58th AAFF Programs

These Expanded Cinema Performances, New Media Installations, Salons and Special Programs were scheduled for the

58th Ann Arbor Film Festival  |  March 24 – 29, 2020

Thank you to all the artists, curators and coordinators for all their hard work. Please visit their websites and send them some support!





Raquel Salvatella de Prada

Part sculpture, part light installation, part video animation, Cornered is an immersive visual experience that represents the motivation and struggles of migrants leaving their home country and making an attempt, most often failed, to cross the border from Morocco to the Spanish cities of Melilla and Ceuta, the only European cities on Africa’s mainland. The visual imagery focuses on the ambitions and struggles of the migrants, from the journey from their home country to the many attempts to enter Spain, and the frustration of the perpetual effort to reach their dream—the dream of a better life for their families. 


Raquel Salvatella de Prada integrates experimental video and animation with different traditional art forms, often by collaborating with artists of diverse backgrounds in such media as printmaking, installation art, and performance. She finds that the combination of her digital medium with physical visual media can be a powerful way to communicate about social issues.


Ian Haig

Meatspace is about the confrontation of the body. It is a reminder that in our increasingly mediated reality our bodies are still trapped within Darwinian husks of meat and sacks of flesh. As the user moves through a series of meat rooms, there is no narrative, no game, no interaction, no logic, no end, no beginning—just meat. Meatspace was a term first coined in the mid-1990s first wave of VR evangelism for those trapped by their flesh, by the limitations of their messy and wet meat bodies. Twenty years later we are still trapped by our flesh, but our bodies now extend through an electronic landscape. Meatspace is no longer a separate category to our mediated world, but implicitly part of it.


Ian Haig’s body-obsessed themes can be seen throughout his work over the last twenty years, including exhibitions at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Artec Biennale, Nagoya, Japan; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Art Museum of China, Beijing; and Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany.

Moving Pictures

Bill Brown

Moving Pictures is a 3-channel 35mm slide projector installation that looks for movement both within and beyond the moving picture. In this kinetic sculpture, an animated image created by three automated slide projectors is projected on a rolling projection screen that moves back and forth through the gallery space. The illusion of motion of the animated image is thus translated into physical movement through space. Moving Pictures relocates and extends our perception of movement in motion pictures from the neurophysiological operations of visual perception, where movement is just an illusion, to the real time movement of images and objects through space. This installation allows the intermediary space of projection—the space between the slide projector and the screen—to be understood as a sculptural space that can be shaped, transformed, and visualized in real time. 


Bill Brown is a media artist interested in ways landscape is interpreted, appropriated, and reconfigured according to human desires, memories, and dreams. His research interests include UFOs, memorial architecture, and outsider archaeology. He currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he is the co-director, with Sabine Gruffat, of the Cosmic Rays Experimental Film Festival.


Zlatko Ćosić

A selection of work by Zlatko Ćosić, a video artist born in Banja Luka, Yugoslavia. His art spans a number of disciplines, including short films, video installations, theater projections, and live audio-visual performances. Ćosić’s artwork has been shown in over fifty countries, for which he has received a variety of recognition.

An Undue Burden

Jex Blackmore

On display 24/7 at the AAAC’s Aquarium Gallery on Ashley Street

An Undue Burden is an endurance work that follows the experience of a pregnant woman awaiting her abortion procedure in a hotel room over the course of twenty-four hours. Striking a balance between the public and private domain, the film draws parallels between a political discussion involving a woman’s intimate, personal life and the public square. Veiled by the private room, we see the female body as a contested site as her isolation transforms the mundane into a living taboo. With minimal spoken dialogue, her gaze and actions drive the narrative, allowing the story to unfold of a woman in negotiation between her independence and confinement. We are reminded of what is sacrificed in putting one’s life on hold for twenty-four hours (or more) and see ourselves in nuanced familiarities—a call to reconsider the burden of mandated abortion waiting periods in a political climate which dismisses the lived experiences of those directly impacted by these regulations.


