festival Week.

Development intern Kyle Stefek says: "Festival week was really exciting—I got to spend more time with the other interns and experience a really amazing Ann Arbor tradition." To Kyle, working at the Ann Arbor Film Festival was "more than another bullet point on the resume." We were also thrilled to welcome (for the second year in a row) two interns who flew all the way from partnering institution Edge Hill University, in the UK, to help during Festival week! We cannot thank our interns enough for all of their hard work, dedication and positive energy!


Picture (L to R): Todd Webb, Fahim Rahman, Haley Chynoweth, Lauren McDonough, AAFF ED Leslie Raymond, Katie Baral, Kyle Stefek (not pictured: Maria Shin, Clare Higgins, Katie Wedemyer, and Sophia Dai)

Posted on April 28th, 2016

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Memories from the 54th AAFF

We are excited to share a collection of photos from the 54th AAFF. Visit our flickr here to relive memories of the Festival and share them with your friends! 

Many thanks goes out to our amazing photographer Doug Coombe for capturing these moments!

Posted on April 18th, 2016

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Relive Expanding Frames at AAFF54

At the 54th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, we continued our “Expanding Frames” workshop and discussion series on filmmaking, film watching, and everything in between. We know these popular discussions and panels are often hard to fit in during festival week, so this year we recorded a live stream of each Expanding Frames session! If you were not able to make it to a particular discussion or panel during the week, or if you participated in an Expanding Frames talk and would like to see the documentation or share it with friends, we have links to all the recorded workshops below!

Young Women and Video-Game-Themed Films

What’s Your Day Job?

Show & Tell Forum

Video as a Medium: the Materiality of Low-Tech Video Art

What the Hell Was That?

Regional Roundtable

Please note: Each video begins streaming before the talks begin- simply fast forward a bit to get to the talks themselves. The workshops “Making Movies: Remixing Narratives” and “Shoot, Scratch n’ Stomp: Let’s Play With Film!” were not live streamed as the interactive workshop format of those events did not lend themselves to stationary camera placement filming. Every other event is available to watch through the links above. All videos were recorded with Wire Cast’s watermark, but are still easily viewable with suitable audio and video. Enjoy!

Posted on April 01st, 2016

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Award-Winners for the 54th AAFF Announced


Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival
Ears, Nose and Throat (Kevin Jerome Everson)

The Stan Brakhage Film at Wit’s End Award
The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman)

Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film
The Event (Sergei Loznitza)

Best Experimental Film
Engram of Returning (Daïchi Saïto)

Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film
The Resonance (Rezonans) (Mateusz Sadowski)

Lawrence Kasdan Award for Best Narrative Film
Edmond (Nina Gantz)

Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
Jáaji Approx. (Sky Hopinka)
Australian Paper (Minjung Kim)

Kodak Cinematic Vision Award
Fish Point (Pablo Mazzolo)
House and Universe (Antoinette Zwirchmayr)

Tios Award for Best International Film
Dead Slow Ahead (Mauro Herce)

Peter Wilde Award for Most Technically Innovative Film
(conical signal) - arc

\aut\FILM Award for Best LGBT Film
Hard as Opal (Jared Buckhiester and Dani Leventhal)

Leon Speakers Award for Best Sound Design
Irradiant Field (Laura Kraning)

The No Violence Award
Bending to Earth (Rosa Barba)

The Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Experimental Video Artist
Vague Images at the Beginning and End of the Day (Carl Elsaesser)

Prix DeVarti for Funniest Film
A Boy Needs a Friend (Steve Reinke)

George Manupelli Founder’s Spirit Award
We Chose the Milky Way (Eva Marie Rødbro)

Gil Omenn Art & Science Award
Prima Materia (Charlotte Pryce)
The Eileen Maitland Award
Baba Dana Talks To The Wolves (Ralitsa Doncheva)

Overture/Wazoo Award for Best Music Video
“Beasts in the Garden” by Spires that in the Sunset Rise (Lori Felker)

PROCAM Best Regional Filmmaker Award 

Our Last Hurrah (Terri Sarris)
How to Rust (Julia Yezbick)

Two Clothespins in an Envelope (Susanna Wallin)
Vivir Para Vivir / Live to Live (Laida Lertxundi)
Blue and Red (Zhou Tao)
Summer 1975 (Wrik Mead)

Posted on March 20th, 2016

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Enjoy this trailer for the 54th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, just 3 days away, by filmmaker Mike Olenick.

See the full program on the 54th AAFF website and purchase tickets here! Get your tickets early to avoid ticket lines and assure your seat before any program sells out! Online sales open until 3 hours before showtime. Tickets are available for purchase at the box office starting 30 minutes before showtime.

Posted on March 12th, 2016

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Spotlight on Local AAFF54 Artists

Locally based in a college town that is ranked as one of the best cities for liberals nationwide, the AAFF is nurtured by the atmosphere and the local talents in Ann Arbor and in Michigan. This year, the 54th AAFF is excited to see many local artists engaged in our program through various artistic channels—films, installations, live performances, etc. The AAFF is grateful for their contributions and also amazed by these impressive and vibrant local talents.

The Regional Films in Competition program will screen on Sunday, March 20th at 11am and features shorts from filmmakers living in Michigan and Northern Ohio. The program is guest-curated by Milwaukee-based filmmaker and programmer Ben Balcom. For detailed program information visit the website here.

Detroit-based multi-media artist and educator Scott Northrup will present an 9-channel found footage video installation titled Where The Boys Are (2015) at the Ann Arbor Art Center's Aquarium Gallery. Northrup is also featured in the fifth episode of CTN's "Let's Watch with the Ann Arbor Film Festival" series and is available to watch here. Also featured is Encore Records storefront window installation Music in Heaven and Magic on Earth (2016) by Tom Carey who will also open the 11am Saturday morning Family Friendly program with a live performance using shadow puppets and hand drawn transparencies.

Saturday’s 2pm Expanding Frames workshop, “Shoot, Scratch and Stomp: Let’s Play With Film!” will be presented by Joel Rakowski and Barbara Twist. Rakowski's film Drive In, produced in collaboration with Terri Sarris, who teaches in the University of Michigan Screen Arts & Cultures Department, will have its world premiere at the Opening Night Screening on Tuesday March 15. Twist is also a Detroit artist, and member of the AAFF Community Partner the Final Girls, a women's filmmaker collective in Detroit. Manda Moran, also a member of Final Girls, will be showing her series of animated GIFs Laser Loops (2015) at the Expanding Frames Exhibition at North Quad Space 2435.

Local talent fuels exciting expanded cinema presentations at our afterparties, where various local artists will be delivering live performances, including David Olsen (Wednesday March 16, The Ravens Club), Brandon Walley (Friday March 18, Hathaway’s Hideaway), and Simon Alexander-Adams (Saturday March 19, The Club Above the Heidelberg).

Posted on March 11th, 2016

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Grahame Weinbren Presents 78 Letters

At the AAFF, the viewers are often drawn into direct dialogue with the works. Grahame Weinbren’s audience-interactive film 78 Letters leads further into active participation. 78 Letters is the most recent iteration of his ongoing series Letters, composed of one-minute films in which the audience determines the sequencing. The program will be presented by Grahame Weinbren himself at 3:15pm, March 20, at Michigan Theater Main Auditorium.

Each of the films in Letters is associated with a letter of the alphabet. The audience selects the sequence of films by acclamation, i.e. shouting out the letter film they'd like to see next, so it is 'interactive' in a kindergarten kind of way— a parody of democracy. For the AAFF screening, there will be 78 Letters, including some that are quite personal and private, and several which will be shown for the first time. The subjects range from portraiture to still life, from musical to memorial, from landscape to kitchen, from manic to depressive. As the work progresses, themes emerge, as well as short narratives fragmented across several letters.

Grahame Weinbren is a pioneer of interactive cinema. His installations have been exhibited since 1985, including the Whitney Museum, ICA (London), the Guggenheim Museum, the Bonn Kunsthalle, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. To learn more about the filmmaker, please visit his website here.

Posted on March 11th, 2016

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Plan Your Festival: Highlights for AAFF 54

Featuring 40 programs ranging from the Saturday morning ‘Family Friendly’ screening to the LGBTQ spotlight, the Ann Arbor Film Festival has something for everyone! Films screening at this year’ s Festival come from more than 35 countries around the world including: Morocco, Thailand, UAE, India, Mexico, Germany, France, Spain, China, Japan, Argentina and the UK. Filmmakers in attendance at this year’s Festival are both native Michiganders, but also travel from as far as Colombia, the UK and Finland. The 54th will also feature a total of 55 premiers, including 22 World Premiers, 18 US Premiers and 22 North American Premiers.

Highlights of the 54th Festival include a rare first look at the newly restored works of Festival favorite, Curt McDowell. The Festival will screen fourteen feature-length films, including renowned filmmaker Jem Cohen's Counting and Lewis Klahr's 12-part feature-length anthology Sixty Six. The 54th Festival will also feature several films by Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) in commemoration for her work as an immensely influential filmmaker and artist, who contributed substantially to feminist and avant-garde cinema. Animator David OReilly, whose film Please Say Something was awarded the 48th AAFF Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film, developer of the video game Mountain, and creator of the Alien Child segment in Spike Jonze's Her (2013), will be the Penny Stamps Speaker (Thursday March 17th).

The 54th AAFF will also present a number of interactive and participatory artworks, made possible by new and old media technologies alike. Look for Grahame Weinbren's interactive cinema work 78 Letters, in which the helps determine the sequence of 1-minute clips, live in the theater (3:15pm, Sunday March 20); THETA, Flatsitter's new oculus rift virtual reality project inside of a giant inflated bubble; interactive sound and visual art sculpture sway by Fidelia Lam, involving custom modified hammocks with interactive audio/visual elements; and a very special expanded cinema presentation of Light Music (1975/1977), a work for two 16mm projectors and sound system by Lis Rhodes, at the Ann Arbor Art Center for two hours only (Friday March 18, 3-5pm).

This year’s Expanding Frames workshops and discussions, taking place at North Quad Space 2435, features DIY workshops such as the opportunity experiment with early analog video techniques as well as engaging discussions such as What the Hell was That, where viewers have the opportunity to discuss and engage with films on a deeper level.

For full program information and for tickets, please visit the AAFF website:

Posted on March 11th, 2016

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AAFF Program Fit for the Whole Family

The Saturday morning 11am screening, Films in Competition 5 (Ages 6+) is the perfect weekend activity for families. While films in this program are selected with kids six and up in mind regarding content and attention-span, they are appropriate for people of all ages!

This year there are also pre-screening and afternoon activities planned for families, both in the Michigan Theater Lobby and at North Quad Space 2435 on Saturday, March 19th. The film screening opens with a live puppet performance by local artist Tom Carey entitled Thoth in the Kaleidoscope UFO. Thoth, the dog-faced baboon god of ancient Egypt, is taken on a trip through outer space by a group of extra terrestrials. Thoth’s journey is projected live on screen using shadow puppets and hand drawn transparencies manipulated directly on an overhead projector. For a sneak peek. click here.

The program will also feature the North American premiere of Nicky Assmann and Joriss Strijbos’ Liquid Solid, the US Premiere of Sami Chan and Alexandra Swat Guild’s documentary In the Canyon and Konstantin Bronzit’s Oscar Nominated animation, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, among others. For a full list of films screening in the Family Friendly Program, visit here.

Other family-friendly activities taking place in the Michigan Theater and North Quad throughout the day include GameStart's Animation Community Creation Project in the lobby of the Michigan Theater, beginning at 10am. Kids and adults alike will have the chance to create pixel art character animations, and, with the help of GameStart School team members, bring them to life in the digital world that will be on display for everyone to see - populated and growing with your creations!! The world will fill with your unique humanoids crazy creatures, abstract art monsters - anything you make! Shoot, Scratch and Stomp: Let’s Play with Film is a free Expanding Frames workshop at North Quad Space 2435 from 2-5pm, geared towards kids 6-18 and their families. The workshop covers both traditional image-making, and hands-on image-making, where kids can shoot on Super 8mm cameras and hand-process the film in eco-friendly solution.

Image: We Can't Live without Cosmos (2014) by Konstantin Bron

Posted on March 09th, 2016

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AAFF54 Installations

There’s more to AAFF54 than film. Check out our installations in the Michigan Theater lobby and off- site at the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Aquarium Gallery, Encore Records, North Quad Space 2435, WORK Gallery and 111 S. 4th Street.

The art collective Flatsitter, from Buffalo NY, will return to the AAFF with their the newest installation THETA. Installed in the Michigan Theater Grand Foyer, viewers are invited to experience this new oculus rift virtual reality project inside of a giant inflated bubble. THETA is a Virtual Reality Experience - described as “an avant-garde guided meditation virtual reality spa experience founded on  principles of synesthesia and sensorial decadence.” THETA collaborators include Frank Napolski, John and Carlie Rickus, Volker Einsfeld, and Noah Falck. Flatsitter presented SAFE WOR(L)D at the 53rd AAFF, and we are excited to have them back again!

Ann Arbor animator Martin Thoburn's Touch Tone invites the viewer to “dial in your musical spirit through the ghost of telephony’s past.” Installed in the former Michigan Theater phone booth, viewer activation causes telephonic sonic tones resonate at the push of a button and lights dance to the pulse of the tone.

