The results of our t-shirt giveaway are now in! To win a 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival t-shirt you just had to share a photo of yourself wearing a t-shirt from a previous Ann Arbor Film Festival on Instagram between March 22-March 29, 2020, use #AAFFcontest and follow us on Instagram @aafilmfest
And the lucky winner is….Paul Sutherland! Paul shared a photo of himself in a t-shirt from the 55th AAFF, but he’s actually attended fourteen festivals over the years! Not only has Paul been an attendee, but he’s also one of our star volunteers. During festival week, he normally would be shooting interviews with visiting filmmakers as well as capturing footage and the energy of AAFF throughout Ann Arbor.
We asked him a few questions about his experience with the festival as well as what he thought of the very first live stream.
Paul, pictured here with his buddy Igor, who normally lives in the U-M FTVM equipment room
So, what did you think of the 58th AAFF Livestream Paul?
The live stream was a wonder of quick adaptation and arrived as something of a miracle. It wasn't just a live stream of the films, it recaptured a lot of the inspiration and joy that I usually get from immersion in the Michigan Theater during Festival week. I thought that spirit would be lost when the festival was initially canceled. It's worth noting that some parts of the festival even benefited from this format. I wouldn't be surprised if we got to hear from more filmmakers during the Q&A session via the internet than we would have in person at The Michigan Theater. The greatest benefit for me personally is that I got to share the festival once again with my best friend who moved to the Seattle area a few years ago vowing the only thing that would bring him back to Michigan was the AAFF. Thanks to the online format he was able to watch nearly all of the programming from Washington and talk about the films with me much like we used to. I really valued having that back. A big thanks to technical director Tom Bray and the rest of the crew for somehow finding a way to make this happen on such short notice.
What was your favorite program?
Opening night's Films in Competition 1 always has a special energy to it. The first program of the festival seems very carefully selected to present a variety of work and to feed on the extra energy that the first-night crowd always brings. The laughter and cheers are always louder. We didn't exactly have the crowd this year, but the energy was still there. I really enjoy the documentary work that turns up in the festival every year and along those lines, The Deepest Hole (Matt McCormick) really stood out for me. The short, Shannon Amen (Chris Dainty), from the Out Night program, was really moving, too.
How are you involved with AAFF?
I started attending screenings occasionally in the early 2000s at the recommendation of a high school literature and art teacher. By the 49th Festival, I was attending as much of festival week as possible, even taking time off work to do so. It's not unlike a vacation totally immersing myself in the experimental film world for almost a week and leaving as much of my typical daily life behind as I can. I work professionally in the film/video world so now I try to give back helping the festival with documenting every year on video, lately focusing mostly on shooting interviews with visiting filmmakers but also shooting some b-roll around the community during festival week. I try and make sure I still have lots of time to sit down and get lost in the films being screened though!
What do you think makes AAFF valuable to the community?
I think the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the strongest representative of Ann Arbor's art community. That's a big statement, but I believe it. I have talked to filmmakers from all over the world who submit their films to our festival because it is a known name leading experimental film culture. I think often about how fortunate I am to have, just out of sheer luck, right here in my own community something so important and critical to our world. It's vital to Ann Arbor and to the globe that we not let the festival's voice fade away.
Thanks for being a part of the AAFF community, Paul!
If you want a t-shirt from the 58th or a past festival you can check out our store here.