Jex Blackmore is an artist whose work addresses the relationship between moral religious rhetoric, sexuality, and political policy. She has been featured in numerous publications such as TIME, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, NPR, Cosmopolitan, and Salon. Her work is featured in the Magnolia Pictures documentary Hail Satan?, which was an official selection at Sundance 2019.

Absorbed Analogies 

Noel Stupek

Experiments with unfussy expression, swerving impressions, kooky constructions. “The square is an arresting matter” has influenced the installation a touch.


Noel Stupek is an artist of installations.

We Sustain Ourselves through the Histories of Our Ancestors

Alejandro T. Acierto

This work opens questions about the viability of hashtag activism in an era of networked culture. Working through gestures of presence and absence, this interactive installation remembers the life and work of trans Latinx activist Sylvia Rivera, a womxn fiercely committed to activism related to housing displacement, incarceration, abuse, and income inequality within LGBTQ spaces. Foregrounding one of the few captured moments of Rivera, where she highlights structural inequalities within the LGBTQ movement following the Stonewall Riots, this work scans the Twitterverse for instances of #lgbtq to advance frames of the video at each tweet. Tethered to the frequency of the hashtag, the image of her call to action freezes when the hashtag is no longer in use, pausing intermittently as the conversation subsides.


Alejandro T. Acierto is an artist and musician whose work is informed by queer sensibilities of time and presence. He holds an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently the Mellon Assistant Professor of Digital Art and New Media at Vanderbilt University.

Alice-XR: A Machine For Thinking

Claudia Hart 

See lobby signs for times 

This installation consists of two VR worlds, The Flower Matrix (2018) and Alice: A Machine For Thinking (2019). Both combine realities by staging captured live performance and music in an artificial, algorithmic space. Coinciding in a single exhibition, two viewers sit back to back, each immersed in a parallel representation, roaming freely, intimate but alone together. The installation is loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, expressing Hart’s idea of the meaning of VR itself as medium—a place half-real and half-fake, in which the body occupies one space and the head another—like Lewis Carroll’s original story, a world of inverted logic, the perfect vehicle for confounding the mind, its perceptions, and its preconceptions.


Claudia Hart is an early adopter of virtual imaging, using 3D animation to make media installations and projections, then later, as they were invented, other forms of VR, AR, and objects using computer-driven production machines, all based on the same computer models. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she developed a pedagogic program based on this concept: Experimental 3D, the first program dedicated solely to teaching simulations technologies in an artworld context.  


Another Way of Looking at the World: Glimpses of the Ann Arbor Film Festival

U-M Library presents a small exhibition of AAFF ephemera, including programs, posters, photos, and Pat Olezsko’s plates, gathered from university and AAFF collections.

Cross Talk: Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese Art Films and Documentaries 

Guo Zhen (China/USA)

He Chengyao (China)

He Yunchang (China)

Wang Qingsong (China)

Xie Sichong (China/USA).

The Chinese concept of Ben Zun (“the enlightened”) refers to the state of adulthood with a surreal power. This ascent to Ben Zun is elaborated in these artists’ films. Audiences can feel their acute senses and sensibilities in living at a tumultuous time of instability, insecurity, and inconsequentiality. From their perspectives, we discover the representation and fruition of becoming oneself embodied in the motivations for seeking an individual identity with freedom, independence, recognition, trust, and love. The life experiences of these five filmmakers from Taiwan and mainland China are intermingled with social, political, and cultural variations which inspire them to focus on the immediate life around them. Dialogue with others or themselves spark excitement and disillusion.


Organized by Fang Zhang, art critic and historian, Hughes Fellow (2016–2017) and a Center Associate of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at U-M.

The Fold: a Labyrinth

Alex M. Lee 

See lobby signs for times

This interactive, virtual reality-based hypertext installation involves rooms with doors containing a concept folding into other rooms with doors. Each room contains an idea inspired by structuralist and surrealist literature, mathematics, the readymade virtual object, and more. This project is a recombinatory experience where no one playthrough is exactly the same. Some rooms involve interaction where others don’t. Some rooms are puzzle experiences where others are more experiential. All rooms follow a similar visual monochromatic motif.


