RULES AND TERMS
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is open to experimental films as well as films that demonstrate a high regard for the moving image as an experimental art form, no matter the genre. Each year the AAFF selects 100-145 shorts and features for exhibition in the awards competition portion of the festival.
Films previously submitted may not be re-entered unless there has been a significant change to the edit. Later versions of a film may be reviewed and/or selected at the programmer's discretion.
Short and feature-length entries are accepted.
Short films run no longer than 60 minutes. Feature films run 60 minutes or more.
Entries not in English should have English subtitles.
Works in progress may be submitted, but are juried in the same pool as all other submissions.
Work must be contemporary - completed within the last three years.
Entry fees are per film entered, and must accompany the entry form for confirmation. Entry fees are non-refundable.
Make checks and money orders payable to the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival does not give waivers or discounts.
Entries are accepted via secure online screening and 16mm only. We do not accept DVD, VHS or video data files for screening purposes.
If you would like the festival to preview a 16mm print of your film, please contact the festival directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
IN THE SCREEN!
Expanded cinema, salons, performances, and intermedia art. Free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.
Previously known as, Off The Screen!, In the Screen! features a virtual gallery space presented by Saganworks, live expanded cinema performances streaming worldwide, engaging salon sessions to help audiences learn and connect, and installations viewable from the street in Ann Arbor. In The Screen! installations, both virtual and in-person, will be up starting on March 3 while the rest of the series will be presented during festival week (March 23-March 28, 2021). This series aims to foster meaningful conversations about the culture of the moving image.
Featured artists will showcase their work through performances, installations, and salons. Salon sessions include a variety of workshops, discussions, and demos pertaining to experimental art and film. Registration is required for salons and workshops unless otherwise noted. Once you register you will be sent the link to attend.
Virtual Gallery in partnership with Saganworks
Alice Inside by Claudia Hart
Bamboocene: Memories of Synchronicity - Part 3 WebGL by Monika Czyzyk
Bot, by Aaajiao
Darling, Work 1 and Darling, Work 2 by Michele Monseau
Flipped Books by Marie Paccou
On a clear day you can see forever by Ian Haig
Installations viewable from the street
Coming March 3
For Your Eyes Only by Yasmine Nasser Diaz
U-M Institute For Humanities
For Your Eyes Only is the latest iteration of multidisciplinary artist Yasmine Nasser Diaz’s bedroom installation. At first glance, the constructed space is a shimmering homage to the bedroom disco—a sanctuary for uninhibited dance and self-expression. It has also become the setting from which many personal videos are made and shared widely on social media, where platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have blurred the boundary between public and private. Projected into the space is a montage of casual videos shared by female-identifying and non-binary persons of SWANA (Southwest Asian/North African) origin dancing solo in their rooms.
To some, the videos may seem innocent and innocuous, but they can also be seen as acts of defiance that assert the autonomy of bodies that have been surveilled, scrutinized, and censored throughout history. Alongside these intimate moments is a separate reel showing political figures and protest movements from the SWANA region. The images demonstrate the fluctuating attitudes and regulations impacting human rights and freedoms based on gender, and exemplify how—whether we are physically at a protest or sharing our physicality in virtual spaces—our bodies are engaged in some level of risk.
One Man’s War by Li Binyuan
111 South 4th Ave.
In performance art terms, “man breaks 301 hammers” seems to be a straightforward enough concept. But Li Binyuan’s One Man’s War transcends the form. A man does what he has to do, which seems impossible to accomplish. So much so that he is showing fatal fatigue after performing repetitive actions; but at the same time, those invisible rules and regulations wrapped outside of the body are forced to appear. It eventually turns into a historical fable that concerns the individual’s life.
Li Binyuan was born in 1985 in Yongzhou, China. He graduated from the Sculpture Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. Currently living in Beijing, Li is an active contemporary artist, as well as a documentary and experimental filmmaker. His work has exhibited throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, and is in the permanent collection of the
Museum of Modern Art.
An Undue Burden by Jex Blackmore
Ann Arbor Art Center (Aquarium Gallery)
An Undue Burden is an endurance work that follows the experience of a pregnant woman as she awaits 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 function as a narrative driver, 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.