Team members from GameStart school will be on hand in the lobby to guide participants in the creation of their own pixel art characters with their Digital Animation Community Creation project.

What We Saw, a project that relies on audience participation, returns this year and will be in the Michigan Theater Screening Room Lobby. Cards are provided for you to write ‘what you saw.’ Leave them in a box in the lobby to be photographed and uploaded into a rotating slide presentation called What We Saw, an experimental remix documentary by Everybody, with daily updates to the slideshow on the Michigan Theater box office monitor and beyond.

A very special presentation of Light Music by British artist and filmmaker Lis Rhodes will take place at the Ann Arbor Art Center. In this groundbreaking work, Rhodes plays with our preconception of film by presenting the soundtrack as a series of horizontal and vertical lines that were drawn with pen and ink on the optical edge of the filmstrip. These are projected onto two opposite facing screens in a hazy room. As the films roll, they appear as an ‘optical soundtrack’. The installation is on view for a short time only, on Friday, March 18th from 3-5pm.
Ah humanity!, a collaborative installation by Ernst Karel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and Véréna Paravel reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the Anthropocene. Taking the 3/11/11 disaster of Fukushima as its point of departure, it evokes an apocalyptic vision of modernity, and our predilection for historical amnesia and futuristic flights of fancy. The video and four-channel audio piece will be at WORK Gallery from March 15-April 1.
Ernst Karel will talk about the work at a reception from 3pm until 5pm on Thursday, March 17th on location at WORK Gallery.  
Artworks viewable from the street are:

  • Scott Northrup’s 8-Channel found footage video installation, Where the Boys Are at the Aquarium Gallery, Ashley and Liberty Street
  • Tom Carey’s Music in Heaven and Magic on Earth in the Encore Records storefront window
  • Miranda Dershimer’s Presentiments in the storefront window of 111 S 4th Street.  
  • An exhibition of artworks by Manda Moran, Gary Schwartz, Jonie Wind, and Fidelia Lam at North Quad Space 2435, will be on view daily from 10am--6pm, March 15-20.

Come to the Festival this year prepared for expanded cinema experiences and the opportunity to contribute your own creative energy to the mix!


Image: THETA (2016) by Flatsitter

Posted on March 05th, 2016

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Tickets on Sale & 54th Program Available online!

Our special week of incredible film experiences is just around the corner. It is now time for you to chart a path through the geography of 40+ film programs, workshops and discussions, after parties and other special events.

Information about the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival is now online!

Visit our 54th AAFF website for full program announcement and here to purchase tickets!

Posted on February 29th, 2016

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Let’s Watch: A Marathon Event

The sixth episode of CTN's "Let's Watch with the Ann Arbor Film Festival" series is now available to watch here! This episode features an interview with Michigan resident Andrea Eis, whose films reflect her love for the Classics and Archaeology. This episode of Let’s Watch looks at Eis’s most recent film, Penelope’s Odyssey (2015). Penelope’s Odyssey contrasts the ancient landscape and sea of Greece with glimpses of contemporary domestic spaces in images that are simultaneously ordinary and vivid, detailed and generic, precise and ambiguous. Structured in short year-segments anchored by quotes from The Odyssey, Penelope's narrative is built from variations in composition, color, movement, sound and editing rhythms that signal her shifting emotions and perspectives.

CTN will also have a Let’s Watch marathon leading up to and during Festival Week! Get in the Festival spirit and refresh yourself on AAFF films and filmmakers, many of whom will be screening films at the 54th! Below is a full schedule of times and dates of the marathon! Each showing is in a three hour block.

Sunday, 2/28     12 PM
Friday, 3/4           7 PM
Saturday, 3/5       2 PM
Sunday, 3/6         8 PM
Tuesday, 3/8      11 AM
Saturday, 3/12     8 PM
Sunday, 3/13       9 PM
Thursday, 3/17  12 PM
Friday, 3/19         7 PM

You can also watch past episodes in the series online here: Episode #1 with HEIDI KUMAO, featuring Swallowed Whole (2014), Episode #2 with JACK CRONIN, featuring Rivergarden (2014), Episode #3 with CHRISTOPHER McNAMARA featuring The Use of Movement (2010), Episode #4 with DIANE CHEKLICH featuring LATE (2011) and Episode #5 with SCOTT NORTHRUP featuring ECHOES IN A SHALLOW BAY (2011)

Posted on February 29th, 2016

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A Celebration of Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman (1950 -2015) was an immensely influential filmmaker and artist whose work contributed substantially to feminist and avant-garde cinema. Three of Akerman's films will be screened during the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival. A special free screening of the 2015 documentary I Don't Belong Anywhere: The Cinema Of Chantal Akerman by Marianne Lambert, will also take place March 8th at 6pm in the Helmut Stern Auditorium at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Many thanks to our Education Partners, the University of Michigan Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women & Gender for helping promote this educational event, and to our generous sponsor the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities.

News From Home (1977)is the first of three films to be shown at the Festival, and will screen at 5pm on Wednesday, March 16th. One of Akerman's essential films from the 1970s, News From Home is an especially vibrant period in the director's life. Letters from Chantal Akerman’s mother are read over a series of elegantly composed shots of 1976 New York, where our (unseen) filmmaker and protagonist has relocated. Akerman’s unforgettable time capsule of the city is also a gorgeous meditation on urban alienation and personal and familial disconnection.

From the East (D'est) (1993) retraces a journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. It is a voyage Chantal Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc "before it was too late," reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary on the border of fiction. By filming "everything that touched me," Akerman sifts through and fixes upon sounds and images as she follows the thread of this subjective crossing. Without dialogue or commentary, From the East is a cinematographic elegy. The film will screen at 5pm on Friday, March 18th.

No Home Movie (2015) is an intimate portrait of Chantal Akerman's mother in the last years of her life. At the center of Chantal Akerman’s enormous body of work is her mother, a Holocaust survivor who married and raised a family in Brussels. In recent years, the filmmaker has explicitly depicted, in videos, books, and installation works, her mother’s life and their own intense connection to each other. No Home Movie is an extremely intimate film but also one of great formal precision and beauty, one of the rare works of art that is both personal and universal, and as much a masterpiece as her 1975 career-defining Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. No Home Movie will screen on Sunday, March 20th at 1pm.

Posted on February 28th, 2016

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LGBTQ Spotlight at the 54th AAFF

The 54th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival is pleased to announce another year of programming that includes a celebration of the LGBTQ community. This year marks our 15th annual Out Night, a program of recent documentary, experimental and narrative LGBTQ films which typically features historic and influential works. This year, the Festival will also screen films by iconic filmmakers Chantal Akerman and Curt McDowell, as well as Jared Buckhiester and Dani Leventhal's Hard as Opal.

March 17 | 9:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
Marking the 15th year of this beloved program, AAFF is excited to feature a series of LGBTQ themed works, including Zia Anger's narrative I Remember Nothing, the North American premiere of A Boy Needs a Friend by Steve Reinke, Reluctantly Queer by Akosua Adoma Owusu, and the animated film Summer 1975 by Wrik Mead. The screening will also feature Curt McDowell's newly restored seminal film Loads (1980). Stop by at the afterparty at \aut\ BAR, a restaurant and bar that prides itself in "serving the men and women of the gay community, their family and friends." Complimentary appetizers will be provided and fire pits in the courtyard make the perfect setting to mingle with friends and discuss the night's films.

We are honored to present three films by influential Belgian director Chantal Akerman who committed suicide at her home in Paris on October 5, 2015. Her latest film No Home Movie will screen on Sunday March 20 at 1pm. The film is a tribute to her mother, Natalia, a Polish immigrant and Auschwitz survivor who died in 2014. Akerman's mother is a central theme of her films, as in Letters From Home (1976), showing on Wednesday March 16 at 5pm, in which “letters from her mother are read over a series of elegantly composed shots of  New York.” The filmmaker's film D'Est (1993) will play on Friday March 18 at 5pm, and is a glimpse at life in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although a gay woman herself, Akerman's films “proudly and unabashedly” avoided labels such as “gay cinema”– “It was a normal love story…… I'm not saying it's a gay movie. If I did, then you go to it with preconceived notions.”

You can learn more about Chantal Akerman and her films  before they show at the AAFF. by attending our special screening of Marianne Lambert's documentary, I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman at University of Michgan Museum of Art on Tuesday, March 8 at 6pm.

“Curt was curt, cute, controversial, and not celibate”- George Kuchar
The AAFF is excited to feature the PREMIERE screening of newly restored 16mm films by Curt McDowell (1945-1987), a beloved favorite at the AAFF throughout the 1970s. Share this special moment with us on Thursday March 17 at 7pm, preceding the Out Night films in competition screening, which features McDowell's film Loads. McDowell's film A Visit to Indiana will show during the opening night program on Tuesday at 8:15pm. Visit
here for more details

Don't miss Jared Buckhiester and Dani Leventhal's Hard as Opal on Thursday, March 18th!  Buckhiester and Leventhal perform alongside other non-actors who are filmed in their own varying domestic and professional environments. The result is a rich accumulation of narratives held together by questions concerning the nature of objectification, loneliness, and dissociative fantasy.

Posted on February 27th, 2016

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Jem Cohen in attendance at the 54th AAFF

The AAFF is thrilled to announce Jem Cohen’s new film Counting will screen at the 54th AAFF. Cohen will be in attendance for the screening of his film on Wednesday, March 16th at 9:15pm, and will also present a special program of his short films on Friday, March 18 at 9:15pm.

In fifteen linked chapters shot in locations ranging from Moscow to New York to Istanbul, Counting merges city symphony, diary film, and personal/political essay to create a vivid portrait of contemporary life. Perhaps the most personal of Cohen's films, Counting measures street life, light and time, noting not only surveillance and overdevelopment but resistance and its phantoms as manifested in music, animals and everyday magic.

Jem Cohen on Counting
“I wanted to make a record of street life in a number of disparate cities within a limited time period, so as to measure recurrent ways in which people, animals, landscape, and politics interact within roughly the same global moment. I wanted to witness how displacement and real estate-driven destruction have become so interwoven into the fabric of urban life that they seem almost natural. I wanted to explore notions of observation vs. surveillance and to touch on the way protests spring up and seem, deceptively, to vanish. I wanted to indicate ways that music and animal life and light itself serve as antidotes, and so on. And I also wanted to make a film that by its own form questions the ways that documentary, even as it gains currency in the culture, is increasingly boxed in and expected to hew to formulas.”   (from an interview with Sarah Salovaara for Filmmaker Magazine) 

On Friday, Jem Cohen will present a special presentation of his short films including several newly completed films and works-in-progress. Other works in the program include NYC Weights and Measures (2005, 6 min), The Passage Clock: For Walter Benjamin (2010, 10 min) and Lost Book Found (1996, 37 min), one of Cohen's most acclaimed short films.  A result of over five years of Super-8 and 16mm filming on New York City streets, Lost Book Found melds documentary and narrative into a complex meditation on city life. The piece revolves around a mysterious notebook filled with obsessive listings of places, objects, and incidents. These listings serve as the key to a hidden city: a city of unconsidered geographies and layered artifacts—the relics of low-level capitalism and the debris of countless forgotten narratives. The project stems from the filmmaker's first job in New York—working as a pushcart vendor on Canal Street. As usual, Cohen shot in hundreds of locations using unobtrusive equipment and generally without any crew. Influenced by the work of Walter Benjamin, Cohen created "an archive of undirected shots and sounds, then set out to explore the boundary" between genres. During the process, Cohen said, "I found connections between the street vendor, Benjamin's 'flaneur', and my own work as an observer and collector of ephemeral street life."

Jem Cohen is a New York-based filmmaker and media artist whose works are built from his own ongoing archive of street footage, portraits, and sound. His films and installations often navigate the grey area between documentary, narrative, and experimental modes. Cohen is best known for the feature films Museum Hours (2012), Chain (2004), Instrument (1999), Benjamin Smoke (1999);  his over seventy short films from 1983 to the present; his 2015 installation We Have an Anchor; and his work with musicians such as Patti Smith, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fugazi, Vic Chesnutt, the Ex, Terry Riley, Elliott Smith, and R.E.M. among others.

Posted on February 24th, 2016

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Sixty Six: Lewis Klahr

The 54 AAFF is excited to welcome filmmaker Lewis Klahr, who will be present at the Festival for the screening of his recent film Sixty Six. Organized in 12 discrete chapters, Sixty Six (2002-2015) is a milestone achievement, the culmination of Lewis Klahr’s decades-long work in collage filmmaking. The film will screen at the 54th AAFF - 1:15pm on Sunday, March 20th in the Michigan Theater Main Auditorium.

Sixty Six is the latest, and perhaps most magisterial entry in Lewis Klahr’s open-ended digital series Prolix Satori, in which the artist mines his vast 30-year archive of collage materials. MoMA Curator Josh Siegel notes, "With its complex superimpositions of imagery and music, and its range of tones and textures at once alluringly erotic and forebodingly sinister, Sixty Six is a hypnotic dream of 1960 and 70s Pop. Elliptical tales of sunshine noir and classic Greek mythology are inhabited by comic book super heroes and characters from Portuguese foto romans who wander through midcentury modernist Los Angeles architectural photographs and landscapes from period magazines." As the historian Tom Gunning observes, “Klahr’s films generate a blend of melancholy and desire from this interplay of grasping and losing, remembering and forgetting."

