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A Program is Born

A Word from our Director

The 57th AAFF programs are nearly complete, and we are excited about all of the thought-provoking and mind-bending beautiful film art poised to grace the silver screen come March. Thank you, filmmakers, for sharing your latest work and for sending new visions, thoughts, feelings, and ideas to consider for inclusion in the upcoming festival.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is truly Ann Arbor’s film festival. Filmmakers and attendees from near and far notice and tell us that grassroots support from the Ann Arbor populus enriches their experience during festival week. Members, donors, sponsors, hosts, and volunteers provide resources that fuel the engine that brings the best in experimental film to Ann Arbor each year, and for that, we are grateful!

Building on a rich tradition of collective support, this year we have opened up our programming process to more deeply involve our community in the creation of the upcoming 57th festival. Gatherings to view and discuss submissions with our dedicated film reviewers and very closest supporters have opened channels for energetic dialogue. We thank our cadre of more than 50 volunteers who help us identify the most appropriate films for our festival. Your assistance in scouting for the work that fits our aesthetic and philosophical sensibility is undeniably essential.

Of the nearly 3,000 films we received this year, approximately 130 have been selected to show at the festival. We appreciate the AAFF community, whose input has influenced what will hit the screen in March. A few special shout-outs:

  • Jacob Barreras, media specialist and head academic projectionist in the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder and an important part of the AAFF tech crewsince 2012. We appreciate the many hours and all of the feedback you contributed to the review process as our feature-length-film screening adviser.

  • Sean Donovan, doctoral candidate in the Department of Film, Television, and Media at the University of Michigan, who reviewed and programmed Out Night. We are proud of the work you have done in bringing about AAFF’s 18th annual celebration of LGBTQ film.

  • Woody Sempliner, former AAFF festival manager; thank you for standing in as director in the late 1970s and early 1980s while George [Manupelli] was off teaching at York University College of Art in Toronto, Ontario, and thank you for coming back so many years later to join our screening cadre.

Look for Woody’s Films in Competition program at the upcoming festival. Woody will also be the guest of honor this year at the Annual Director’s Fundraiser, to be held at 5:30 p.m. at Sava’s (216 South State Street, Ann Arbor) on Opening Night of the 57th festival: Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Former AAFF directors Ruth Bradley and Vicki Honeyman are past honorees who have been celebrated at what is now a three-year-old tradition.

After five years of leading the festival, recent changes to our staff and organizational structure have made it possible for me to lead the programming process for the festival this time. I have been screening films for several years from round one of the screening process and on. Works of the highest quality and fit filter through to round four for programming.

This year, strong voices of women and people of color were quite prevalent. Technology’s effect on civilization, the dark side of human behavior, and embodied spirituality are examples of themes that emerged. Such themes pooled together for a while and then dispersed as the programs came together. Within each grouping, we aspired to balance a variety of techniques, lengths, aesthetics, genres, and pacing. Each arrangement of films considered the dynamics of sound and silence; color and black-and-white; and established makers and new talent. Another goal was to demonstrate contrast, tension, rhythm, and complementarity.

Each program is intended to stand on its own as a full package offering satisfaction, completeness, and the true AAFF experience. We can’t wait to share all of these remarkable films with you in just a few short weeks. Mark your calendar for March 26–31, 2019, and ask for some time off from work!

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