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57th AAFF in the works

A Word from Our Executive Director

We are currently in the middle of reviewing the nearly 3,000 film submissions received this year. The film review process is at the very heart of what we do. The structure of the film festival was formed around the screening process, and it is at the root of our longevity and success. At the beginning, our founder George Manupelli insisted that there be a minimum of five or six people who would collectively watch all of the films together, each from beginning to end. You could not take a film off of the projector and had to watch it all the way through.

First illuminated by the projector bulb, then by the conversation that followed, each film was beheld by the group and considered for inclusion in the festival. An educational process took place through the discussion of each film. Like the many facets of a prism, each member of the screening committee brought their own unique perspective to an investigation that considered the elements of each film.

In the beginning it was 200 films, but with the advent of online submissions platforms, we receive nearly 3,000 submissions a year in the present day. Today, we are fortunate to engage more than 50 volunteer screeners. I’ve written about the process in great detail in a past blog post. While it is no longer physically and temporally possible for six people to watch and discuss each and every film together, we remain committed to the ethos contained in that process. The conversation is extended via a series of salons designed for our newest reviewers to become comfortable in discussion.

Dialogue about the films is one of the juiciest activities that we engage in, and this extends beyond the screening process.

The moment that a film hits the screen and a viewer is watching is the real moment that the art is happening. All of the energy and effort that went into the making is activated and communication is taking place. AAFF films are unconventional and typically leave room for viewers to insert themselves, to hear their own thoughts, and to reflect upon their experience. Watching encourages a back-and-forth exchange between what you see on the screen and what you project of your inner world back onto the film, and the film can act like a mirror.

Talking with others about what you experience takes it to the next level, which is one reason that people enjoy attending the festival so much. Whether comparing notes with your friend or a stranger, there is so much to discover.

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