Lewis Klahr, called "the reigning proponent of cut and paste" by J. Hoberman of the Village Voice, has been making films since 1977. A professor at CalArts, Klahr is known for his uniquely idiosyncratic collage films which have screened extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. In May of 2010, The Wexner Center for the Arts presented a five-program retrospective of Klahr's films. In March of 2013 the Museum of the Moving Image presented a retrospective weekend of Klahr's digital work since 2008. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is a recent addition to the Coleccion Inelcom.

Posted on February 22nd, 2016

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Ah humanity! at Work Gallery

AAFF is excited to announce that Ernst Karel will present his collaborative project Ah humanity! at the Work Gallery, 306 S State St, Ann Arbor, from March 15 - April 1. Ah humanity! was created by Karel in conjunction with Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing- Taylor.

An installation for video and four-channel audio, Ah humanity! reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the Anthropocene. Taking the 3/11/11 disaster of Fukushima as its point of departure, it evokes an apocalyptic vision of modernity, and our predilection for historical amnesia and futuristic flights of fancy. The images were shot on a telephone through a handheld telescope, at once close to and far from its subject, while the audio composition combines empty excerpts from Japanese genbaku and related film soundtracks, audio recordings from seismic laboratories, and location sound. He will present a talk about the work at the gallery at 3pm on Thursday, March 17th

Ernst Karel makes electroacoustic music and experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance. His recent projects are edited/composed using unprocessed location recordings; in performance he sometimes combines these with analog electronics to create pieces which move between the abstract and the documentary. He has done sound work on many non-fiction films including Sweetgrass, Leviathan and The Iron Ministry. Karel is also a lecturer on Anthropology at Harvard University, where he teaches a class in sonic ethnography.


Posted on February 18th, 2016

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The Lighted Field: Remembering Andrew Noren

The Lighted Field (1987) is a 59 minute, silent black & white 16mm film, and is one of the masterworks from Andrew Noren (1943–2015). The film will screen at the 54th AAFF - 7pm on Wednesday, March 16th in the Michigan Theater Screening Room.

"Noren's films were among the most visually intense and overwhelming films ever created, incorporating relentless barrages of imagery, rapid in-camera editing, incredible single-framing and time lapse photography, only pausing for the briefest of moments. Noren was a master 16mm photographer, a master of capturing motion and a master of black & white composition. Shot largely in bustling cities during the course of the artist’s daily life, Noren’s films emphasize the passing of time and—in their speed and Noren’s uncanny rendering solid forms as fragile and ephemeral—are consistently concerned with not only passing time, but the brevity of life. An amazing filmmaker with an incredible body of work, Noren’s films presented profound challenges to the art of filmmaking and expressed, in purely visual terms, an extremely complex and radical aesthetics-based philosophy that is frequently chilling and always exhilarating." - Steve Polta, SF Cinematheque


Posted on February 15th, 2016

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Expanding Frames

Participate in this forum for talking, learning and doing. Enjoy this popular free series, which will take place again this year at North Quad Space 2435, 105 South State Street.

AAFF’s educational program started a short two years ago and since then the Expanding Frames program has become recognized as an engaging forum where filmmakers, audience members and the general public can come together to learn more about experimental film. The workshops aim to nurture both community and critical thinking while fostering a deeper understanding of the work showing at the Festival. We wish to open a space for dialogue that explores the boundless possibilities around contemporary moving image culture.

DIY Workshops —Get your hands dirty and have fun with filmmaking!

  • Make your own documentary film in this hands-on workshop with Justin Schell! At Making Movies: Remixing Narratives, you’ll edit video clips and music of your choosing and tie it all together by adding your own narration track. (March 15, 4:30-6:30 pm)
  • Experience techniques of early video art with Lyn Goeringer. hands-on exploration. Video as a Medium: the Materiality of Low-Tech Video Art will help you better explain the world of historical and contemporary video art practices through hands-on exploration. (March 18, 10 am - noon)
  • Who said experimental films are only for grown-ups? Join us at our family friendly workshop Shoot, Scratch and Stomp: Let’s Play With Film! presented by Joel Rakowski and Barbara Twist. (March 19, 2:00-5:00 pm)

Not into DIY? Join the conversation with filmmakers and experimental film aficionados as they speak on their favorite topics:

  • Join us at Young Women and Experimental Video Game Themed Films: A Game Changer, a student roundtable discussion on filmmaking as women under the influence of virtual environments with Joseph Lopez. (March 15, 2:30-4:30 pm)
  • "What's Your Day Job?" panel moderated by Ted Hardin—hear panelists discuss making artwork on the fringe while holding day jobs, and artists who left an individual practice to apply their creative talents to the industry. (March 16, 10am - noon)
  • What the Hell Was That?” panel moderated by Daniel Herbert. Want to dig deeper into the films you saw? Join us for an opportunity to watch and discuss three short experimental films from this year's Festival, selected by visiting AAFF filmmakers and other special guests. (March 20, 11am - 1pm)

Posted on February 11th, 2016

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Retrospective: Curt McDowell

The AAFF is excited to feature a program of newly restored 16mm films by Curt McDowell (1945-1987), a beloved favorite at the AAFF throughout the 1970s. The retrospective will be held Thursday, March 17th at 7pm in the Michigan Theater. The program will feature Ronnie (1972), True Blue and Dreamy (1973), Stinky Butt (1974), and Wieners and Buns Musical (1972) among others and will be presented by Mark Toscano, archivist for the Academy Film Archive. McDowell's film, Loads (1980) will also be featured in the Out Night program at 9:30pm on Thursday, March 17th in the Michigan Theater and A Visit to Indiana (1970) will screen in the Opening Night program, March 15th.

Familiar to most underground filmmakers, Curt McDowell’s name was tied with mystery, novelty, and zeal. With an exceptionally bold expression of sexuality and an autobiographical perspective of narration, McDowell’s films reflected his obsession with and curiosity for exploring sexuality.

“A filmmaker, actor, visual artist, and writer, McDowell arrived in San Francisco in the mid-1960s to attend the San Francisco Art Institute in the painting department and quickly changed course to become a filmmaker to work with George Kuchar, within a period that witnessed the Summer of Love, gay liberation, and the onset of AIDS, to which he succumbed at the age of 42.  He directed over 30 films, celebrating sex as well as genre riffing and autobiographical narratives that bear the influences of Jack Smith’s lush, DIY camp aesthetic, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s explosive melodrama, and Nan Goldin’s glimpses of countercultural bohemia" (The Tenderloin Museum).

George Kuchar, American underground film director and the co-creator of Thundercrack! (1975), worked  closely with McDowell in the seventies and eighties. Kuchar described McDowell as: “Curt, cute, controversial, and not celibate. He was a barrel of laughs and a roller coaster ride to hell and back. Life for him was a fast track to fast times that included devilish detours into forbidden erogenous zones. He explored all those zones with a zealous zeal: painter, pornographer, poet of the plebeian and the perverse; you name it (or sing it since he also wrote songs) and it all rings true.” 

When McDowell passed of AIDS in 1987, he left behind his entire life’s work—including films, paintings, and scrapbooks—which first were protected under Curt McDowell Foundation and later were placed under the care of his sister, Melinda, when the Foundation no longer existed. The Academy Film Archive recently launched a program to restore Curt McDowell’s complete collection of films. Confessions, featured in the Out Night at the 53rd AAFF, was the first output of this large-scale project. We are excited to be able to show such a large collection of McDowell’s work at the 54th Festival!


Image: Loads (1980) by Curt McDowell

Posted on February 11th, 2016

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Stamps Speaker Series: David OReilly

We are thrilled to announce that AAFF filmmaker David OReilly will be the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker at AAFF 54 on Thursday, March 17th. Enjoy this free event and hear OReilly speak about his work beginning at 5:10pm at the Michigan Theater.

Irish-born and Los Angeles-based, David OReilly is one of the most adventuresome and innovative independent animation filmmakers working today. OReilly's animations include Please Say Something (awarded Best Animation at 48th AAFF), and The External World (49th AAFF).  OReilly is the creator of the acclaimed 2014 video game MountainHe directed "Alien Child", the unforgettably funny and touching faux-animated video game in Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) and was also the first guest director in Cartoon Network’s 20-year history, creating the Adventure Time episode “A Glitch Is a Glitch.” 

OReilly is resolutely independent, moving freely among television network, feature film, and music video commissions; metaphysical, otherworldly video games and interactive projects that question ideas of the self and the nature of role-playing; Tumblr games, iPhone hologram apps, and Twitter-based comic strips; and virtual reality environments. Don’t miss an incredible opportunity to hear from a renowned artist and filmmaker!



Posted on February 04th, 2016

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54th AAFF Passes on Sale!

The AAFF 54 Festival Pass is here!

The Festival Pass provides access to all screenings including the gala Opening Night Reception & Screening on Tuesday, March 15th. Avoid ticket lines and assure your seat before any program sells out!

Can't make it for the whole festival? Consider the Weekend Pass. You’ll have access to all screenings and events from Friday through Sunday including award-winners’ shows.

Passes can be picked up at will call.

Full Pass: GA- $100 / Students & Seniors - $85

Eventbrite - 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Full Pass

Weekend Pass: GA- $60 /  Students & Seniors - $50

Eventbrite - 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Weekend Pass

Posted on February 04th, 2016

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Year End Appeal Brings in Over 10K in Support!

We are so grateful to those who contributed $7610 in gifts for the Festival. The added $5000 in matching funds we received made for a nice end to 2015!

Please join AAFF donors in supporting the best in independent, artist-made and avant-garde cinema with your tax-deductible gift of $500, $250, $100, or $50. Or, sign up for an automatic monthly contribution of any amount.

Donate Now!

Your contribution will directly support the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival programs.

Many, many thanks to all of our donors!

630 Club
Judy & Alec Allen
Genie Wolfson & Bruce Baker
James Roll & Ruth Bardenstein
Frank & Gail Beaver
Kathy & Steve Bergman
Richard Berman
Joan Binkow
Nancy Brucken
Gary & Shelly Bruder
Tony Buba
Ken & Julie Burns
Susan Kalinowski and John Caldwell
Judith Calhoun
John & Patricia Carver
Katharine Jenckes & Thomas Chivens
Ellen & Hugh Cohen
Jack Cronin
Gil Omenn & Martha Darling
Susan Dise
Jackie & John Farah
Michael & Peter Feeney
Sarah Fenstermaker
Jeff Ferguson
Deborah (Koons) Garcia
Robert Goodrich
Leslie Lawther & Matthew Graff
Deborah Greer
Vicki Engel & Dan Gunning
Katrina Hagedorn
Barbara Hammer
Mark Hardin
Mary Ellen Rounsifer & Dennis Hayes
Anna Sampson & Daniel Herbert
Mike & Lesa Huget
Sharon and Jack Kalbfleisch
Michael Flynn & Heidi Kumao
Diana Bowman & Robert LaJeunesse
Mikchael & Susan Landauer
Wendy Lawson
Robert & Laurice Lazebnik
Marie Woo & Harvey Levine
Theodore Lyman
Sophie Manning
Justin Bonfiglio & Morgan McCormick
Greg Merriman & Jill McDonough
Peter & Carolyn Mertz
Michael Moore
Deanna Morse
Deb Gaydos & John Nelson
Cynthia Nicely
Mi-Jo & Kostas Pappas
Cecilia Ponce de Leon
Piotr Michaelowski & Deanna Relyea
Jennifer Conlin & Daniel Rivkin
Rick Cronn & Myrna Rugg
Jim & Krissa Rumsey
Lacie Sandstrom
Amanda Schott
Woody Sempliner
Ingrid & Clifford Sheldon
Jonny Skidmore
Ron & Robin Sober
Ellen Spiller
Helder Sun
Christine Tabaczka
The LaBour Foundation for Non-Institutional Living
Jonathan Tyman
Joseph Walters
Jim & Susan Warner
Lars Bjorn & Susan Wineberg
Michael Woodruff
Leon Wyszewianski

Posted on February 01st, 2016

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AAFF Accreditation

Posted on January 28th, 2016

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An Interview with Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown

Watch this short interview with Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown, who discuss their film Speculation Nation, which won the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary. Narrated in first-person, the film presents their documented perspective on the aftermath of Spain’s housing crisis.

Posted on January 26th, 2016

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54th AAFF Flight Information

Posted on January 21st, 2016

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Volunteer Form Part 2

Posted on January 20th, 2016

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Volunteer Form Part 2

Posted on January 20th, 2016

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For Your Enjoyment: Let’s Watch Episodes 3 and 4

Episodes 3 and 4 of CTN’s Let’s Watch series are now available for viewing! Grab your friends, sit back and enjoy interviews with AAFF filmmakers Chris McNamara and Diane Cheklich.