Alex M. Lee is an artist who utilizes 3D animation, game engines, and the potential of simulation technology in order to visualize and abstract our understanding of time, space, and light—gathering concepts from within science, science fiction, physics, philosophy, and modernity. 

On the Move
Moving Image Makers Collective

A touring program of experimental film from the Scottish Borders-based Moving Image Makers Collective. As the first self-curated program of films by MIMC, On the Move speaks to notions of intervening—with assistance from the moving image—upon one’s immediate environment. By turns tentative and assertive, these works find rhythm, music, and movement in acquired objects, found phenomena, and even silence; each, in its own way, argues the case for environment as a conditioning device: a way by which one thinks about negotiating the world, and the basis for any aesthetic response to it. 


The Moving Image Makers Collective emerged from the Scottish Borders Community Filmmaking Initiative, a series of workshops run by Alchemy Film & Arts in 2014. MIMC members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and include authors, poets, photographers, filmmakers, playwrights, painters, and mixed media artists. They meet monthly to present new work for peer feedback, an ongoing and collective process of exploration of the moving image which has led to this new program.

Student Reels

Work by students from the College for Creative Studies (Detroit, MI); Edge Hill University (Ormskirk, UK); the University of Michigan Department of Film, Television, and Media in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (Ann Arbor, MI); and the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design (Ann Arbor, MI).

They Came Together to Perform Heroic Gestures (in the manner that was meaningful to them)

Gordon Winiemko

This video installation uses 3D to simulate immersion in two seemingly disparate pastimes—political protest and cosplay—in order to examine the intersection of political action and performative fan culture. We all want to be empowered, don’t we? And what better way to “power up” than to take on the guise of a powerful avatar? The Woke Activist … or the Warrior Queen … chanting, holding a fist aloft … or wielding a talisman-like weapon … and when we yoke our identity to a group of like-minded people—a tribe—that feeling of agency is amplified. And don’t we feel so good, so righteous—because of it?


Gordon Winiemko is a Los Angeles-based artist. Frequently, through the medium of the screen, his work explores the cultural framework—those “things we do” that are sometimes so commonplace that we often forget how they shape our lives, for better or worse. 


Invisible Instruments

Matt Roberts and Terri Witek

A digital microscope and custom video mapping software lets participants project microscopic parts of themselves coupled with short poetic text onto large architectural objects, overwriting a public space with an ephemeral and intimate one.

Matt Roberts is a new media artist and Associate Professor of Digital Art at Stetson University.

Terri Witek is the author of six books of poems and the Sullivan Chair in Creative Writing at Stetson University


Memory Distrust 

Sharon A. Mooney

The artist’s formative memories, which are reconstructed in these holograms, interrogate the subjectivity of story. The illusory nature of memory is reinforced by the image quality. Recreation can supplant the original, even while empowering the artist to act as their own witness.


Sharon Mooney works in experimental, narrative, and documentary portraiture focused on investigating desire and the human condition. She is a member of the faculty at the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University.

What We Saw

Blank cards are provided for you—the audience—to write down what you observe at the festival, onscreen and off. Leave your card in the box provided at the What We Saw station to be photographed and added to the ongoing slideshow. This presentation is an experimental remix documentary made possible by you: the savvy, diverse, and experimental-film-loving AAFF audience. All are invited and encouraged to participate!



Bitch, Thunder! 

This all-female drumline from Toledo, Ohio, led by accomplished percussionist Jess Hancock, consists of eight women committed to inspiring female musicians while proving the power of drumming in public spaces. To help kick off this year’s festival, Bitch, Thunder! will lay down their percussive sounds in front of the theater before the first screening.


Salon Session

Film Art Forum

In this Pecha Kucha-style event, twelve filmmakers and other festival guests present 20 slides for 20 seconds each, resulting in a dozen six-minute talks by film artists. The subject matter varies, with all presentations aiming to promote an in-depth exploration of cinema as an art form and to encourage further discussion that nurtures the AAFF community.



