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The mission of the Ann Arbor Film Festival is to promote bold, visionary filmmakers through the advancement of moving image art, and to engage communities with remarkable cinematic experiences.
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The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America, founded by George Manupelli in 1963. Internationally recognized as a premiere forum for independent filmmakers and artists, each year's festival engages audiences with remarkable cinematic experiences. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, and performance-based works. See a list of past AAFF directors here.


Thousands of influential filmmakers and artists have exhibited early work at the AAFF, including Kenneth Anger, Brian De Palma, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Les Blank, Matthew Buckingham, and James Benning.


The Ann Arbor Film Festival receives more than 3,000 submissions annually from more than 65 countries and serves as one of a handful of Academy Award®-qualifying festivals in the United States. Our awards program presents more than $22,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.


During its first four decades, the festival solely exhibited works finished on 16mm. The AAFF remains committed to the exhibition of this medium among other formats including expanded cinematic forms.


In addition to exhibiting over one hundred new films in juried competition programs each year, the AAFF presents filmmaker retrospectives, gallery installations, panel discussions, historic and thematic surveys and contemporary artist programs. Recent special programs at the AAFF include presentations by Black Radical Imagination, Josh Gardner, Amir George, Ingrid LaFleur, The New Negress Film Society, Andrew Rosinski, URe:AD TV, Julia Yezbick, Zhang Fang, and Ellen Zweig. Artists in recent attendance with programs of their work include Atsushi Wada, Tacita Dean, Yvonne Rainer, and Yuan Goang Ming, and retrospective programs have featured the work of Karpo Godina, Barbara Meter and Robert Todd.


The AAFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization sustained by the generous support of donors and members, foundations and sponsors and enthusiastic audiences.


The AAFF is a pioneer of the traveling film festival tour and each year presents short film programs at more than 35 cinematheques, universities, museums and artist-run centers in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The Festival began publishing DVD anthologies in 2008, and has produced ten DVD collections with award-winning works available for home and educational viewing. The tour and DVD offer expanded exposure for AAFF filmmakers, who are also paid for their participation in both programs.


The AAFF also presents and partners on events throughout the year, which have included screenings with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).

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