Episode #3 features Chris McNamara, longtime filmmaker and past AAFF board member. McNamara played a crucial part in the evolution of the Festival, helping to open the Festival from purely 16mm film to embrace video and digital media as well. Chris first showed in the AAFF in 1986 with his film Tattoo in AAFF 24, and more recently The Use of Movement played in AAFF 48. McNamara describes the Festival as “a real jewel in the crown of the city that people should take advantage of it.” In this episode, McNamara’s passion for film shines through a discussion of both his involvement with the Festival and his past works. 

Detroit based independent screenwriter, film director and producer Diane Cheklich is featured in Episode #4. Cheklich’s film, LATE, won the Detroit Film Center Award at AAFF 42. LATE juxtaposes the audio of an evangelical radio call-in show against lonely neon "vacancy" and lotto signs in dark, late-night, inner-city America. Cheklich views the AAFF as a “special gem,” as it is “a prestigious Festival in her home state.”

If you missed past episodes, watch with Heidi Kumao, episode #1: “LET’S WATCH WITH HEIDI KUMAO” featuring Swallowed Whole (2014) and episode #2: “LET’S WATCH WIITH JACK CRONIN” featuring Rivergarden (2013).

Stay tuned for episode #4: ”LET’S WATCH WITH SCOTT NORTHRUP."

Posted on January 19th, 2016

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54th AAFF Jurors Announced

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is proud to announce the three esteemed jurors for the 54th AAFF. Rebecca Baron, Carl Bogner, and Garbiñe Ortega will attend throughout the week viewing more than 120 films in competition and awarding more than $20,000 in cash and in-kind awards. In addition, each juror will present a specially curated program of work during the festival.

Garbiñe Ortega, originally from the Basque Country, Spain, is a film curator based in Mexico City. Her curatorial projects have been programmed internationally at Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco Cinematheque, La Casa Encendida (Madrid) and Pacific Film Archive among others. She has worked at Centro de Cultura Digital and is the former co-director of programming of the Ambulante Documentary Film Festival in Mexico.

For the past 18 years, Carl Bogner has been the Director of the Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival. He is a senior lecturer in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Film Department where he programs film, coordinates a visiting artist series and teaches experimental media and experimental writing/criticism.

Rebecca Baron is a Los Angeles-based media artist. Her work has screened widely at international film festivals, media venues, and museums including documenta 12, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty Film Seminar, Viennale and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others. Baron's films have won many Ann Arbor Film Festival awards over the years, beginning with the 35th AAFF; and most recently at the 53rd AAFF, where she was awarded "Best Experimental Film.”


Image: The Idea of North (1995) by Rebecca Baron

Posted on January 14th, 2016

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AAFF Operations Manager Position Opening


Founded in 1963, the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) became a non-profit in 1980. The mission of our organization is to support bold, visionary filmmakers, advance the art form of film and new media, and engage communities with remarkable cinematic experiences.

The AAFF is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, and is internationally recognized as a premiere forum for avant-garde filmmakers. We prominently feature the work of independent artists making short films, crossing boundaries, breaking expectations and experimenting with concepts and techniques. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 200 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works.

This member of the Festival team plans, directs and coordinates the functional area of operations and manages administrative activities. Self-motivated and self-starting, the Operations Manager improves productivity and efficiency of Festival systems and processes. Duties include supervising contract workers and interns, the Operations Manager is expected to both provide direction and take direction. Works closely with Executive Director and staff to cooperatively support and improve the Festival.

• Administrative Responsibilities - Manage day to day office activities; order festival merchandise, manage all sales
• Operational Responsibilities - Manage festival projects including production of DVD and implementation of touring program; manage call for entries and submissions, coordinate screening process, manage AAFF website
• Financial - Organize financial information for weekly CPA sessions; assist in tracking and management of payables and receivables; participate in oversight of budget
• Human Resources - Work with ED to hire, train and supervise student interns; manage seasonal employees
• Communication - Support internal and external communications; assist ED with donor and membership correspondence and follow-up; compose and contribute to AAFF Newsletter and other marketing initiatives
• Data Management - Manage all Festival data including design and update of databases; supervise submission data base entry; manage data migration to annual festival website; prepare bulk mailings for donors, filmmakers, members, etc.

• Proven working experience as operations manager
• Adequate knowledge of organizational effectiveness and operations management
• Budget development and oversight experience
• Basic IT skills (databases, MS Office etc)
• Exceptional written, oral, and interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively interface with  management, staff, volunteers and AAFF Board.
• Leadership and organizational skills
• Self reliant, good problem solver, results oriented
• Energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive; a team leader who can positively and productively impact both strategic and tactical operations and administrative initiatives.
• Experience with File Maker Pro, Google Docs, Powerpoint, Open Office a plus
• Bachelor's degree in related field or 3 to 5 years relevant work experience.

Ann Arbor Film Festival provides equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. In addition.  We will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.

To apply send resume and letter of interest to
Position open until filled; start date is March 1, 2016.

Posted on January 12th, 2016

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Volunteers and Host Families Needed

Interested in volunteering for the 54 AAFF? Let us know now! We are seeking dedicated volunteers with availability in March, especially Festival week: March 15th – 20th. Please email a brief description of your interests, skills and March availability to Lizzie Olenzek at

Did you know the AAFF provides housing for all our visiting filmmakers and special guests? We’re able to offer this through the generous hospitality of Ann Arborites who have a guest room within walking distance to the Michigan Theater. (Thank you, all past Festival host families!) Festival hosts receive a pass and have the opportunity to make a lasting connection with our visiting filmmakers. If interested, please e-mail Vanessa Thoburn at

Posted on January 12th, 2016

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Flight Information

Posted on January 07th, 2016

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Jesse McLean at AAFF 53

This just in: Watch an interview with artist and filmmaker Jesse McLean, recorded at the AAFF 53, where Jesse was a member of the Awards Jury. She shares some thoughts about the Festival and describes her most recent film, I'm in Pittsburgh and It's Raining. 

As a media artist and educator, Jesse McLean is motivated by a deep curiosity about human behavior and relationships, especially as presented and observed through mediated images. Interested both in the power and the failure of the mediated experience to bring us together, McLean's work asks the viewer to walk the line between voyeur and participant. Enjoy the interview! 

Posted on December 11th, 2015

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“Let’s Watch” with Jack Cronin

The second episode of Community Television Network's "Let's Watch with the Ann Arbor Film Festival" is airing this month on Channel 18 in Ann Arbor and online here. This episode features an interview with Ann Arbor-based filmmaker Jack Cronin. Jack has shown four of his films at the Ann Arbor Film Festival since 2004. He discusses his most recent film, Rivergarden, which played at the 52nd AAFF in 2014 and is presented in this episode in its entirety.

Posted on December 09th, 2015

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54th AAFF Acceptance Materials

Posted on November 25th, 2015

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AAFF is on PhillyCam

Films from the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be broadcast on PhillyCAM, the City of Philadelphia’s designated public access television station. The 60-minute program will be broadcast weekly for two months beginning this winter.

The program will feature short films from recent editions of the AAFF, including: Many Thousands Gone (53rd AAFF) by Ephraim Asili, The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke (50th AAFF) by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva and Broken New: Disaster (51st AAFF) by Lori Felker, among others.

PhillyCAM is a community media center that brings together the people of Philadelphia to make and share media that promotes creative expression, democratic values and civic participation


Image: The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke (2012) by Jillian Mayer & Lucas Leyva

Posted on November 24th, 2015

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Stocking Stuffers for Film Lovers

AAFF DVD Volumes 1-8 are now available as a discounted set, just in time for the holidays!  The set features award-winning and select short films from the past eight Festivals, including work by Leighton Pierce, Adele Horne, Duke & Battersby, Helen Hill, Ben Russell, Mark Toscano, Wojciech Bąkowski, and Réka Bucsi.

Until December 31st, purchase all eight for $88. Reduced pricing on educational licensing for the collection is also available during this limited time, if interested contact

Each sale of an AAFF DVD provides income for participating filmmakers, furthering the Ann Arbor Film Festival's mission to help support talented film and video artists. All films were licensed for these collections and all filmmakers maintain full copyright of their work.

Visit the AAFF Store to purchase the collection at this special price!

Posted on November 19th, 2015

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Keep the Films Rolling with a Monthly Gift

We are deeply grateful to the many AAFF donors who contribute to the success of our community backed, world-renowned avant-garde film festival, where originality, creativity, innovation and artistic expression are number one. We thank you for supporting our success of the 53rd AAFF last March, which brought in a record audience of 11,000 ticket holders!

We now ask our supporters to consider monthly giving.

When you go to our contribute page, you can click on the PayPal link and make a gift online. Simply click on the button next to the amount box that says "Make this monthly."

We’ll give you a coveted AAFF bumper sticker and DVD for your recurring gift of $10 a month or more!

Posted on November 17th, 2015

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Finally Something Good on TV

We are excited to announce the launch of a cable television series by new AAFF Media Partner Community Television Network of Ann Arbor. “Let’s Watch With the Ann Arbor Film Festival,” produced by Dana Denha, focuses on filmmakers who have shown in the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Each episode features an interview with a different filmmaker along with their work. The first video in the series, which can be found here, spotlights media artist Heidi Kumao, who teaches at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Kumao's film, Swallowed Whole, was featured in the 53rd AAFF. The film poetically depicts extreme isolation and physical limitations as a result of a traumatic injury the filmmaker sustained while sledding. The film has shown and been awarded at film festivals all over the world.

Posted on November 04th, 2015

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AAFF Executive Director Visits New Orleans Film Festival

AAFF Executive Director Leslie Raymond attended the 26th annual New Orleans Film Festival as a member of the jury. Raymond, along with multidisciplinary artist Jane Cassidy, whose exhibition “Fits of Easy Reflexion” was installed at the 53rd AAFF last year and Netherlands-based artist and video-art curator Joris Lindhout, juried the NOFF experimental shorts selections.

Several films in consideration were part of the recent 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival, including Many Thousands Gone by Ephraim Asili (recipient of the 53rd AAFF Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker), Inkjet 3056A by Karissa Hahn, and The Peacock by Andrew Kim (recipient of a 53rd AAFF Jury Award).

The 26th NOFF Award for Best Experimental Short went to Ted Kennedy for his film Something About Which Nothing Can Be Said. Kennedy’s film has also won a Jury Award at the 2015 Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, was included in the Iowa City Docs Festival, and Brooklyn Film Festival, and played last week at the Antimatter Festival in Victoria BC.

photo -  (L to R): NOFF Associate Programmer Danielle Calle and filmmakers Tyler Betschart, Karissa Hahn, Josh Lewis, MM Serra, Betsey Brown at the Experimental Shorts post-screening Q&A

Posted on October 27th, 2015

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Els van Riel on image-making and Gradual Speed

Interview with Els Van Riel undertaken by James Snazell via e-mail during June-August 2015 with images provided by Els Van Riel.

JS: How important was it for you to have your work screened at the 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival and can you describe your experience of being at the festival that year?

EVR: Having Gradual Speed screened at AAFF 2014 went beyond any dream. It was a great pleasure to go to the (by then) 52nd film festival which I found a most inspiring and encouraging event for contemporary filmmakers. I never expected that Gradual Speed would be selected to be part of the festival, and then to top that with receiving an award was all one wonderful surprise.

I'm not at all a professional film festival-goer. In Belgium we have the Courtisane Festival in Gent, where I worked on a number of occasions as a projectionist and also more recently, the Brussels Cinematek is organizing the ‘L'Age D'Or’ again after having a break, both festivals are for art cinema and I try and attend them as much as possible.

When making Gradual Speed I never really thought about how to give it a future in terms of it being screened. This work was launched as a very personal research, with the starting point for it being the empty white screen on which to project a different way of looking, and a wish to explore tiny bits of the world in a focused, slow, deep-digging way. This approach was done at the same time as looking to honor our slowly vanishing analog, silver print 16mm-filmmaking world in the now primarily digital image world.

JS: I get the sense that Gradual Speed marked a change from a lot of your previous work by way of the fact that it is a piece for single screen as opposed to being installation based. In what ways does screening your work at a film festival differ from presenting your work in a gallery context?

EVR: May I, rather than focus on the concept of the film festival, look to focus on the distinction between a cinema space and a gallery space? I assume most film festivals still happen in good old cinema theaters, right?

A gallery mostly shows more than one work at the same time. The visitor decides on staying with one piece according to his own time schedule, and will be continuously distorted or attracted by any nearby exposed work. Also very often daylight or artificial light keeps all-round attention awake and open for spatial and thus also for actual time perception.

A cinema visitor walks into a dark theater, sits down safely in front of the empty white screen, waits for the lights to be turned off, and then sits through the commercials, (in our former Arenberg Cinema Theater in Brussels, we even had majestic blue curtains closing after the commercials, a gentle music playing during a short pause, and then the opening of the curtains again for the actual film to start. I miss this.)

This environment and its rituals play an important role in the cinema experience. One’s expectation gets time to warm up, and therefore is allowed to add a lot of weight to the whole experience with all eyes focused on the one spot, the white screen. What more suspense do we need? 'IT' is going to start! Scary! Exciting!

I very much love this initial moment before the start of a film, often more than the actual film screened.
Gradual Speed is based on this moment of 100% expectation. This is also why the soundtrack is based on the optical crackly sound of the film-leader - the sound that precedes the created soundtrack. Because of this expectation, filling up the white screen for a certain amount of time and asking for the full attention of a group of people at the same time carries a major responsibility.