Pat Oleszko

Bits and pieces from Pat's past filmed performantzes are shown with a-lithe sartorially splendid component to glorify or horrify the whole she-bang. A few that jest may turn up are:

Darwin's Nightmare: The Plight of the Nesting Bottle-back Turtles: a global warning performed near Cape Canaveral, Florida; The Half-Astro-nuts Dilemma and To Air is Human the banned manned moon module crashes in foreign territory and the Astro-nuts disparately try to adapt; Goldmen Sex, a relationship ends boldly and badly; Kneeple at the Movies with Kneel and Dimples a short suite; Odds at Sea Bahian Odyssey: some local myth-tics are led by a buoy to sea to see!

See Presents/Presence during the live stream event as a part of Films in Competition 3, Wednesday, March 25, 4pm; Films in Competition 6, Thursday, March 26, 6pm; Films in Competition 9, Friday, March 27, 6pm; and Films in Competition 13, Saturday, March 28, 4pm.

Live Cinema Performances

her* hands and his shape

Sílvia das Fadas and Masha Godovannaya

In a dual screen phantasmagoria we are conjuring past and future ghosts of women who made films politically, or gave their presence to films politically.  We refuse to forget. Our hands scratched and shot new images while stealing images from others, in fresh and outdated film stocks. Our hands developed the images in the dark, negative and positive, shadows of shadows. Our eyes widened in view of the spectral images appearing on the surface of the film strips, and each time our disquiet hands will interfere and throw color and light to those images on screen. There’s no avoiding the ghosts in the machines; in moments of haunted liveness such as this all is doomed to disappear and return in other shapes.

See her* hands and his shape during the live stream as a part of Films in Competition 4, Wednesday, March 25, 6pm.

Masha Godovannaya is a visual artist, experimental filmmaker, and queer-feminist researcher. Approaching art production as artistic research and collective action, Masha’s artistic practice draws on combinations of approaches and spheres such as moving image theory, experimental cinema and DIY video tradition, social science, queer theory, decolonial methodologies, and contemporary art.

Sílvia das Fadas is a filmmaker, a researcher, a teacher, a wanderer. She is interested in the politics intrinsic to cinematic practices and in cinema as a way of being together in restlessness and brokenness.

The Sick Sense, part 2: The Seventh Sense

Brent Coughenour

Building on research by Diana Deutsch, Alfred Bregman, Maryanne Amacher, and others, The Sick Sense is an ongoing project exploring the limits of the perceptual system. These projects stimulate otoacoustic and flicker phenomena and auditory and visual hallucinations while searching for stimulus patterns that deactivate the brain’s default mode network, switching the brain into the role of ecstatic perceiver.


Brent Coughenour is a media artist originally from Detroit, currently based in California, whose most recent work incorporates computer programming for live manipulation of sound and image. He has presented his work at a variety of festivals and venues throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Salon Session

Latinx Lived Realities Through New Media

Joey Lopez and Jonathan Guajardo

Latinx Lived Realities Through New Media highlights Latinx student works and gives the film community insight into the lived reality of student filmmakers.


Joey Lopez is the Director of the Department of Communication’s Media Lab at Texas A&M. He is an interdisciplinary artist and professional media creator whose academic focus is facilitating the next generation’s ideas and projects.


Mud Season

Sean Clute and Otto Muller

Each spring, the snow melts. Its crystalline formation of hexagons dissolves and the earth emerges: mud. Mud is an in-between stage, a mix of organic and inorganic material, an edgespace between geologic processes and biological decay, a site of potentiality. Mud Season is an audiovisual performance that incorporates hand-drawn animations, interactive video, and sound. Visually, the work travels under the spring moon as snow melts, revealing what is hidden underneath. A celebration of growth, the performance includes a creature emerging from the mud, an explosion of rainbows, and an expanding orb of sunlight. The work uses custom-built software, a MIDI controller, various drawing apparatus and video projection.


Sean Clute is an artist who experiments with video, sound, and performance. His work has been presented at The Kitchen, MuseumsQuartier Wien, Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Autonomous Mutant Festival. Clute lives in Vermont where he is an Associate Professor of Media Art at Northern Vermont University.

Otto Muller is a composer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. His chamber works have been performed internationally at festivals. Muller leads the Socially Engaged Art BFA program at Goddard College in Vermont, where his research interests include cross-cultural aesthetics and critical arts pedagogy.



