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The 59th AAFF Special Programs

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is pleased to announce the special programs to be presented online during the 59th festival week. Five Special Programs will be available for on-demand viewing on the AAFF’s Eventive platform March 23-31 unless otherwise noted. Passes are on sale now, tickets go on sale March 1. The AAFF special programs complement the films in competition programs by providing an additional opportunity for the festival audience to view avant-garde films outside of the award competitions, offering expanded context for those programs. With a commitment to diversity and a desire to promote a broad range of perspectives, the programs underscore the festival's longstanding commitment to being a platform for underrepresented voices.

This year's special programs include historic and contemporary animation by BIPOC artists, trans-made films, Native American experimental work, a talk by Pipiolotti Rist, and a retrospective of Sylvanie Tendron. Find the lineup for the 59th special programs below.

Yellow Fever, Mukii

BIPOC Experimental Animation

Carrie Hawks believes in the magic of animation. There are stories that cannot be filmed in real-time with the camera, stories we don’t understand until days, years after they happen and are passed through generations. The artists in this program peer into layers of consciousness, create portraits without faces, detail the ways white supremacy attempts to oppress internally and externally, celebrate resistance to colonial forces, and present the tenderness of a personal archive (aka the voicemail). An escape from terror encapsulated via stop-motion puppetry. You’re invited to enjoy this experimental animation program of films crafted by people of the global majority, BIPOC folks. Curated by Carrie Hawks.

Cousin collective cycle 0 59th AAFF special program


The collective COUSIN was founded in 2018 by Alexandra Lazarowich, Adam Piron, Sky Hopinka, and Adam Khalil to provide support for Indigenous artists who expand traditional definitions and understanding of the moving image by experimenting with form and genre. To celebrate and impart their mission, the collective launched CYCLE 0, a curated program of select, previously non-commissioned films by COUSIN artists, sharing a survey of their aesthetic vision with diverse audiences. These works embody COUSIN’s ethos and represent a robust and provocative array of films by Indigenous artists involved in experimental and avant-garde cinema.

Pool Boy, Lyle Cash

Object (im)Permanence

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 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. Curated by Andrew Robbins and Kai Tillman.

Open My Glade, Pipilotti Rist

Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series presents Pipilotti Rist

Kind (of a) Talk

Friday 3/26 at 8pm. Recording is available here.

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, a pioneer of spatial video art, has been a central figure within the international art scene since the mid-1980s. Through large video projections and digital manipulation, she has developed immersive, color-vivid installations. With her curious and lavish recordings of nature and her investigative editing, Rist seeks to justify the privileged position we are born within nature, simply by being human. Her installations and exhibition concepts are expansive, finding within the mind, senses, and body the possibility for endless discovery and poetical invention. For Rist, showing vulnerability is a sign of strength from which she draws inspiration. As she herself puts it, “beside the energy-intensive exploration of the geographical world, pictures, films, and sounds have been and are the spaces into which we can escape… The projector is the flamethrower, the space is the vortex, and you are the pearl within.”

DrEAD, Sylvanie Tendron

Sylvanie Tendron: Everyday Obstacles

In 2018, French videomaker Sylvanie Tendron was the first artist to undertake Vidéographe’s research residency for Deaf artists, curators, and researchers. During the course of her residency at Vidéographe, the focus of Tendron’s video research and performative actions was the relationship between audism and feminism. Tendron explores behaviors associated with language and communication. Drawing on her own daily experiences, she exposes, with humor and derision, the misunderstandings, obstacles, and absurd situations that can arise through encounters of difference. In her performance videos she tries to overcome almost farcical difficulties that lead to isolation or confinement, and in so doing illustrates numerous examples of situations in which we try to connect with others by adapting to their language. Curated by Julie Tremble.

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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