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LGBTQ+ Programming at the 59th AAFF

Silver Femme, Nico Reano, Jimena Lucero

The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is pleased to announce its lineup of LGBTQ+ programming for the 59th AAFF (online March 23-28), consisting of the 20th Out Night, a films in competition program celebrating queer cinema; the world premiere of feature film in competition Instructions for Survival; and a special program, Object (im)Permanence, curated by Andrew Robbins and Kai Tillman. Find more details about the programs below.

Films in Competition 8: Out Night

Thursday, March 25 at 7:30pm

The AAFF is celebrating the 20th iteration of Out Night, a selection of eight contemporary films with LGBTQ+ themes, curated by Sean Donovan. Sean is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan in the Film, Television, & Media department. His research analyzes LGBTQ+ media cultures. “I’m particularly moved by art that forwards a perspective about being queer in the world that melds that to a unique or surprising use of cinematic form,” Donavan said on programming Out Night. “I try to include a range of voices and identities that represent the diversity of the queer experience. This includes the different letters of the LGBTQ+ acronym but also paying attention to intersectional categories like race, nationality, economic class, ability, and body type. This true diversity of expression exists in the experimental film world, we just need to work to showcase it!” This year’s Out Night films features the following films:

Silver Femme (Nico Reano, Jimena Lucero), Astonishing Horizon! (Mar Sudac), Tamou (Tom Prezman, Tzor Edery), Mother Bunker (George Metaxas), Breath Control (Carson Parish), North American Premiere of Danni the Champion (Laura Cameron-Lewis), North American Premiere of Safe Among Stars (Jess X. Snow), Lèvres bleues (Philippe Hamelin).


Still from Instructions for Survival by Yana Ugrekhelidze

Instructions for Survival

Yana Ugrekhelidze

Feature film in competition | World Premiere

Available on-demand 3/23-3/31 - Tickets

Alexandre is a transgender man who has lived with his girlfriend Marie for more than seven years. Because of the mark “female” in his passport and his trans identity, Alexandre cannot find a job and has to lead a secret life. The violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity brings the couple to the decision to leave their homeland. To afford this exodus, Marie signs a contract to be a surrogate mother. Directed by Yana Ugrekhelidze. Watch the trailer.

Yana Ugrekhelidze was born in TbilisI, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a diploma as a Linguist-Interpreter, later earning a B.A. in Communicational Design at the Peter Behrens School of Arts Düsseldorf and her MFA at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, with a focus on film and animation. Ugrekhelidze was given the Student Academy Award of Best Young Regisseur at the Festival Corto in Spain. Her second animated film, Armed Lullaby, was funded by the Film and Medienstiftung NRW, premiered at Berlinale, and won a 57th AAFF Jury Award in 2019. Instructions for Survival is her debut documentary film.


Still from Pool Boy by Lyle Kash

Object (im)Permanence

Special program curated by Andrew Robbins and Kai Tillman

Available on-demand 3/23-3/31 - Tickets

Mainstream media representations of trans people tend to rely on narrative and documentary forms that often tirelessly depict one-dimensional medical and social transition stories. Challenging this myopic vision, this special program features an eclectic mix of experimental films made by trans, Two-Spirit, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming artists that offer aesthetically innovative meditations on intersections between art, politics, and embodiment. The program features the following films:

Sight, (Thirza Cuthand (she/her)), Pool Boy (Lyle Kash (he/him)), HOLE (Gil Goletski (they/them)), Making an Experimental Film with Lorin Murphy (Christopher Carroll (he/him), Lorin Murphy (he/him)), A Trans with a Movie Camera (Frances Damian Arpaia (she/her)), Road Rash, (Chris Vargas (he/him)), All These Moments Will Be Lost in Time (E Daley (they/them)), Soless, (Carman Spoto (she/her)), RUN! (Malic Amalya (he/him))

Andrew Robbins (he/him) is based in Portland, Oregon. He is a film festival programmer, a guest curator with the Transgender Media Portal, and currently finishing a PhD in Media Studies at the University of Oregon. Writing a social history of the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF), which debuted in 1997, he considers in his research how punk and queer sensibilities have informed SFTFF’s exhibition culture and investments in queer and trans liberation. Inspired by SFTFF’s do-it-yourself approach to film exhibition, Robbins co-founded Rewire Film Festival in Oregon in 2019.

Kai Tillman (he/they) is a trans/genderqueer cinematographer, director, and audio engineer. They have used filmmaking to combine their love of storytelling, photography, and the acoustical world. Tillman’s films are often used to create awareness about specific issues and to promote respect for difference. They have been honored to be a selected participant in the Filmando en Cuba workshops with Abbas Kiarostami in 2016 and Werner Herzog in 2017. Their short films have been screened in over 30 film festivals internationally, including Locarno Film Festival, Outfest LA, Fringe Film Festival, and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

Passes for the 59th AAFF are now on sale and include access to all the festival’s programming including over 100 films in competition, juror programs, special programs, salons, expanded cinema performances as well as Q&As with the filmmakers. Learn more about festival passes here.

Tickets for each event will be available as a sliding scale with a suggested price of $12 and a minimum of $2 per ticket (The $2 minimum covers platform fees). The tickets and festival schedule will be available on March 1.


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