Two Steps on The Water

Angelo Madsen Minax

An omniscient musical narrator offers a glimpse into the lives of two adolescent boys who wrestle, throw rocks into swimming holes, and use social media to pass the time in their small river town.

See Two Steps on The Water during the live stream as a part of Films in Competition 5: Out Night, Thursday, March 26, 4pm.

Angelo Madsen Minax is a filmmaker, performer, and visual artist. Minax’s projects explore complex queer intimacies, chosen and biological kinships, and the relationships that emerge between landscape and embodiment. His works have screened and/or exhibited at spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, European Media Art Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and the British Film Institute.

Salon Session

Crowdfunding to Build Independence


Seed&Spark connects people through stories that matter. Since 2012, their platform has helped thousands of creators bring stories to life and to audiences via story-centric crowdfunding, on-platform streaming, live community events, and workplace programs that cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion. At the heart of their cornerstone Crowdfunding to Build Independence workshop is a dedication to connecting creators with their audiences. It lays out the steps toward a successful crowdfunding campaign, as well as a career-long action plan most likely to create a lasting, flourishing, direct relationship with your audience. You’ll learn how to find and activate your audience, structure your crowdfunding campaign and pitch video, pick the right goal and incentives, and much more beyond marketing the campaign itself. Because after all, it isn’t just about crowdfunding: it’s about career building. Your career starts here!

Salon Session

Cross Talk: Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese Art Films/Documentaries

Moderated by Fang Zhang

Sponsored by: U-M Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies

This panel will discuss both Taiwanese and mainland Chinese video artworks and documentaries, along with recent historical developments. It will also examine how artists and directors analyze the ways in which the impersonation of different identities and the pursuit of individual empowerment has an impact on generating awareness of cultural and social changes. Michigan State Professor Tze-lan Sang and U-M scholar Fang Zhang will examine how gender, masculinity and femininity, and selfhood are embodied and performed in the works by Taiwanese documentary makers and mainland video artists respectively. Film critic Wood Lin will give historical backgrounds for the social and economic impetus that has influenced the rise of documentary art films in Taiwan and mainland China. These presentations will each be followed by a cross talk featuring Anne Rebull in conversation with Fang Zhang and Guo Zhen, Zheng Wang in conversation with Tze-lan Sang, and U-M Professor Markus Nornes in conversation with Wood Lin and Akiyama Tamako.


Fang Zhang has an M.A. in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. in Translation for Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Foreign Affairs College. She was a 2016–17 Hughes Scholar at the University of Michigan Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies. Over the last three years, she has taught about contemporary Chinese art at the University of Michigan, organizing exhibitions and symposium as well as  film screenings. Her current research is on the implications of post-1970s cultural policies in China on the rise of contemporary art.

Live Cinema Performance 

Emotions in Metal

Tommy Becker

This visual album, divided into eight vignettes, blends video, music, poetry, performance, and computer-generated design. The short works link thematically in the artist’s investigations of human-vehicle relationships. Whether performing instructional poetry in the garage, documenting the interiors of strangers’ cars, or celebrating art world connections to the road, the work balances a playful humor with a critical eye on where society is currently parked. 

See Emotions in Metal during the live stream as a part of Films in Competition 8, Friday, March 27, 4pm.

A poet trapped in a camcorder, Tommy Becker continues to feed his video, music and poems into his never-ending saga, TAPE NUMBER ONE. Becker’s single channel works are often translated to live cinema performance. His work has screened nationally and internationally. Since 2004, he’s worked as an arts educator in San Francisco.

Expanded Cinema Performance

A Concise History of American Progress

Kit Young

This work of expanded cinema is created by live improvisation within the artist’s video synthesis and feedback systems. The core of these systems is a video diorama. It is a portable apparatus that uses several cameras and screens to establish feedback loops. Its robotic control systems allow the artist to place sculptural objects in motion within the feedback signal streams, thus establishing a dynamic symbiosis between the inherent symbology surrounding the objects and the generative but recursive nature of video feedback imagery.

