As the executive director of the festival for 14 years (spanning from the 26th festival in 1988 to the 40th in 2002), Vicki Honeyman was critical in preserving the tradition and aesthetic of the festival. She also has an immense effect on the people who she meets and works with. Last year, a former AAFF intern, Matthew T. Anderson, wrote to us to share his experiences working under Vicki during his time with the festival:
Hi [AAFF Team],
I visited the Ann Arbor Film Festival when I was a senior in high school in 1998 and knew I wanted to be a part of it when I came to UM for college. I started interning my freshman year, and interned every year after that, followed by a few years on the screening committee. When I started, the office was run out of the back of Vicki's barber shop, and films had to be submitted on 16mm film; we did not review submissions on video (and I don't even think DVD existed, yet, or just barely). So we had a projectionist in the office a few nights a week to screen submissions for the committee. One particularly vivid memory I have is being invited up on stage, in drag, to dance inside an inflatable penis during Pat Olezko's opening gala performance at the 40th Festival.
Being a part of the Festival for 6 years showed me the huge breadth of material and options and methods and points of view that exist outside of traditional narrative and documentary film. It was such a huge, important supplement to the education I received at Michigan. Although I don't work in the film industry now, it really did set me on my path. In 2003 I traveled to the Sundance Film Festival with Chrisstina Hamilton, the AAFF director at the time. I met a group from Outfest, Los Angeles' LGBT film festival and hit it off. By the next year I had a job at Outfest, which then led to a fulltime job at Sundance, working in the programming department. I programmed short films for both Outfest and Sundance, and stayed at Sundance for four years before going to law school, inspired by indie film gurus who had law degrees. Part of my work at Sundance even involved managing our programming partnerships with art house theaters across the country, including with Russ Collins and the Michigan Theater!
My work as a lawyer now, with only a handful of filmmaking clients, is not too connected to film. But I know that my outlook regarding film and art in general is greatly informed by the bizarre, wonderful, confounding, and passionate filmmaking I saw while a part of the AAFF. I am grateful for the experience and for the strong base the Festival provided in regards to viewing, thinking about, and discussing art.
Best of luck on the Festival this year!
Thank you, Matt, for sharing your experiences!
Don't miss out on Vicki Honeyman's specially curated film program Vick's Picks, which will screen at the Michigan Theater on Saturday March 24th at 9:15pm!