A Word From Our Executive Director:
Along with the Ann Arbor Film Festival staff, upwards of fifty volunteers, and over half the board, I have spent the past weeks watching films submitted in consideration for the 55th AAFF. The films are innovative and imaginative and speak to the contemporary moment.
Submission review has been the heart of the AAFF. Beginning annually in 1963, a group of dedicated individuals knowledgeable in film and the arts would gather, view, and discuss anywhere from 300 to 500 16mm films. Festival founder George Manupelli requested that they not only watch every film in its entirety, but they only meet collectively -- a minimum of four people -- so that discussion and an educational process could occur.
Technological developments in 2004 led the AAFF to embrace works created in video. Internet streaming and the online application process led to a tenfold increase in submissions. The days of the screening committee assembling every evening for six weeks to view films became impracticable. Over the past dozen years, the Festival developed new systems for bearing the load.
The AAFF is grateful to its many directors for contributing revisions to the screening process. These changes include establishing three rounds of viewing that allow every film to be watched. This year we reconnected with Manupelli’s vision for “a very open forum” for experimental films. Reexamining his intent that “the structure of the Festival would contain the values and the purposes of the Festival,” we successfully built a buddy system into the first-round screening process. The result is a richer and more satisfying experience for all involved.
This change is one of many taken to make the upcoming Festival as inclusive and diverse as possible.
Leslie Raymond AAFF Executive Director