Gradual Speed is my very first standalone film, albeit that the soundtrack was made in collaboration with composer Chiyoko Szlavnics; work previous to this was invariably made to accompany music, composed and improvised, so that responsibility for the work becomes shared. I’ve also done a lot of installations that have been created to be seen in a space, as part of an exhibition with a curated concept, very often amongst and inevitably in relation to other works in the exhibition. Even if I were to build a cinema room in a gallery, the work beside it would bear an influence upon it.

A cinema space makes time for a film work to stand naked, fragile, solely on its own its soul exposed. A gallery space wraps and covers up work by its own context (or the one of the curator.)

JS: For those who aren’t familiar with the work Gradual Speed could you say something about the production and the importance of how some of the processes involved in the production stage come to influence the final output of the film itself.

EVR: From the beginning of the project I had the idea that speeding up a camera's motor while filming would give exciting results. With not only the image receiving time to appear slowly, but also the speed of the filmed movements would change gradually.

The addition of this technical idea alongside the idea to start off with the expectation of the white screen was the initial point of departure. This materialized into the work being a complete white blank out at 2 images a second and then a very slow speeding up of the camera to 24 fps all done in full B&W photography showing the beauty of 16mm film growing into a piece that enables a tribute to the slowly vanishing techniques of celluloid filmmaking.

During the process, I chose images according to the whites and blacks that I was looking for, I filmed many, cut out almost as many, left in some chosen ones and worked to the point where I needed to control and manipulate the gradual changes of some recordings slightly more. The professional film lab couldn't do it without a large amount of money. So I went to our artist run film lab in Brussels, LABO BxL and worked a few months in the darkroom printing negatives while changing the bulb's voltage, doing tests, redoing takes, having internegatives made, redoing them again. Until in the end, when editing, I was able to play with both handmade prints and the original takes by repeating the same images in different printing qualities, and working with the different textures. Only at the very end the different images found their place in a certain narrative order, and a rhythm developed. The deadline for the work was for the Courtisane Film Festival, 2013.

JS: How long did Gradual Speed take to develop? Was it a work that slowly developed over a long period of time and was it a work that developed organically or was there a definite starting point where you said yes I want to make a film in the following way.

EVR: The first tests and initial filming were done in the summer of 2009. It took me more than 3 years to get to the finish. I must say that the financial part ate a big chunk of time as well.

I started with a vague wish and some technical experiments. The experiments lead me from one to the other. One image started asking for a certain next one. Though the images shouldn't form sequences or scenes to lead to any possible interpretation but their own, I wanted the images slowly narrating themselves in order to celebrate the miracle of film making-and watching.

In the final editing it felt as if the images found their proper place in the rhythm themselves. At the end I tend to believe that the initial idea maybe did get lost in the process, but found itself back only in the finished work, as if the working process made a circle. For sure the DIY Labo work was not foreseen in the beginning, but it became a necessity as part of the work, and I'm very happy that it got me there.

JS: You have been based in Brussels for many years and have worked particularly with 16mm film. How has your practice developed whilst being in Brussels? Would you say you have developed your work in isolation or has it developed through a sense of some kind of filmmaking community, and by this I mean a sense of a network of galleries, cinemas and exhibition spaces? For instance, I know you have spent much time at LABO which can be described as an artist/filmmaker-run space/laboratory dedicated to film processing and research. How important is such a place in terms of being able not only to experiment but also to be somewhere where sharing of knowledge and exchange of practices and know-how occurs?

EVR: I finished a technical course at a photo and film school at the end of the eighties here in Brussels. I never went to any art school because I never felt good enough; I probably wasn’t good enough. But in that film school I learned how to work with 16mm film, next to video (U-matic in those days). I love photography equipment, I prefer working with chemical and mechanical equipment that I completely understand, rather than with computers whose digital programming language is not mine.

I believe, as a kid, I first held a photo camera in my hands because I liked pushing buttons, as any kid does, and the click sound of the mirror clapping up. Only much later I slowly started exploring how to make interesting images. This exploration has never stopped. It keeps on being a real problem to me, how to make interesting images always to be solved in my next attempt.

I worked as a photographer and video maker for different local artists and documentary-makers. I have and continue to improvise on new contemporary music with video-equipment, and made one video-installation The Remarkable Absent, based on what video came to be for me when dv-tapes appeared. I continue to make film installations, and have now almost twenty 16mm-projectors as well as fifteen loopers to hand that I had originally made for an installation Moving Portrait. All this 16mm film-equipment I rent out, and as part of this I often help organizations and artist filmmakers with what they are doing in Brussels and Belgium, some of whom are my friends. I think I can say now that I'm embedded in the Belgian filmmaking and artist community, or at least in a small part of it.

Before Gradual Speed my own practice happened in isolation. I have worked for a long time with a professional lab, Dejonghe Postproduction, and developed bits and pieces in different basements here and there, and shown work here and there.

I have known the people at LABO BxL for the last 20 years; we exchange equipment, meet at exhibitions and film houses, and since Gradual Speed, I've become an active member of the collective. We share knowledge and equipment, have started organizing workshops, and we look to keep celluloid filmmaking alive. Young film students and artists find their way into the collective. The challenge now is to keep personal and common work in balance with the danger being that not only space but also time gets consumed very easily into community practices.

JS: What work are you doing at the moment? Has the work you are doing now progressed or moved on from Gradual Speed? Perhaps there are certain things you explored in Gradual Speed that you have looked to explore further.

EVR: I am preparing a film based on the science of light, its physical necessity and at the same time the science's poetry. I don't know at this point where it will end up.

I guess my work keeps on exploring the basic elements of filmmaking, as Gradual Speed did, including an empty white screen, time, light, shadows, a bit of chemistry and mechanics, and how to make strong images with them. Or how to make moving images strong enough to help us grasp anything about anything and everything, and keep our eyes and minds (or mind's eye) open.

Posted on September 29th, 2015

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Le Révélateur at the 53rd AAFF: interview w/ Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig

Watch an interview with Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig who perform as Le Révélatuer, recorded at the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival on March 28 , 2015.

Sabrina Ratté is a visual artist and Roger Tellier-Craig is a musician and composer, both based in Montreal. They presented a live audio-visual performance using an array of digital and analogue technologies at the 53rd AAFF.

Posted on September 23rd, 2015

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Hail and Farewell, Departing AAFF Board Members

The Ann Arbor Film Festival sincerely thanks our retiring board members Bruce Baker and Wendy Lawson for their years of service as they conclude their participation on the AAFF Board of Directors.

Bruce, CEO of Radius Garden Tools, chaired the AAFF board from 2008 - 2014. He worked tirelessly to share the best in avant-garde film with the Ann Arbor community and beyond. Having sustained the board and organization through several executive directors (including a year without one), the Festival has made great strides as a result of his steady and strong leadership. Bruce had served on the board for two other periods during the 1990s and 2000s.

Wendy, currently Vice President of Advancement for Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, played a crucial role in our organization’s evolution. She generously contributed her expertise in major gift work and board development. As chair of both the development and nominating committees, she powered the board’s fundraising capacity with great optimism and charisma.

Both Wendy and Bruce remain committed to the Festival through continued service on the Development and Screening committees, respectively.

We wish them both the best in their post-festival board endeavors!

Posted on September 11th, 2015

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Edge Hill University Interns at AAFF

AAFF Key Sponsor and UK University of the Year, Edge Hill University, which has shown the AAFF touring program for the past several years, sent the Festival two wonderful interns to support our production of the 53rd in March 2015.

Creative Writing and Film Studies majors Philip Donnelly and Harriet Hirshman travelled overseas to Ann Arbor from Ormskirk, Lancashire to join our intern crew. They arrived about a week before and stayed through Festival week at Ann Arbor Inter-Cooperative Council student housing co-op Truth House.

The students helped out in a variety of ways including delivering tickets, ringing up senators, assembling filmmaker packets, documenting workshops, helping to set up art displays, and even becoming part of an artwork through assisting Flatsitter in its oculus rift performance.

Here is a poem sent to us by Philip, which he included in his final Creative Writing portfolio. It was inspired by the AAFF and the Michigan Theater.



Reel after reel
the scratched film
flickers through 28 sparks
and 53 years of people rolling down
the majestic staircase.
Rows of chairs soak up
the darkness until
snaps of light foams the
red velvet into

Opening night. People take
to their numbered seats in no particular
order. Glacial whiskeys in the hands of well
spoken women who curve their lips around
the word 'fuck' with delight. Thoughts of George
are fond. Spliced and cut with elegant
cinnamon dresses against grainy footage of sex
and parrots.

Vomit out the aisles and spill
into the lobby amongst the salty aroma
of burnt pine and acid tongues burning
holes into subtext.

Philip Donnelly
Spring 2015

Posted on September 02nd, 2015

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UM Bentley Historic Library Welcomes George Manupelli’s Papers

Several large folios, binders and various other papers belonging to AAFF founding director George Manupelli have recently been deposited to the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library. A new archive dedicated to the recently deceased artist and educator will be housed alongside the Ann Arbor Film Festival archive as well as the Jay Cassidy archive, expanding the library’s holdings of AAFF-related records.

The folios were prepared by Manupelli himself and contain photographs and newspaper clippings about his career as an artist as well about the Ann Arbor Film Festival. There are also color photocopies of Manupelli’s 2D collages, his original AAFF ticket design layouts, handwritten song lyrics, and correspondence from the late composer and ONCE Group member Robert Ashley. This series of letters was printed in 48-point type to accommodate Manupelli’s failing eyesight from Macular Degeneration, and documents the process of securing a home for Manupelli’s film archive, which includes his Dr. Chicago series, at the Anthology Film Archive in New York.

Posted on August 27th, 2015

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53rd AAFF DVD Coming Soon!

The eighth compilation of films from the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be available in September.

Volume 8 will feature award-winning and select films from the 53rd AAFF. Films include Scrapbook by Mike Hoolboom (AAFF Audience Award and Pat O'Neill Perseverance Furthers Award), Many Thousands Gone by Ephraim Asili (Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker), Blue Loop, July by Mike Gibisser (Best Cinematography Award), The Bigger Picture by Daisy Jacobs (Chris Frayne Best Animated Film Award), Wolkenschatten by Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy, and Ziegler by Terri Sarris and Frank Pahl, among others. The first 250 DVDs come in a handsome screen-printed matteboard case, printed by VGKids.

Image: Wolkenschatten (2014) by Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy

Posted on August 17th, 2015

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Interviews with AAFF Makers on the AADL website

The Ann Arbor District Library, a cherished Community Partner of the AAFF, has recently added two new AAFF filmmaker interviews to its online archive. Recently edited discussions with Ben Popp and Gina Kamentsky from the 50th AAFF can be found here on the AADL website.

Also check out the video interview with David Sherman along with podcasts by Donald Harrison interviewing other former AAFF directors Vicki Honeyman, Chrisstina Hamilton, and George Manupelli.

While you’re at it, be sure to explore the AADL online archive of Ann Arbor Film Festival history. You can browse past programs and photographs or search the site for programs, flyers and posters, as well as read historical newspaper articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun. You can also find several films that have screened at the AAFF.

Stay tuned for more AAFF filmmaker interviews!

Posted on August 11th, 2015

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AAFF Makes Cameo Appearence at the Traverse City Film Festival

If you’re in Traverse City, heading there for the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF), or want a reason to get away to Northern Michigan, plan on seeing “Shorts From the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival” at the 11th annual TCFF. The 98-minute program of AAFF short films screens twice during the week at Dutmers Theater at the Desnos Museum Center at 9pm Wednesday July 29, and 1pm Saturday August 1.

The Traverse City Film Festival was founded by Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore. Moore makes his home in Traverse City, a.k.a. the Cherry Capital of the World, located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula in the resort region on Grand Traverse Bay.

Speculation Nation by Bill Brown & Sabine Gruffat, winner of the 53rd AAFF Michael Moore Best Documentary Film Award, will also show at TCFF this year. This feature- length film follows the filmmakers’ expedition in Spain after the 2007 global financial crisis, and documents citizens inspired by Occupy Wall Street, mobilizing, collectivizing, and fighting for their right for a decent place to live.

Showtimes are 9pm Friday July 31, and 12pm Sunday August 2 at Dutmers Theater at the Desnos Museum Center.

Posted on July 23rd, 2015

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Check out our 53rd AAFF Tour Trailer!

Check out this new 53rd AAFF Tour trailer created by Jeff Economy, who has directed, produced, shot and edited many music videos, feature length documentaries, and documentary/reality tv shows. With collaborator Carlyn Faber, Jeff presented an improvised film performance at the 42nd AAFF.

The 53rd AAFF Tour will visit galleries, art house theaters, universities, media arts centers and cinémathèques throughout the world from nowJuly through February 2016. The tour includes award-winning and select documentary, experimental, animated and narrative films from the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival. Thirty films from Brazil, Hungary, Austria, the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the US are presented in one 16mm and two digital programs. The AAFF annual traveling tour has been around since the second year of the festival in 1964.

View the full line-up HERE!

Look for the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival tour at a theater near you, or email us at to make a booking.