See A Concise History of American Progress during the live stream as a part of the Friday afterparty, March 27, 8pm.

Kit Young produces video and performance art. He builds video systems that can be played in an improvisational way. He performs collaboratively with other artists to create expanded cinema events. Experimental studio sessions become video essays. Though his work utilizes new media techniques, his practice is grounded in themes of perception, awareness, social justice, and humor.

Salon Session

Inside Out: Film as a Medium for the Exploration of Experiences of Mental Illness

Michaela Grill, Ian Gold, Lawrence Joseph

This presentation introduces an art-based research project from McGill University in Montréal, Canada, wherein female filmmakers suffering from mental health issues were asked to make films about them. The goal was to see if films generate a different knowledge than usual scientific approaches to mental health. The methodology developed was successful in generating works of art, producing research findings, and providing evidence that research developed by means of a collaboration between artists and traditional researchers is possible.


Ian Gold is a philosopher whose work addresses theoretical problems in psychiatry. Michaela Grill is a professional filmmaker with an interest in women’s health. Lawrence Joseph is a quantitative epidemiologist and biostatistician with interests in art.


LOOPS 2020

Pickle Fort Film Collective

Hands-on 16mm loop-making workshop with sound stations and Montessori-style instruction. Come make live cinema with us!


The Pickle Fort Film Collective has been making and displaying hand-made 16mm loops and sounds for the past five years. They meet every Thursday in Grand Rapids for a Montessori-meets-live cinema experience.

Expanded Cinema Performance 

Spectral Landscape

Luis Macias

A landscape. Without color and movement. Only a landscape. “At that beautiful moment between reality and dreaming, an incorporeal animal emerges from the darkness and light. Dark, violent and self-assured, it shares its fears of nature’s despair. But don’t be afraid—it’s an animal just like you. Did you see it? Wake up and open your eyes.”


Luis Macias is an artist, filmmaker, and image composer. Focused on experimental and procedural practices of analog image, his works in Super 8,16mm, 35mm and video formats are composed for projection, performance, or installation. His films and expanded cinema works have been seen around the world. 

Live performance

David Olson with BLJC Musicians

Multimedia artist David Olson returns to the festival for a special evening of audiovisual collaboration with Blue LLama Jazz Club musical director Dave Sharp. Bringing his defrag aesthetic of creating new, unexpected wholes from seemingly disparate parts, Olson creates a unique live cinema experience, mixing images from his 30+ years as a visual artist, as well as fragments of archival festival film and media from collaborators around the world, including Iran, Palestine, France, Thailand, Israel, and monastics from Plum Village Zen Buddhist Monastery and International Mindfulness Center.

Salon Session

What the Hell Was That?

Moderated by Daniel Herbert

This panel discussion has been an Ann Arbor Film Festival favorite for more than a decade. It began when a filmmaker overheard an audience member declare, “What the hell was that?” after viewing his film. An enlightening discussion ensued, and the idea for the panel was born. Join visiting filmmakers and other special guests for an opportunity to watch and discuss three short experimental films selected from this year’s festival lineup.


Daniel Herbert is a media scholar and Associate Professor of the Department of Film, Television, and Media Arts in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan.

Expanded Cinema Performance

Works on White

SpOp (Marit Shalem) and Badgewearer (Tony Kennedy)

Works on White is an audio-visual collage of collected sources and recordings, as well as literary references. It improvises on interpretations of white, seen either as a sublime or a malign force. The performance reflects on the way in which history repeats itself as a back to the future phenomena. In times when social cohesiveness is crumbling around the globe, we see a reactionary tendency in governments and on the streets. At the same time a movement is advancing, seizing an opportunity to establish new connectivity and social structures.

See Works on White during the live stream as a part of the Sunday afterparty, March 29, 7pm.

Tony Kennedy is the founding and now only remaining member of the jazz punk band Badgewearer.

Marit Shalem is an artist who produces drawings and experimental video works, achieving Meisterschüler in Arts in Berlin, living in Rotterdam since 2000.


