Screenshot from a 58th AAFF filmmaker Q&A
When you were young what did you yearn for? Did you seek out space for your voice to be heard? A space that valued your opinion and alternative perspectives? Were you able to find a community that gave you the opportunity for real-world experiences?
The Ann Arbor Film Festival continued being that space for young creatives for the second year in a row through our university and group screening project. For this project, AAFF invites university professors and their students to participate in the film review process, offering a unique hands-on, applied-learning opportunity. Professors lead their students through an assigned cue of films, discussing, scoring, and commenting about each film submission. The class receives a single vote per film reviewed, contributing to the robust AAFF film review process. (You can learn more about the review process here)
The university and group screening project encourages experimental film discussion and shares the mission of our festival with a variety of different communities. This project is an outgrowth of the AAFF screening salons, meetings where our community screener reviewers come together to watch and discuss film submissions. Pre-covid, our salons were filled with cheese platters, fold-out chairs, and sometimes our lovely office Smart TV. However, since the pandemic began, we now host the salons via Zoom where we can still delve into conversations about films albeit without the cheese.
We created this project in hopes of broadening the AAFF’s relationships with student filmmakers and encouraging them to discover what experimental film can be.
Our team is immensely grateful to all of the students who participated from 16 different universities, including Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Emerson College, and SUNY Binghamton where one university writer even wrote an article about the project.
“...It feels meaningful to take a small part in something larger than us,” Hadar Arens, a senior psychology major and cinema minor in the animation class at SUNY Binghamton said “I feel that our voice and opinion is appreciated and taken into account, even as undergraduates still learning about film and animation.”
The AAFF also had one non-university group–an animation collective–Flavourcel, that worked together to foster an experimental film dialogue and send us thoughtful feedback for their second year with us.
This project allows us to highlight the special and unique films submitted to the AAFF. The festival constantly looks for ways to introduce our work to many different communities and by working closely with students and professors, we hope to educate and inspire a new generation of filmmakers and create life-long members of the AAFF community.
“This is a wonderful project and my students felt very engaged and also felt integral to a festival process which was very educational. They also thought the level of film submissions was quite high,”
- Jeanne Liotta, Associate Director for Graduate Studies, Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts, University of Colorado, Boulder
As a film student myself, I see what an opportunity this project is for the students. This internationally recognized film festival encourages students to share their opinions while learning about different types of cinema. I joined the festival as an intern because of its rich culture and I have been thrilled to be able to build projects for other students like me.