Posted on July 16th, 2015

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AAFF at ANIMATOR Festival in Poland

AAFF Program Director David Dinnell will be at the eighth annual ANIMATOR International Animated Film Festival in Poznań, Poland July 10 - 16.

Dinnell will attend as a member of the international competition jury and will present a program of films featuring both recent and historic works drawing upon Ann Arbor's five decade exhibition history. The program will include films by Robert Breer, Janie Geiser, Chick Strand, Robert Todd, Julie Murray, Joseph Bernard, Simon Payne, Hiroshi Yamazaki, James Sansing, Laura Heit, Charlotte Pryce, Bart Vegter, and Naoko Tasaka.

ANIMATOR is Poland’s biggest event dedicated to animated films. Each edition features more than 500 films from all over the world and includes a competition, retrospectives, thematic screenings, premieres, screening with live music and presenting work of the pioneers of animation.

Posted on July 09th, 2015

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The 54th AAFF Call for Entries will open July 1st!

Come one, come all!  The 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival will officially welcome entries beginning next Wednesday, July 1st!

Filmmakers may submit their work through our website at starting at 12am. 

The 54th AAFF will take place March 15–20, 2016 at The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI.

Deadlines and Entry Fees:

Early Deadline: Aug 1, 2015 - $30 Shorts / $40 Features

Official Deadline: Sept 18, 2015 - $45 Shorts / $55 Features

Late Deadline: Oct 10, 2015 - $60 Shorts / $70 Features

The AAFF provides at least $21,000 in cash and film stock/services to more than 20 filmmakers, serves as a qualifying festival for Academy Award® nomination in the short film category and provides touring opportunities for select filmmakers.

To see a list of award winners from the 53rd AAFF please click here.

Posted on June 30th, 2015

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53rd AAFF World Tour Launches This July

The 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour will visit galleries, art house theaters, universities, media arts centers and cinémathèques throughout the world from July through February 2016. The tour includes award-winning and select documentary, experimental, animated and narrative films from the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival. The AAFF has had an annual traveling tour since the second edition of the festival in 1964. 30 films from Brazil, Hungary, Austria, the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the US are presented in one 16MM and two digital programs.

View the full line-up HERE!

Posted on June 18th, 2015

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53rd Tour Program

Posted on June 18th, 2015

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53rd Tour Program

Posted on June 18th, 2015

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52 Tour Schedule

Posted on June 18th, 2015

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52nd Tour Schedule

Posted on June 18th, 2015

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Jessica Bardsley at the 52nd AAFF

Filmmaker Jessica Bardsley, who has shown her work at the AAFF over the past several years, is featured in this video short. Shot last year, Bardsley discusses her film "The Blazing World," an autobiographical experimental film about depression and kleptomania featuring Winona Ryder and other footage appropriated from the internet.  Check out the interview HERE!

Posted on June 09th, 2015

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Steven Woloshen Interviewed by James Snazell

Experimental scratch film animator Steven Woloshen had his film, 1000 Plateaus screened on the opening night of the Ann Arbor Film Festival and in this interview Steven talks about his film, the Ann Arbor Film Festival as well giving some thoughts on the background of his film production world.


Interview undertaken by e-mail during April 2015 with images provided by Steven Woloshem.

JS:  I’d like to start by asking when was the first time you screened work at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and how often have you been to the Festival.

SW:  I’ve shown three films at the festival. The first was “Playtime” in 2011, then “Fiesta Brava” in 2013 and finally “1000 Plateaus (2004-2014) this year. I think I may have screened “Didre Novo” in 1984. When I was in Ann Arbor, I spent a little time leafing through old AAFF programs at the Public Library.

JS:  There is such a strong film making community in Montreal and each year a number of works by Montreal film makers get shown at Ann Arbor with this year being no exception. I was wondering what you think the importance of the Ann Arbor Film Festival is both to you and also to the community of film makers in Montreal? Does the Festival help to externalize and showcase work going on in Montreal?

SW:  I agree with you that Montreal is a strong film making center but we still have to work on the "community." Since the winters are long and cold, my only contact with a lot of my filmmakers is through their postings in social media. When I began my film education in 1977, there were only a few places to look at and talk about the art of cinema. Through the years, me and other ex-graduates created “grape vines” to keep us up to date.  But, I think we could be stronger. Many independent filmmakers have higher ideals and tend to associate themselves with particular collectives, groups and other factions (I.e. analog/experimental; formal, installation, etc.).  Regardless of our individual styles, it is always comforting that my fellow Quebecers hold AAFF in such high regard.

JS:  I wanted to ask you how you first got into doing camera less films. Was it something that happened gradually over time? Was it something that suited your style of working? Is there an aesthetic process to working by way of camera less films that suits you and what you want to achieve?
SW:  I’m glad you asked this. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Laval. (A tranquil island, north of Montreal). As a teenager, life without a car was very boring and mid nineteen seventies angst and destruction was the art form of the decade.
After my parents had invested in super -8 cameras and projectors, I thought it would be a cool idea to damage and disfigure our home movies with ink and sandpaper. I still think that these visceral, direct approaches are some of the most intimate encounters in my cinematic past. Although my style has developed in the last 30+ years, I always like to look back on my grass roots. Also, in the late 70’s, my Vanier College years with Dr. Ron Burnett (now at Emily Carr College in Vancouver) exposed me to some great works of indie cinema. I still recommend Brakhage and Lye to everybody. Their films are a great pedagogical foundation for understanding the direct relationship that one could have with the medium of super-8 and 16 mm film.

JS:  Stan Brakhage wrote a short piece called ‘In Defence of Amateur’ in which he wrote, ”An amateur works according to his own necessity and is, in that sense, “at home” anywhere he works : and if he takes pictures, he photographs what he loves or needs in some-such sense – surely a more real, and thus honourable, activity than work which is performed for some gain or other than what the work itself gives…surely more personally meaningful than work only accomplished for money, or fame, power, etc….”. To me this is such an interesting quote from an interesting written piece I was wondering what thoughts you might have on such a quote?

SW:   like that quote by Brakhage. The Amateur also works with love. This is what the Latin word means, too. I am still looking for my favorite quote. In my recent book, “Scratch, Crackle and Pop,” I quoted Bergson: “The Brain; an image, cannot create images.”

JS:  I partly asked the last question because the film you had in competition at the Ann Arbor Film Festival ‘1000 Plateaus’ I know that amazingly you looked to make it in your car whilst working as a driver on film sets and you would sketch a few frames here and there when you had time. I was wondering if you could expand a bit upon this amazing and ingenious way of working.

SW:  I had a lot of secret agendas when I began “1000 Plateaus.” Revolution! Truth! Insanity! I began building my portable light boxes in 2003 just after “Cameras Take Five” was doing so well on the festival route. I wanted to work like a sketch artist - light and mobile. I also wanted to raise awareness of abstract, direct-to-celluloid films. Since I drove actors and directors all day, I thought I could use my portable light boxes and art supplies to initiate interesting discussions in the car. I knew that my passengers would have to ask the first questions, so I placed my wooden box between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. The box measures 4 inches by 12 inches, with a glass surface, metal cranks and illuminated with a small flashlight. You couldn’t mistake it for anything but a weird, DIY contraption.
My first test: I was a production driver on the feature, Noel. First, I drove Susan Sarandon, then the late Robin Williams. The producers weren’t happy but in my mind, this was akin to the driver littered the front seats with crosswords or silly novels.
I won’t spend another 10 years to re-make “1000 Plateaus.” Now I’m going to move on my next short experiment. I’ve created a lot of short films and I have a lot of new roads to explore. 

JS:  How did you find your experience of attending this year's AAFF? Was there certain things that you picked up on and gained from this year's Festival - whether in terms of viewing particular film works or seeing the way certain film makers have advanced their work, or in relation to a particular aspect of the programming of this year's Festival that you find interesting or in terms of the Ann Arbor Film Festival in general, etc.  

SW:  In the last 15 years, I’ve built up my expectations of screening films in festivals. In most cases, I arrive in a strange town, tired and full of dreams and discoveries. Most of these festivals serve my interests as much as I honour their traditions but it is ultimately about self-promotion.
I found that AAFF was a very different experience. Days before my arrival, I was asked to help my fellow filmmakers by carpooling from Windsor, Ontario. This was very foreign to me – helping others. But AAFF has that effect on people. The festival seems to be built on a foundation of local efforts, too.  A festival that offers free coffee around the corner and local patrons-of-the-arts who offer their couches and spare rooms as a gesture of international good will. At AAFF, it’s more important to praise others than to promote yourself.

The opening night mood was electric and high spirited. “1000 Plateaus” screened in the opening night line-up. Everyone stayed for the Q and A at the end of the screening. The comments were both tactful and highly emotional.

Most of the screenings happen in the main venue. It’s a great way to know your fellow filmmakers. I’ll miss the shy smiles and the American Great Lakes attitude.

JS:  I'm very much interested in ideas around the use of surface within film making, and the kind of film making that gets considered as part of experimental & independent film. These ideas particularly relate to camera less film making and the way in which film makers create marks that sit on a surface without having much recoil to creating a sense of depth. Do you have any thoughts on this?

SW:  Since my college days, I have always been interested in the surface of the film. Yes, it is an integral part of camera less filmmaking but it is also a simple strategy for a filmmaker to intervene on objective (camera shot) footage well. The artist responds, sometimes years or decades after the fact, with marks and lacerations on the emulsion to speak with the film across the oceans of time. It is almost a visceral response to the subject matter while the filmmaker shares the intimate distance of the subject matter. The vibrating, shaky feeling (this occurs because proper registration can never be achieved) moves with the rhythm and the sound of the film projector. This is a feeling that the digital projection can never transmit to the public.



JS:  In terms of the mark making that you undertook for creating '1000 Plateaus' was there any specific goals you looked to achieve regards the mark making?  (For instance Brakhage's looking to capture what he saw in his mind's eye or the relationship of mark making to music and musical notes, etc.).

SW:  In “1000 Plateaus’ my goal was to use the influences around me. The electric colors of the traffic lights, the neon on the wet streets of the city and the map art (street maps) that were important tools in a driver’s daily routine. I worked thirteen - sixteen hour days with the radio as well. It’s true that the film was organized around the jazz beat. That is the driver’s experience. The music influenced the outside world and vice versa.

JS:  How important was it to transfer '1000 Plateaus' to a digital format? Are there ways in which the work becomes enhanced or changed by way of the digital medium?

SW:  Initially, I wanted to bookend the film with a brief explanation about my process and the time it took to create the film. This was the first time I have wanted to explain the motivations for my film. I originally planned on using an optical printer but money and technical problems prevented me from going down that road (get it?) so I turned to after effects instead and I added the optical projector “hiss” as a background soundtrack. I also used an on-line colorist to help me boost the colors so I could amplify the hidden hues in the deep background. I have never used this process before “1000 Plateaus.” I am happy that I can look in the mirror and say that I have tried it.

Posted on June 04th, 2015

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Pat Oleszko Expounds on AAFF Founder George Manupelli

The passing of AAFF founder George Manupelli in September 2014 inspired a truly special reunion at this year’s 53rd Festival. Many of George’s close collaborators, students and friends, some of whom had not been back to the Festival in over 40 years, participated in a Tribute to George, held in the main auditorium of the Michigan Theater on the Sunday afternoon of the Festival.

The event opened with remarks and a performance by renowned avant grade musician David Rosenboom, who is also the Dean of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Music. Rosenboom performed his original score to Manupelli’s Portraits, Self Portraits and Still Lives 1972-73 with Special Reference to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, or This is Not Aufwiedersehen This is Goodbye.

The print for the film was generously provided by John Caldwell, who also shared remarks at the Tribute. Caldwell had been a Festival Manager during the time that Manupelli directed the Festival from York University where he had taught after University of Michigan.

Other presenters included Harold Borkin, Joe Weher, Betty Johnson, Ingrid Manupelli, Allan Schreiber, Woody Sempliner, Bob LaZebnick, Chrisstina Hamilton and visual and performance artist Pat Oleszko.

A former Manupelli student, Pat often performed at the AAFF in its early days. Be sure to check out this video of Pat talking about George and the Festival. It includes shots of her Tribute performance from the 53rd AAFF.

Posted on June 02nd, 2015

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Check out the 53rd AAFF Photo Gallery!

The 53rd AAFF was one for the books. Revisit – or view for the first time – all the wonder and excitement in a beautiful photo gallery thanks to local photographer Abby Rose Photo. Re-live Opening Night 2015, Jane Cassidy's Exhibition at the Work Gallery, the Manupelli Tribute and more - now available on Flickr.

Posted on May 27th, 2015

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53rd AAFF Audience Award Winner Announced!

The people have spoken, the ballots have been counted, and we're very pleased to announce the winner of the 53rd AAFF Audience Award.

Congratulations to Mike Hoolboom; his film Scrapbook (19 min, 2015), which had its World Premiere at the 53rd AAFF, received the Audience Award. The film also received the Pat O'Neill "Perseverance Furthers" Award, which was given by the 53rd AAFF Awards Jury (Jesse McLean, Julie Murray and Joanna Raczynska).

