From left to right: Leilei Xia, Danski Tang, Jordan Wong, Ollie Magee and Brynne McGregor
While our world’s odd and unexpected summer chugs along, so does our Call For Entries for the 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival
Each year, thousands of films are submitted and one of our cinema-buff community’s favorite activities during screening is to spot the up and coming filmmakers. Many of our films come from alumni and professionally recognized artists, however, it is always a great pleasure to discover student filmmakers with new and unique ideas.
Artists feel the pressure and insecurities of their new work and how it fits in with society. It takes a giant leap of courage to put yourself out there and be seen. We decided to reach out to student filmmakers who have had their work accepted into past festivals to find out first-hand what their experience with AAFF was like.
“When I finished my film, I always knew it would be a bit of a hard sell. To have AAFF accept it into its family of films was really validating. As a graduate, it’s an insight to where my work belongs, and a great opportunity to get to know like-minded artists!”
- Ollie Magee, Royal College of Art 2019, Nod. Wink. Horse., 58th AAFF
“Every year our school screens work from AAFF and it has been a “sacred” existence in my mind. So being selected, and even awarded, is kind of a realization of a long-time dream.”
- Leilei Xia, RISD 2020, Scar 痕, 58th AAFF, Recipient of The Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for an Emerging Experimental Video Artist
“It was a special experience being a student filmmaker at AAFF in 2019. I submitted a deeply personal film about my public and private queer identity and having had the opportunity to share that to an audience of filmmakers and film enthusiasts that I have so much love and respect for was profound for me...The one of a kind community I was able to share my time with during my stay was only love and kindness for such a niche genre of art and filmmaking. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.”
- Jordan Wong, CalArts 2020, Mom’s Clothes, 57th AAFF, Recipient of the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
“The Ann Arbor Film Festival stands out to me as a festival who really cares. Taking the festival online in just a matter of days, organizing virtual Q&As, and highlighting filmmaker voices and work on social media are just a few ways the AAFF team is so great. Receiving thoughtful messages and feedback from festival staff and jurors was also a rare and valuable experience. Like the worked featured, the AAFF is special. The AAFF showcases the work of artists in all stages of their careers, calling attention to the beauty of experimentation over a supposed technical mastery.
- Brynne McGregor, OSU 2020,
Aphasia or (It Fell Upon My Mind), 58th AAFF
"The Ann Arbor Film Festival has been very supportive of me. Especially this year, I won an award which I’m very grateful for. I think the Ann Arbor Film Festival is a good opportunity for me to meet a lot of filmmakers and watch amazing films which helps with my film practice."
-Danski Tang, CalArts, Umbilical, 58th AAFF, recipient of The Eileen Maitland Award
This year, due to the pandemic, we led the way for film festivals as the first to take the majority of our programs online with a live stream. 58th AAFF filmmakers appreciated our effort to fulfill a wonderful event for them as well as the audience. One of our student filmmakers, Laura Conway even spoke to us about her “life-changing” moment in her bathtub, candles lit, laptop “treacherously over the water”, watching Video Blues, live-streamed on Vimeo.
The AAFF takes pride in our unique programs, which wouldn’t be the same without our young artists joining the list of accepted filmmakers. Although potentially online for another year, the festival will continue to provide a space for young filmmakers to connect with and inspire others. If you are a student filmmaker, please consider submitting to the 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival, as we hope to fill your screens with engaging and (sometimes) strange films as always. For more information and/or questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck!
58th AAFF, For The Old World