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When we interviewed Mark Ducker, the Founder and Director of the Ypsi 24 Hour Film Shootout, he highlighted the importance of its partnership with the AAFF. He is grateful to have such a strong relationship with our long standing organization, to help build their reputation in the avant-garde film community. Mark told us that the Manupelli Award was enhanced this year to emphasize the relationship between the two film festivals. When asked about the criteria the jury looks for in a Manupelli Award winner, he expressed that they look for works that “mirror” the types of experimental films one would see at the AAFF and embody the values of avant-garde cinema.

The winners of the Ypsi 24 Manupelli Award, Bryan Susalla, Matt Wilken, and Jeremy Liesen, spoke with us about their challenges in making “Animals Are People II,” in just 24 hours and their love of the experience. The filmmakers all met at Washtenaw Community College in the film program and had a blast working together on this crazy project. The three have been collaborating for a few years, so it was easy for them to fall into their roles for this fast-paced production. They emphasized that they all had a part in the creation of their film, and it was important that not one person carry the load. Many hours of planning went into their film, and it was crucial to make sure they had time for a snack before editing!

A highlight of their experience was how much fun they had making this film and being able to let their creativity run wild. They focused on various eccentric elements and their main goal was to show animals doing normal, everyday human activities. One of these included a guy in a gorilla mask and high heels vacuuming the lawn. Their inspiration for this theme came from a mask that Jeremy brought and they ran with the idea that animals are people too. They gathered materials from thrift stores all over town and from there turned all of their thoughts into various “weird” shots.

All three filmmakers have attended the Ann Arbor Film Festival, one for fifteen years, and emphasized their love for the unusual at the Festival. The “anything goes” aspect of the AAFF was a source of inspiration for their film, and they went into the 24-hour shootout knowing they wanted to “make an art film” out of their passion for the Festival. The filmmakers were honored to win the Manupelli Award and are excited to share their film with the larger community!

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