Mike Hoolboom describes Scrapbook in an interview with Michael Pattinson (published October, 2014):
“It was shot in 1967 by my friend Jeffrey Paull, who was working in what’s called a development centre, which is a combination mental hospital and residential daycare. The centre began at a moment when media education was just beginning in North America, and it carried utopian hopes. Jeffrey was brought in to teach the kids—all of whom had various psychological problems—how to make pictures, which meant analogue photographs, darkroom processing and printing, video introductions. These gestures were considered therapeutic, although he wasn’t schooled as a therapist. But the act of producing pictures of each other could address fundamental questions of identity formation. How can you be part of me and separate from me at the same time?"

Mike Hoolboom is a Canadian artist working in film and video. He has made over fifty films and videos. Mike Hoolboom’s films have been included in sixteen editions of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, beginning in 1988. His work has appeared in over four hundred festivals, garnering thirty awards. His work has enjoyed retrospectives at numerous international festivals including Visions du Reel (Switzerland), Vila do Conde Festival (Portugal), the Buenos Aires International Festival (Argentina), among many others. He is a founding member of the Pleasure Dome screening collective and has worked as the artistic director of the Images Festival and as the experimental film co-ordinator at Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

Posted on May 20th, 2015

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53rd AAFF Awards Announced

Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival ($3000)
The Creation of Meaning (Simone Rapisarda Casanova)

Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker ($2000)
Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili) 
The Figure Carved Into the Knife by the Sap of the Banana Tree (Joana Pimenta)

Pat O’Neill Perseverance Furthers Award
Scrapbook (Mike Hoolboom)

The Stan Brakhage Film at Wit’s End Award ($1000)
Things (Ben Rivers)

Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental Film ($1000)
Detour de Force (Rebecca Baron)

Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film ($1000)
The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs)

Lawrence Kasdan Award for Best Narrative Film ($1000)
Episode of the Sea  (Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan)

Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film ($1000)
Speculation Nation (Bill Brown & Sabine Gruffat)

The Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Experimental Video Artist ($1000)
All That is Solid (Louis Henderson)

Gil Omenn Art & Science Award ($1000)
Depositions (Luke Fowler)

Prix DeVarti for Funniest Film ($1000)
Seven Signs that Mean Silence (Sara Magenheimer)
The Song Remains The Same (Mark Toscano)

Colorlab / Niagara / ORWO Award for Best Cinematography ($1350 processing, $500 film stock)
Blue Loop July (Mike Gibisser)
A Symptom (Beb Balcom)
vindmøller (Margaret Rorison)

Kinetta Handcrafted Film Award ($1000 in film scanning and grading services)
Three Quarters (Kevin Jerome Everson)

PROCAM Best Regional Filmmaker Award
 ($750 in credit)
VV (Elizabeth Wodzinski)

The No Violence Award ($512)
Babash (Lisa Truttman & Behrouz Rae)

Tios Award for Best International Film ($500)
Old Jewish Cemetery (Sergei Loznitsa)

Peter Wilde Award for Most Technically Innovative Film ($500)
Brouillard - Passage #15 (Alexandre Larose)

Leon Speakers Award for Best Sound Design ($500)
Accent Grave on Ananas (film by Tamara Henderson, sound by Dan Riley)

George Manupelli Founders Spirit Award ($500)
Special Features (James N. Kienitz Wilkins)

The Eileen Maitland Award ($500)
Sister City (Dani Leventhal)

53rd AAFF Audience Award ($500)
Scrapbook (Mike Hoolboom)

\aut\FILM Award for Best LGBT Film ($300)
The Royal Road (Jenni Olson)

Overture/Wazoo Award for Best Music Video ($300)
Cirrus by Bonobo (Cyriak)

53rd AAFF Jury Awards ($1500)
War Prayer (Richard Wiebe)
Chapri (Kataryza Plazinska)
Peacock (Andrew Kim)
Port Noir (Laura Kraning)
Iron Ministry (J.P. Sniadecki)




Posted on March 29th, 2015

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Wojciech Bąkowski:  Live Performance

Wojciech Bąkowski, featured artist at the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival performs “Telegaz”, his most recent album. Bakowski is a Warsaw-based artist creating animation, video, drawings, collage, sculpture, and sound art and music. He is founding member of the band KOT and the electronic duo Niwea (with Dawid Szczęsny).
NOTE: This performance is rescheduled from March 26th.

Posted on March 29th, 2015

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For the full schedule please visit our 53rd Festival website at

Tickets are on sale for all programs through Eventbrite.

See you at the 53rd!

Posted on March 16th, 2015

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AAFF partnering with the U of M Latina/o Studies program to present “Abrazos”

The Ann Arbor Film Festival and the University of Michigan Latino/a Studies Program and Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies are pleased to present the film ABRAZOS by Luis Argueta. Luis will be present for a discussion about the film.

ABRAZOS narrates the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents for the first time.
There are 4.5 million other U.S. citizen children who, like them, have at least one undocumented parent and are part of mixed-status families.

Even though they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as all Americans, many of these children are growing up with the constant fear of separation from their parents. In addition, never having met their grandparents or other family members, they don’t have a clear sense of who they are and their heritage. All of these things negatively impact their welfare and that of society.

more information:

Posted on March 16th, 2015

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Jane Cassidy:
Fits of Easy Reflexion
March 14–April 5 | Work Gallery | 306 S. State St.

An exhibition of three visual music installations by Jane Cassidy.

Square Ball and Purple Tinged Pearl Buttoned Bangled-Billy are works for stereo sound, video projector, and fog machine; They Upped Their Game After The Oranges employs stereo sound and projection mapping onto a corner.

Originally from from Galway, Ireland, Jane Cassidy studied music composition and animation, earning her Masters in Music and Media Technologies from Trinity College Dublin in 2008 and and an MFA in Digital Art from Tulane University. Her work explores visual music, live visuals, electro-acoustic composition and multi-channel video.

There will be an opening reception on Saturday, March 14th at 6pm and Jane Cassidy will give a talk about her work on Friday, March 27th at 5pm.

Posted on March 13th, 2015

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“Professor Daniel Herbert on “How to Watch Experimental Film” at the AADL

On February 4th 2015, Professor Daniel Herbert from the University of Michigan presented his talk “How to Watch Experimental Film”. The lecture was held at the Ann Arbor District Library and co-hosted by the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Professor Herbert gave an overview of the history of avant-garde film and discussed several canonical works of experimental cinema. The lecture opened Germaine Dulac's with definition of avant-garde cinema:

"Germaine Dulac was a filmmaker and film theorist in the 1920’s and 30’s in France, and she thought of the avant-garde literally, as the advanced guard of the military, moving ahead and looking forward at the terrain so that the big troops could move in. She thought the avant-garde was a place where cutting edge artists would explore and invent and then slowly but surely the masses of filmmakers and the masses of viewers would catch up with them. It’s this sense of the avant-garde not only being privileged and better, but faster in a sense of exploration. She was also very adamant about saying that the avant-garde-- the best and most artistic kinds of films-- should in fact only explore what is essentially cinematic, which is to say they shouldn’t be telling stories because that is like the novel, and they shouldn’t be so dramatic like the live theater. She was advocating for a visual cinema: a cinema that used vision as its primary source of creating beauty."

Professor Herbert continued with insights from filmmakers and theorists from the early 20th century, and brought up an observation by P. Adams Sitney:

"He makes a claim that avant-garde filmmakers, as the genre has progressed, are exploring relationships between what’s happening on screen and states of mind."

The lecture continued with a summation of the different genres that have emerged from early avant-garde cinema, with screenings of some of the most well-known pieces of the art form. After showing Mothlight, by Stan Brakhage, Professor Herbert commented that:

"[Brakahge was] trying to see what the eye can see. What can film provide the eye that  everyday life doesn’t, or that we don’t pay attention to?"

Herbert also defined the mode of production that many experimental films follow, and mentioned that one of the few places where filmmakers in the genre can come together and commune is the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

"In terms of production, this is what we call an artisanal mode of production. These are films made independently by people in relative isolation, one of the few places they come together as a community is, in fact, the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Most of these people are working in basements or in sheds, and hoping that their film is going to be seen, and then once a year they get to go to the Ann Arbor Film Festival and see that they are in fact part of a bigger group.”

After the presentation concluded its depiction of modern experimental genres of film and art, Daniel Herbert discussed the transition into the post-modern era of avant-garde cinema.

"[Avant-garde cinema] switches from a modernist interest to a post-modern sensibility. A search for form, an exploration of cinema and of the self through film to a more performative, playful situation, and also a changing interest in the topic."

In conclusion to his presentation, Professor Herbert mentioned that he only covered the genres up until the 1990s, and that while there are new genres and modes of production being used today, the Ann Arbor Film Festival continues to screen films that fall into both the modern and post-modern eras of experimental cinema.

"In terms of a historical line, this lecture ends 20 years ago, and there are lots of people doing things with computer animation, digital cameras, digital kinds of things that I can’t possibly address here -- see them at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. I hope that in going to the Ann Arbor Film Festival -- which you guys are well acquainted with – you’ll see that all these genres don’t just go away, and people still make everything mentioned in this presentation. It's cumulative. I still see, especially in students, people making trance films, lots of people making lyric films that have short moments of beauty, and lots of people making things about social identities."

Experimental films continue to evolve as a genre, and at the same time speak to us in languages realized in earlier decades. Examples of all of these expressions can be found this spring at the 53rd annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, March 24th-29th, 2015.

Posted on March 02nd, 2015

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Jurors Announced for the 53rd AAFF


The Ann Arbor Film Festival is proud to announce the three esteemed jurors for the 53rd AAFF. Jesse McLean, Julie Murray, and Joanna Raczynska will each be in attendance throughout the week viewing over 120 films in competition and awarding over over $18,000 cash and in-kind awards. In addition, each juror will present a program of work during the festival.

Jesse McLean is a media artist who has presented her work at museums, galleries, and film festivals worldwide. She was the recipient of an International Critics Prize, (FIPRESCI Prize) at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen in 2014 and a Jury Prize in the International Competition at the 2013 Videoex Festival. She was a featured artist at the 2014 Flaherty Seminar and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at University of Iowa.

Her videos have been included in several editions of the AAFF, including the 48th edition where she received the “Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Experimental Video Artist” and the 50th AAFF where she received an award for “Best Sound Design”. At the 53rd AAFF, McLean will present a program of six works including her 2015 video, I’m in Pittsburgh and It’s Raining and an interactive video installation, Me and Max Martin.

Julie Murray - Drawing on her background in fine art, Julie Murray has made more than twenty-five film and digital works which have been exhibited at numerous national and international venues including the New York Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Centre George Pompidou (Paris), the London Film Festival and the Flaherty Film Seminar. Her work was featured in the 2004 edition of the Whitney Biennial and her films are part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Murray has presented her work at venues including REDCAT (Los Angeles), Anthology Film Archives, Media City Film Festival, Pacific Film Archives, Los Angeles Filmforum, the San Francisco Cinematheque and Cinematheque Ontario (Toronto). Her early Super 8mm films were selected for a National Film Preservation Foundation Award in 2014. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Murray has been residing in the US since the 1980s. Her films have been screened and awarded in several editions of the Ann Arbor Film Festival since 2000, including the 47th AAFF where she received “Best Cinematography” award. At the 53rd AAFF, Murray will present a program of six 16mm films and one digital work including two works from 2014, Line of Apsides and End Reel.

Joanna Raczynska is assistant curator in the film department at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. In the past, she’s worked for a variety of non-profit organizations including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (media arts director, 2002-2006), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, among others. She’s served as a juror for the Images Festival in Toronto and the Cleveland International Film Festival; volunteered as a screener for Silverdocs at the AFI Silver Theatre; and participated as a panelist for a variety of funding agencies including the New York State Council on the Arts’ Individual Artists Program. She holds a master’s degree in documentary by practice from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland Baltimore County where she first started making non-fiction films and videos.
Her work has screened at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; Sheffield Doc/Fest, U.K.; Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo, NY and other venues. Raczynska co-curated, with Ksenya Gurshtein, the eleven program series “Artists, Amateurs, Alternative Spaces: Experimental Cinema in Eastern Europe, 1960–1990” at the NGA in 2014. At the 53rd AAFF, Raczynska will present a program of nine works from this series with films, all made in the 1970s, from Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Poland and Croatia.


Posted on February 26th, 2015

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Directions and Parking

Posted on January 29th, 2015

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Manupelli Tribute to Include Rare 70s Film

As part of our tribute to AAFF founder George Manupelli, who passed away in September, the 53rd AAFF will have a special screening of Manupelli's 1974 16mm film Portraits, Self Portraits and Still Lives 1972-73 with Special Reference to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, or This is Not Aufwiedersehen This is Goodbye. This film originally closed the 12th AAFF on March 16, 1974.

Manupelli's 45 minute silent film will be accompanied by an original score performed live by Los Angeles-based composer David Rosenboom. A collaborator of Manupelli's in the 1970s, Rosenboom is a celebrated performer and composer and one of the pioneering figures of American experimental music.

Posted on January 28th, 2015

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54th AAFF Host Questionnaire

Posted on January 13th, 2015

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53rd AAFF Acceptance Materials

Posted on December 19th, 2014

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53rd AAFF Passes on Sale!

Be the first to get your 53rd Festival Pass -now on sale for a special discounted holiday price!  Purchase yours for $15 off until 12/31/2014.  

