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Why Submit to the Ann Arbor Film Festival?

The 57th season of the Ann Arbor Film Festival is open for submissions!

We are one of the oldest experimental film festivals in the world and we made it up as we went along. We led the way for many festivals who have come and gone, and inspired others who benefited from our lead. After 57 years, we continue to champion the most innovative film art of the day.


1. We give each and every film entered into our festival equal and full consideration. Your film will be reviewed by two different people from our enthusiastic cadre of AAFF volunteers—folks who love and attend the festival and can’t get enough of the films we show. They are on the lookout for the AAFF vibe, range, and visual and philosophical aesthetic.

If the first two reviewers are in disagreement, then one of our trusted advisors (a maker, teacher, writer, or longstanding reviewer) has a look. About a quarter of works evaluated in the first round move on for further consideration by the advisor group, and half of those go on for final deliberation by the program director (and any others who are programming). They may pull any film at any time for additional review.

A listing of films set aside from the first round is seen by our advisory board (an entity different from the screening advisors). Alumni films from the first round are also revisited.

2. When a competing film is selected for the festival, it is seen in the historic Michigan Theater. Short films in competition screenings take place in the gorgeous 1920s 1,700-seat movie palace, and feature films generally show in the lovely 200-seat screening room with state-of-the-art sound system.

Three seasoned and accomplished jurors will sit amongst the audience on a mission to distribute over $20,000 in awards such as Best International, Best LGBTQ, Most Technically Innovative, Best Sound Design, Best Regional, Funniest, and others. Short films that win Best of Festival, Best Animation, Best Narrative, and Best Documentary qualify for Academy Awards. Additionally, a selection of awarded works and other “films of interest” are invited to be a part of the oldest film festival touring program as well as the AAFF DVD, for which the filmmakers are paid.

While I haven’t been as prolific a maker as I once was since I took the helm as AAFF executive director, I owe it to my fellow artists to provide as fair and transparent a process as possible.

3. Finally, if your film is selected and you attend the festival, the Ann Arbor community will eagerly welcome you with housing and celebrate you all week long. There will be nourishing refreshments, enthusiastic viewing, and intelligent dialogue about your work, and you will have the opportunity to meet and make lasting relationships with other artists of our tribe.

To all of you film artists out there, I encourage you to share your work with us and I wish you the best of luck with your submission!

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