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Screening Submissions with the Ann Arbor Film Festival

August 29, 2023

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is unique in its screening review process because our very special community of volunteers joins forces to make it all happen.

We are proud to treat each submission with fair and equal consideration, an ethos set from the beginning of the festival when every single film was watched and discussed by a single group of five or six people, and never taken off the projector. Those conversations are the beating heart of our festival and something we maintain to this day despite the increase in the number of films we receive. When online submissions technology grew our pool of films by an order of 10, we maintained (growing pains aside) our dedication to community and conversation.

Our 70-80 member volunteer team includes people both brand new to the process as well as veteran screeners and everyone in between. Our only requirement is that you have attended AAFF at least once, and that you aspire to commit 25 hours to the annual process.

We pride ourselves on careful training and support of our screening cadre. Our online screening salons help our newcomers develop a vocabulary and become comfortable articulating their thoughts and feelings about the films they have been assigned. For those who wish to deepen their understanding and expand their expertise into more challenging genres, we have created scaffolded learning opportunities.

For the past 3 years, I have teamed up with screener and former board member Deborah Greer on features in competition programming, and this year have plans to collaborate with former AAFF Programs Assistant intern Rose Albayat on the animated short films in competition program. I am pleased that five of the eight special programs from the March 2023 61st AAFF were curated by members of our screening community.

Finally, for the past 5 years we have engaged “screening groups” of (mostly) college and university students who review films as a group led by their professor. They participate in an applied learning opportunity to “see how the sausage is made” while having a direct impact on the process, as the group gets one collective vote on each film they see. We also encourage the participation of other kinds of groups such as the Flavourcel animation collective based in Vancouver, and this year are launching an AAFF intern screening group.

There is a lot to know and love about how the Ann Arbor Film Festival reviews submissions, and we encourage you to join us and be a part of our film screening community!

More information about AAFF screening:

Why screen with AAFF? Here are a few screener responses:

  • "I love giving back to the festival that gives me such joy" (Patti Smith)

  • "The Ann Arbor Film Festival continues to be my favorite event of the year. I am always willing and excited to contribute to the Festival..." (Cameron Knox)

  • "I love film and want to see the AAFF continue for many years to come." (Holly Giesman Rosaro)

  • "As a filmmaker myself, I am always eager to watch films that are unconventional and experimental. Films that I would never watch on the big screen otherwise." (Rose Albayat)

  • "I love seeing what students and new filmmakers are up to, and how the zeitgeist of creative work generally evolves." (Judy Schwartz)

  • "It's great!" (Rich Griffith)

  • "Long association with AAFF and deeply abiding interest in film art." (Woody Sempliner)

Image: Life is a Particle Time is a Wave, Daniel Zvereff, AAFF60


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