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AAFF Receives NEA Grant

The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival. The 59th AAFF will present a survey of contemporary moving-image culture to a broad community of diverse audiences in March 23-38, 2021. Short and feature-length films in the festival’s competition programming, as well as in filmmaker retrospectives, reflect broad conversations occurring within the history of cinema and fine art. The competition programming presents a range of genres, such as animation, nonfiction, narrative and abstract works. Within the scope of a single program of films, audiences (including jurors) also experience a diversity of formal approaches, tonalities, registers, and modes of address. The 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival is among 1,073 projects across America totaling nearly $25 million that were selected during this first round of the fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this project from the Ann Arbor Film Festival,” said Arts Endowment Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. “The Ann Arbor Film Festival is among the arts organizations across the country that have demonstrated creativity, excellence, and resilience during this very challenging year.”

"On behalf of the board of directors of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, I'd like to thank the National Endowment for the Arts for their most recent grant,” said Sue Dise, board chair of the AAFF. “We are so pleased the NEA continues its commitment to creative expression and artistic experimentation through their generous support of the AAFF, a commitment the Festival has embraced for six decades. Thanks to their financial assistance, the AAFF remains a robust showcase for the international filmmaking community during these challenging times."

For six days (March 23-28, 2021) the 59th AAFF will aim to provide filmmakers and filmgoers with an engaging and intensive week of independent, experimental, and artist-made cinema featuring 40 public programs of over 100 films, videos, and live media performances. The funding from the NEA will help to cover the costs of the juror and special programs, which complement the films in competition programming.

Each year, the festival enlists the expertise of three internationally recognized moving image artists who review all films in competition (FIC) programming and confer over $23,000 in awards. Of the nearly 50 programs at the 59th AAFF, about 26 screenings are FIC shorts and features, comprised of over 100 films and digital media works produced by emerging to established artists from around the world. AAFF is focused on presenting the finest moving image art, not based on an annual theme. The festival programs the very best experimental and avant-garde work from submissions into a broad survey show. The AAFF received more than 2,300 submissions this season from over 100 countries with an acceptance rate of about 4%. It serves as one of the few Academy-Award qualifying festivals in the U.S.

The jurors also present programs showcasing their own groundbreaking work, free and open to the public. AAFF aims to select jurors who are at different stages of their career from upcoming to established, have different world views, and are working in different genres.

All FIC, juror, and special programs conclude with a Q&A session, encouraging dialogue between filmmakers and the public.

For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit


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