I became an Ann Arbor Film Festival host in 2012, just one year after I moved here from Indianapolis. It happened almost serendipitously, and this decision has had a tremendous ripple effect on my life. It started as a way to see independent films, and it grew into a decade of introductions, friendships, and collaborations.
I’d never heard of the festival before, but while I was talking to a coworker about Couchsurfing (I hosted travelers for free in my home as part of a cultural exchange), she said the magic words to me: “would you host a filmmaker for a free film festival pass?”
Of course, I signed up. I lived a mile from the Michigan Theater and took tremendous pride in showing people around and fostering a love for this city. I also really missed the art scene I was a part of in Indy. Being a volunteer with the AAFF has filled that role in my life.
I’ve hosted filmmakers in three different festivals, and it’s easily one of the most rewarding aspects of the Ann Arbor community. I opened my door to a filmmaker, and I got so much more out of it in return.
I've had many fantastic conversations with my guests about their work, their lives, and art in general. My full festival pass gave me access to the screenings and the Opening Night Gala (DEFINITELY not to be missed!), where I built friendships with people I’d have never encountered otherwise. In years where I had Festival Week off from work, I lost track of the number of screenings I saw; it felt like I entered another world. In years where I had to work, I knew I’d be able to get into my favorites from years past, even if I couldn’t go every day.
I’ve lived in Detroit for the past several years and have been unable to host. I’m happy to be back home in Ann Arbor! In addition to being able to host again, I have accepted the role of Guest Services Coordinator, which means I will be helping all of the incoming filmmakers find housing! I am beyond excited for this opportunity.
If you’re interested in hosting a filmmaker for this year’s festival, please fill out this form. If you’re curious about it and would like to ask me questions, email me at email@example.com! I would love to talk to you, and I hope to see you enjoying yourselves at the Michigan Theater in less than 2 months!