Women Make Movies: Sweet Bananas and The Women’s Happy Time Commune
Curated By Ariel Dougherty

In these feminist works by Ariel Dougherty and Sheila Paige, non-actors collaborate in unscripted, loosely structured story lines “to play” imagined selves. Utilizing a women-led crew and women-centric cast, the films capture the flare of early feminism in funny and surprising ways. The films were shot in 1970 and 1971 under the collective Women Make Movies, founded in 1969. Andy Warhol had a strong influence on the style of both Dougherty’s and Paige’s films in this program. 

Ariel Dougherty is a teacher, filmmaker, producer, mentor, and advocate for women-directed media and culture of all stripes. Sweet Bananas (director, 1973) and !Women Art Revolution (producer, 2010) are among the hundreds of films she has worked on. She writes at the intersections of women-identified media, especially film production and media justice, women’s human rights, and funding for media. She is fine-tuning a new work, Running Dogs. Currently, she is completing a book, Feminist Filmmaking Within Communities, about 25 girl-centered contemporary film teaching programs in the US, with a look back at parallel activities in the 1970s.

Eye Filmmuseum presents Disquiet American: The Animated Collage Films of Martha Colburn
Curated by Simona Monizza and Marius Hrdy 

Filmmaker, artist, and animator Martha Colburn creates work that is both biographical and autobiographical. Her animation displays confrontational imagery, jump cuts, sonic distortion, found footage, collage, and direct manipulation of the film stock. She uses music for inspiration, its chaotic energy underlining her films. Historical cornerstones are used to offer an artistic reflection on imperialism, and the corroding effect of capitalism on social cohesion in the United States. This compilation program presents Colburn’s work in both analogue and digital form, with new restorations and digitization.

To see The Penny Stamps Speaker Series Online, please click here to watch: vimeo.com/402163907
This video requires the following password: colburn2020 Available March 30 - April 8, 2020

For this program we would like to acknowledge the precious contribution of Anthology Film Archive.

Simona Monizza is Curator of Experimental Film at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, where she is responsible for the archiving, preservation, research, and presentation of the experimental film collection. After graduating from the Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House in 1998, she worked at the BFI and then joined Eye in 2000 as Film Restorer and then Collection Specialist. Currently she is focusing on the preservation and promotion of experimental films made by women.

Marius Hrdy is a cultural worker, film programmer, and writer. He is a programmer of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival and has recently co-curated a historical retrospective on Dutch experimental filmmaking in conjunction with Eye that premiered at the Austrian Filmmuseum in Vienna. His writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Kino!, Jigsaw Lounge, and Jugend ohne Film. He is an active member of the cinema collective Filmhuis Cavia in Amsterdam.

Women Make Movies Workshop Films: Community Women at Women Make Movies Tell Universal Cinematic Stories

curated and presented by
Ariel Dougherty

In 1969, filmmakers Ariel Dougherty and Sheila Paige founded Women Make Movies, a non-profit organization that established a community media workshop for women in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Secretaries, housewives, and retirees came to the WMM workshop to make movies, short black-and-white films, shot without sound on a wind-up Bolex. The stories presented are personal yet universal, reflecting the women’s varied experiences. 

Welcome to Commie High
Donald Harrison
Ypsilanti, MI | 2020 | 93 | digital
World Premiere
Welcome to Commie High explores an experiment in public education—Ann Arbor’s Community High School—from its humanistic, antiestablishment origins in the early ’70s through its survival into the ’90s, when sudden demand for this alternative, small school led to a phenomenon of lines, camping, and lottery systems. Now standing as one of the only remaining public schools of this wave of the free school movement, we see how the “Commie High” model has evolved and continues to reflect the world around it.

For more information on a special screening of Welcome to Commie High please see the blog post.