The Festival Pass provides access to all screenings including the gala Opening Night Reception & Screening on Tuesday, March 24th. Avoid ticket lines and assure your seat before any program sells out!

Can't make it for the whole festival? Consider the Weekend Pass. You’ll have access to all screenings & events from Friday through Sunday including award-winners’ shows.

Full Pass: $80 / $65 for students until 12/31/2014

  Eventbrite - 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Full Pass


Weekend Pass: $40 / $30 for students until 12/31/2014

  Eventbrite - 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival Weekend Pass

Posted on December 17th, 2014

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We are excited to announce that The National Endowment for the Arts has chosen the Ann Arbor Film Festival for a $15,000 Art Works Grant, which is an enormous help as we work towards our 53rd Festival, March 24-29, 2015.


The AAFF received one of 61 national awards in the Media Arts category, and is one of 30 Michigan organizations to be funded. The Art Works grant reinforces our efforts to present new works by artists and filmmakers.

A very special thank you goes out to our partners, the Michigan Theater and the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, for supporting our application.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

"Art Works" refers to three things: the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and the fact that art is work for the artists and arts professionals who make up the field.

Find out more here.

Posted on December 17th, 2014

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AAFF in Buenos Aires

AAFF Program Director  David Dinnell is at the the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento (BIM) in Buenos Aires where he will present two programs of 16mm, 35mm, and digital work from recent editions of the AAFF.

THE SEASONS REVERSE (Friday, Nov. 28) includes film and video from Ian Cheng, Kevin Jerome Everson, Janie Geiser, Sabine Gruffat, Laura Heit, Julie Murray, Charlotte Pryce, James Sansing, Robert Todd, Mark Toscano, Hope Tucker, and Joel Wanek.

THE PRESENT ALONE IS OUR HAPPINESS (Thursday, Nov. 27) includes work from Ana Vaz, Naoko Tasaka, Malena Szlam, Johan Rijpma, Simon Payne, Anna Marziano, James Lowne, Phillip Fleischmann, Wojciech Bąkowski, and Karimah Ashadu.


Posted on November 25th, 2014

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53rd AAFF Call for Entries Now Closed

Submissions for the 54th AAFF will open July 1, 2015!

The 53rd AAFF will provide at least $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to more than 20 filmmakers, serves as a qualifying festival for Academy Award® nomination in the short film category and provides touring opportunities for select filmmakers.

The 53rd AAFF will take place March 24 – 29, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI.


Selected Films

All submitting filmmakers will be notififed regarding acceptance by approximately February 13, 2015 with the email address provided at the time of submission.  Please add to your contact list to ensure receipt of notification.  Please contact Ellie White at if your email changes prior to notification.

To see a list of award winners from the 52nd AAFF please click here.
To see the 52nd AAFF schedule please click here.

Posted on November 03rd, 2014

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Posted on October 13th, 2014

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WCBN Movie Night to Launch AAFF’s Newest DVD!

                                                                                                       Image: Lunar Almanac by Malena Szlam

Catch the premiere at our launch party on Tuesday, October 14 at 9pm at Arbor Brewing Company. As part of WCBN's monthly movie night series, our much loved sister-organization will co-present the first peek at our Volume 7 DVD. It features award-winning films and other works of interest from the 52nd AAFF. Films include A Million Miles Away by Jennifer Reeder (Eileen Maitland Award), Adeline for Leaves by Jessica Sarah Rinland, Division by Johan Rijpma (Video Data Bank Best Emerging Video Maker Award), and Velocity by Carolina Glusiec (Chris Frayne Best Animated Film Award).

Volume 7 will be available for purchase along with previous volumes. Current AAFF members at the Hydrogen and Oxygen levels: be sure to pick up your free copy!

Posted on October 07th, 2014

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Bon Voyage George Manupelli:  1931 - 2014

Ann Arbor Film Festival founder George Manupelli passed away in New Hampshire on Sunday September 14. He was 82. George was an artist, filmmaker, teacher and activist.

                                                                                                                                       © Abby Rose Photography

George earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in fine art and fine art education from Columbia University. His distinguished 38-year teaching career included positions at the University of Michigan, York University in Toronto and the San Francisco Art Institute, where he was dean. He won a Cleo, the advertising industry’s equivalent of an Oscar, for his admissions film featuring Father Guido Sarducci.

During his tenure at the University of Michigan Art Department, George taught painting and initiated a filmmaking class for art students. He performed as a member of the ONCE Group, a collection of musicians, visual artists, architects, and film-makers who wished to create an environment in which artists could explore and share techniques and ideas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Ann Arbor Film Festival, which George founded in 1963, evolved from his work with the ONCE Group. He directed the AAFF for 17 years.

A pioneer in experimental film since 1955, he won international awards including the 1964 Venice and 1965 Sao Paulo Biennials. George won the Avant Garde Film Masters Award in 2007 for his Dr. Chicago film trilogy. His many films are preserved at the Anthology Film Archives of New York.

George also founded Aid to Arts of Nicaragua to fund art development after he served as Cultural Representative of the United States to Nicaragua in 1983.

In declining health and with failing eyesight, George continued to make and exhibit his art until his death, combining and re-combining objects gleaned from flea markets and antique stores into assemblage sculptures whose ironic juxtapositions and telling titles offered offbeat insights into these “modern times.” Recent exhibitions include the a one-man show at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan, and an invitation to screen Dr. Chicago at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Thessaloniki, Greece.

He is survived by his daughters Aune Manupelli-Hamilton of Ypsilanti, MI, Ingrid Manupelli of San Francisco, CA, his cousin Michael Buckley of Hudson, NH, ex-wife Betty Johnson of San Francisco, CA, 4 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Those who knew him will miss his wry humor, penetrating intelligence, loyalty and unfailing generosity. A card or remembrance can be sent to The Manupelli Family, 1 Muchmore Road, Bethlehem NH 03574.

Posted on October 06th, 2014

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AAFF News:  Spotlight on Jennifer Reeder; AAFF Filmmakers at the Flaherty; Submissions Deadline 10/1


Check out this new video short featuring AAFF award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Reeder. Her film A Million Miles Away won the Eileen Maitland Award at the recent 52nd Festival. This annual award recognizes the film that best addresses women's issues or emphasizes female voices, and in this case vocalization is unquestionably prominent. The film also won the ZONTA Prize at Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, was nominated for a Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and won the Audience Award for Best Female Director at Vienna Independent Shorts. We look forward to Reeder's new film Blood Below the Skin, which is currently in production. AAFF videographer Jonathan Tyman interviewed Reeder in our new video. It was edited by our intern Stephanie Kulmaczewski.


We are pleased to welcome the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation as our new partner for the AAFF Endowment Fund. The Community Foundation manages assets and charitable funds on behalf of the Ann Arbor community. Its first endowed fund was established in the very same year as the first Ann Arbor Film Festival-- 1963-- and we are proud to participate officially in this enduring institution.

With a wholehearted thank you, we acknowledge our donors to the AAFF Endowment Fund: Peter and Rita Heydon, Constance Crump and Jay Simrod, Bruce Baker and Genie Wolfson, Myrna Rugg and Rick Cronn, and David and Richard DeVarti. Tremendous thanks also go to Brian Weisman at Columbia Asset Management for housing our fund as it accumulated enough capital to be received by the AAACF.


Do you have a passion for our world-class cultural institution? Help insure our future success for years to come by joining forces with our exceptional endowment champions. Bequests are especially encouraged!

Please contact to learn how you can help.


Image: Basic infantry training school (EEBI) for the National Guard. Managua, 1978. Photograph by Susan Meiselas. Courtesy Magnum Photos.


Four artists who have been featured in the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be included in the Flaherty Film Seminar NYC Fall Series. Works by Rebecca Baron (34th, 37th, 45th, 47th), Doug Goodwin (47th & 49th), Hope Tucker (40th, 41st, 50th, 51st, and 52nd), and Mati Diop (49th & 52nd) were chosen by guest curators David Dinnell, AAFF Program Director, and Ted Kennedy, AAFF Board Member. The Flaherty Film Seminar was established in 1955 and is dedicated to exploring the potential of the moving image. This six-program series, "Systems and Layers," will take place every other week at Anthology Film Archives from October 6th through December 15th. Other artists in the series include renowned Russian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, photographer Susan Meiselas, filmmaker Michael Klier and others.

For more information:




Official Deadline:  October 1, 2014 - $40 Shorts / $50 Features
Late Deadline: November 1, 2014 - $50 Shorts / $60 Features

We are currently accepting submissions in the following formats: DVD, Blu-ray, Internet Link (URL) and 16mm. Filmmakers will be notified regarding acceptance by approximately February 13, 2015 via the email address provided at the time of submission.

The AAFF provides at least $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to more than 20 filmmakers, serves as a qualifying festival for Academy Award® nomination in the short film category and provides touring opportunities for select filmmakers.

The 53rd AAFF will take place March 24 – 29, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI. 
Please visit for more information.

Posted on September 16th, 2014

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AAFF News: Call for Entries, Audience Award, 52nd Tour Kickoff, AAFF in Traverse City



The AAFF provides at least $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to more than 20 filmmakers, serves as a qualifying festival for Academy Award® nomination in the short film category and provides touring opportunities for select filmmakers.


Early Deadline:  August 15, 2014 - $30 Shorts / $40 Features
Official Deadline:  October 1, 2014 - $40 Shorts / $50 Features
Late Deadline: November 1, 2014 - $50 Shorts / $60 Features

The 53rd AAFF will take place March 24 – 29, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI. 
Please visit for more information.


Image: Cakes Da Killa: NO HOMO by Ja’Tovia Gary

We are very pleased to announce that there was another tie this year.  The 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival Audience Awards ($250 each) will go to Ja’Tovia Gary for Cakes Da Killa: NO HOMO and Zbigniew Czapla for Toto
Congratulations to both filmmakers and a special thanks to all of our audience members who participated in the selection. Please visit our website HERE for more information!


Image:  Light Year by Paul Clipson

The Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour will visit galleries, art house theaters, universities, media arts centers and cinémathèques throughout the world from August through February 2015. The tour includes award-winning and select documentary, experimental, animated and narrative films from the 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival. The AAFF has had an annual traveling tour since the second edition of the festival in 1964.

The 52nd tour includes two digital programs and one 16mm program featuring new films and video from Denmark, Japan, Nigeria, Poland, India, N. Ireland, the Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Canada, England, and the US.  Filmmakers featured in this year's tour include: Karimah Ashadu, Wojciech Bąkowski, Jessica Bardsley, Ian Cheng, Sarah Christman, Paul Clipson, Kevin Jerome Everson, Jim Finn, Seamus Harahan, Pablo Mazzolo, Rebecca Meyers, Michael Robinson, Mónica Savirón, Malena Szlam, and Atsushi Wada, among many others.

Visit our website HERE for a complete listing of programs.
Please contact Ellie White at for booking information.


Image:  Lagos Sand Merchants by Karimah Ashadu

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is delighted to be included again in this year's Traverse City Film Festival. TCFF will feature "Shorts from the Ann Arbor Film Festival" on Wednesday 7/30 at 9pm, and Saturday 8/2 at 3pm at Dutmers Theater.
Purgatorio by Rodrigo Reyes, which received the Michael Moore Best Documentary Award at the 52nd AAFF, will be screened several times through the week.

Founded by renowned documentary filmmaker Michael Moore 10 years ago, the Traverse City Film Festival brings films and filmmakers from around the world to view films in the cherry capital of America. The TCFF "is committed to showing great movies that both entertain and enlighten the audience."

For more information please visit

Posted on July 14th, 2014

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52nd AAFF Audience Award Winners

We are very pleased to announce that the 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival Audience Awards ($250 each) go to Ja’Tovia Gary for Cakes Da Killa: NO HOMO and Zbigniew Czapla for Toto.

Cakes Da Killa: NO HOMO is Ja’Tovia Gary’s electrifying portrait of Cakes Da Killa (born Rashard Bradshaw), a 22 year old hip hop artist and openly gay man whose provocative lyrics explore sexuality and gender politics.
Ja’Tovia Gary is a visual artist and performer from Dallas, Texas currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work conjures the aesthetics of AfroSurrealism, and confronts traditional notions surrounding representation and identity through video art, documentary film, and installation, with the concept of Black female subjectivity as a point of departure. Gary is an MFA student at the School of Visual Arts where she is currently in production on her graduate thesis, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, an experimental autobiographical film which employs non linear filmmaking techniques while interrogating notions of the self, Black American religious traditions, family, nostalgia and psychoanalysis.
Please visit to see more of Gary's work.

Zbigniew Czapla’s animated film Toto depicts “a universal story about naiveté and irreversibly lost childhood dreams.” Hand-painted frame by frame with ink and acyclic, Toto is one of several films by Polish artist Zbigniew Czapla who is based in Kraków, where he works as a screenwriter, director, animator, painter and graphic artist. Czapla is a graduate of the Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, and is a scholar of Ellizabeth Greenshields Foundation (Canada), DAAD (Germany) and Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. He is a member or International Animated Film Society ASIFA. Toto has screened in seventy festivals worldwide and has received 10 awards.
Please visit to see more of Czapla's work.

Posted on July 10th, 2014

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