The Well by Deb Todd Wheeler
Ann Arbor Art Center
Following the sudden deaths of her vibrant and beautiful son Lucas and her brother, the lyrical filmmaker Rob Todd, Deb Todd Wheeler fell into a state of deep mourning that involved hunting for grief rituals across the country. Situated in the running waters of Southern Vermont, The Well invites the camera into a grief ritual between flowers and friends. Each of these women is grieving, filming, collaborating. This is Deb Todd Wheeler’s edit of the communal footage. It's a conversation with Rob, a cry for Lucas, and an out-of-body experience of surrender.
Deb Todd Wheeler generates discreetly intimate experiences through interactive installations, objects, and participatory gatherings. Raised by musicians, and trained as a material craftsman, she has an interest in both antiquated and new technologies and an attitudinal nimbleness that spawns collaboration across disciplines. Her projects act as a vehicle for processing both material and emotion.
IT'S NORMAL FOR SOME THINGS TO COME TO
Tuesday, March 23 at 9:30pm
Live collage cinema and live collage sound! Legendary sound collage group Negativland teams up with legendary live cinema artist SUE-C to bring you a streaming audiovisual performance about our nervous systems, our realities, and the evolving forms of media and technology that inevitably insert themselves between them. Original music, found sounds, uniquely organic visuals, manipulated media, Boopers, and a few surprises are normal to come to your attention.
Kit Young, Allen Moore
Wednesday, March 24 at 7:30pm (included with FIC 5 ticket)
How can we reinforce the circular, pluralistic, feedback-driven nature of environmental symbiotic relationships and oppose the linear, anthropocentric modes espoused by neoliberal capitalism? What does joy look like in a time of environmental, economic, and social collapse? What light do academic theories like enactivism, posthumanism, actor-network theory, and decolonial theory shed on what it feels like to live in the world? Given our collective history, how might expressions of national grief manifest?
The Room Presumed
Wednesday, March 24 at 9:30pm
The Room Presumed utilizes machine learning and real-time video processing to reveal the paradoxes inherent in the ways we speak about “immersive” media. The work is inspired, and the software partially trained on, an early 1980s thought-experiment at Atari in which a group of computer scientists envision “virtual reality” without any of the needed tools to do so. Through this exercise, the subjects become improvisational actors, speaking the roles of “user” and “interface.” Trained on these accounts, The Room Presumed distends and completes their unfinished acts—revealing the strings that support an illusory veneer of a so-called “technological immersion.”
Thursday, March 25 at 5:30pm (included with FIC 7 ticket)
Hecate, the three-headed Greek goddess of sorcery, magic, and the keeper of the threshold that separates the living from the dead, emerges from her watery passageways to dance. Slowly, the stage comes to life and joins Hecate in this humorous and ritualistic performance. Set to an original score, Hecate’s Palladio experiments with live video, green-screen compositing, video projection mapping, and dance in this new work.
Sonic Escape Routes: Shall We Fly? or Shall We Resist?
Rena Anakwe, Akeema-Zane
Thursday, March 25 at 9:30pm
Akeema-Zane and Rena Anakwe come together to map a fictive sonic architecture of the ongoing debates among Weeksville residents during the height of the community’s cultivation and, ultimately, its demise. Sonic Escape Routes seeks to explore the following: what is the spiritual core, and where is the liminal space, for a people whose freedom to thrive remains in question? And what are the varying routes that anchor us toward flight or resistance? Through a collaborative sound and visual performance, the artists aim to assert and embed their own personal narratives and histories, in order to traverse the archives of Weeksville, and in doing so answer these questions.
Operation Jane Walk
Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner
Friday, March 26 at 10pm
In Operation Jane Walk, the digital war zone of a video game is appropriated with the help of an artistic intervention. The urban flaneurs avoid combat and become peaceful tourists of a digital world, which is a detailed replica of New York City. Accompanied by two guests, the audience watches the performers promenading in the digital battleground, exploring the possibilities (and impossibilities) of new media technologies. While walking through the post-apocalyptic city, issues such as architecture, history, and urbanism are being discussed. This program is possible thanks to support from the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.