Filming in the Dark: Early Experiments from Taiwan

curated by Markus Nornes and Wood Lin

brought to the AAFF with support from the Taiwan Film Institute and Taiwan Docs

Filming in the Dark: Early Experiments from Taiwan consists of a selection of newly discovered experimental films from 1960s Taiwan. Modernity hit different parts of Asia unevenly. In the art world, its full force was blunted first by prewar colonialism and then by postwar dictatorships. When the American experimental scene was lively enough to support the creation of a festival like AAFF in 1963, Taiwanese artists were under the grip of martial law and knew of these developments only through reading, word of mouth, and travel. Inspired by the countercultures they only heard about, groups of young artists began creating an experimental film culture constructed from their imaginations. They made experimental documentaries about their world, animated films, fictional features, and even expanded cinema works using multiple screens and helmet-mounted projectors. Most of these films are lost. However, through the concerted effort of the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival (TIDF) and the Taiwan Film Archive, a sampling of these early experiments was recovered from closets, garages, trunks, and dusty shelves. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is proud to present a sampling of these long-lost films. Wood Lin, programming director for TIDF and one of the leaders of the team that researched this unknown history, introduces the program.


Markus Nornes is a professor of Asian cinema at the University of Michigan. Most of his work is on Japanese cinema, particularly the documentary tradition. He has published widely on the Japanese pink film, Korean Hallyu, Taiwanese cinema, Chinese film festivals, and film translation. His latest book is a co-edited reader of Japanese film theory.


Wood Lin was born in Taiwan in 1981, finished his master’s degree in sound and

image management at the National University of Tainan Department of Fine Arts in 2006. He has been a juror for many international film festivals, including DMZ International

Documentary Film Festival (South Korea), International Film Festival Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (Czech Republic), Dokufest (Kosovo), Hong Kong International Film Festival, Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards (Taipei), and Taipei Film Festival. He has worked at the Taiwan Film Institute as program director of TIDF since 2013.


curated and presented by Terri Sarris and Peter Sparling

Inspired by the 75th anniversary of Maya Deren and Talley Beatty’s seminal dance film Choreography for Camera (1945), and celebrating the global proliferation of dance on camera festivals, the AAFF introduces a program of screendances to the festival. This selection of works offers a retrospective sweep of the hybrid form, from Ed Emshwiller’s Thanatopsis, featured in the first AAFF in 1963, to more recent works shot in Great Britain, Congo, Israel, Canada, and Detroit. Curated by Terri Sarris (U-M Film, TV, and Media Department) and Peter Sparling (Emeritus Professor, Department of Dance), both local media artists and a longtime teaching team of U-M’s interdisciplinary screendance course. 

Terri Sarris teaches media production, including courses on screendance and the AAAF, at U-M. She co-taught (with Markus Nornes and filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda) a course on direct cinema documentary, and produced The Big House, a feature-length film on the Michigan Stadium, which has screened nationally and internationally. She continues to create films and digital media, many of which have screened at the AAFF. Sarris has been a juror and moderator at the Traverse City Film Festival, and a curator and adjudicator of screendance programs for the Echo Park Film Center, the Mini Microcinema in Cincinnati, and the Detroit Dance Film Festival.

Recipient of the 1998 Governor’s Michigan Artist Award, Peter Sparling is Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Dance and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and The Juilliard School, Sparling danced with the companies of José Limón and Martha Graham. He directed Michigan’s own Peter Sparling Dance Company from 1993–2008. His dances for video have been selected for the New York Dance on Camera Festival, Lisbon’s InShadow Festival, Court Métrage/Cannes Film Festival, DANCE:FILMS Glasgow, ADF’s Dance Film & Video Festivals, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Unseen Migrations

curated and presented by Jacob D. Barreras and Deborah Greer

Exploring new definitions of experimental film, writing, movement, and performance, Counterpath Press and the Unseen Festival present Unseen Migrations, invoking notions of the resistant, the excluded, and the unacknowledged. Interweaving five films, three movement performances, song, and spoken word, physical and metaphysical elements collide and form an explosion of art, light, sound. Colorado-created and inspired artworks conjure and co-mingle onstage and onscreen to create a cohesive and experiential theatrical display.

Jacob D. Barreras is an experimental film and video projectionist and film programmer. He has a unique passion for programming films from new and emerging filmmakers, as well as works ranging throughout the history of avant-garde cinema. He is the film curator for the Unseen Festival, as well as the Head Academic Projectionist for the University of Colorado Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts.

Deborah Greer, currently living in Denver, CO, is an arts entrepreneur with a passion for experimental cinema.