Electromagnetic Environments: Sound Image Performance
Saturday, March 27 at 5pm (included with FIC 14 ticket)
Electromagnetic Environments is a solo performance by artist Paloma Kop, who works with expanded media processes to produce generative time-based work, combining electronic and digital systems with analog and material processes. This experimental performance will combine live video and audio synthesis, transmissions and interference, and echoing synesthetic landscapes, adapted to the medium of online streaming. Patterns and behaviors produced through video feedback systems can resemble natural phenomena such as fractals and fluid dynamics, while radio signals which pervade the space we inhabit are collected, made audible, and manipulated in space and time. All these elements combine to form an ambient, evolving audiovisual environment.
SALONS & WORKSHOPS
3/3 - 3/28
Make your own 16mm film loops with Sean Kenny of the Pickle Fort Film Collective. Mail yours back to the address below and it will be included in the LOOPS 2021 post-screening performance on Saturday at 9pm. You will need: Clear 16mm film leader, and markers. What you might want: ink, glue, anything you can add to the film strip. If you live in Ann Arbor you can pick up materials needed for the workshop for free from the Ann Arbor District Library (downtown branch).
Make sure to mail your loops back to the Pickle Fort at the address below!
The Pickle Fort Film Collective
1141 Hermitage SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Film Art Forum
Panelists: Stephanie Barber, Jex Blackmore, Natasha Beste, Gerry Fialka, Katharine Fry, Ash Goh Hua, Virginia Lee Montgomery, David Opdyke, Victor Orozco Ramirez, and Deb Todd Wheeler
Tuesday, March 23 at 3pm (recording now available)
In this Pecha Kucha-style event, ten filmmakers and other festival guests present 20 slides for 20 seconds each, resulting in a series of 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.
Zoomation Workshop: Animating Connections
Across Social Distances
Christine Veras, Steve Leeper
Workshop (registration required)
Saturday, March 27 at 12:45pm
This workshop offers a playful opportunity for participants to exercise social distancing while interacting in a safe collaborative virtual space. This pandemic has forced us all into a new form of digital gathering. As artists and animators, we can break the rules of everyday interactions, creating a virtual animated territory. Join us to create an original piece of experimental animation using pixilation to animate both humans and objects. Pixilation is an animation technique pioneered by Norman McLaren utilizing human animation puppets, giving them fairy-like movements similar to pixies. In this workshop, we will combine pixelation, stop-motion, and time-lapse photography across a Zoom interface to create a truly unique animation experience.
What the Hell Was That?
Moderated by Daniel Herbert
Salon Session (registration required)
Sunday, March 28 at 12pm
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.
Maybe You're a Peach Tree Maybe
Sholeh Asgary, Heather Kapplow
Workshop (registration required)
Sunday, March 28 at 2pm
An ongoing, audience-participatory exploration using prompts, and immersion in sense and process within the context of video-telephonic gatherings to disambiguate image from experience, making space for the unresolved. Lived social experience is indeterminate and has stuff—a sense of timing, nuances of body language, cultural norms—that doesn’t encode into technologically mediated interactions. What’s perceived as noise in digispace is often important information in physical life. Using strategies that bypass conventional communication so gesture, sound, and movement can transmit as it emerges from intuition, our exercises resist their interfaces of transmission, subverting technology’s capacity to contain us. Modeling possibilities and buying time for things beyond current imagination to emerge, we remind ourselves that interfaces can be adapted, broken down, changed if their limitations are made visible.
AFTER-DINNER LOOPS 2021
Pickle Fort Collective
Saturday, March 27 at 9pm
Please join us for a multimedia performance by the Pickle Fort Film Collective. Headnotic beats and handmade 16mm film loops are on the menu. After a big meal of wonderfully curated experimental films, we invite you to get up, stretch, imbibe, and DANCE to our concoction of sight and sound designed specifically for an experimental set.
GUTTER, DJ GIRL
Sunday, March 28 at 8pm
Terrible Tuesday is a weekly audiovisual beatdown that airs on its home base datafruits.fm—and we’re bringing it to the AAFF for the first time. Based in Chicago (by way of Detroit), DJ and producer DJ GIRL spins fast-tempo musical madness, while Detroit visual artist GUTTER provides experimental brain-bending live visuals. Let us bring the club to your living room on the most "terrible" day of the week...
DJ GIRL is the baddest b**** in techno bass, serving hard techno and electro beats since 2016. GUTTER is a VJ/visualist from Detroit, Michigan, specializing in experimental video and live performance. Together they run the independent record label EAT DIS.