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Your Guide to Free Programs at the 59th AAFF

Each year the Ann Arbor Film Festival has a select amount of programs that are free to the public. The 59th AAFF is no exception. Below you will find a list of what will be available, including three juror programs, In The Screen! salons, workshops, installations, and several performances.

Juror Presentations

Still from Anodyne

Juror Presentation: Sheri Wills | What Does Light Remember?

3/24 Wednesday at 1:30pm

Watch here

As a small child, looking at the stars, Sherri Wills wondered: if light from a star takes so long to get here, what does it remember of its journey? How is it changed by its travel? Where does light go, after it can no longer be seen? Questions about the material nature of captured light, in terms of its capacity to hold memories and illuminate small experiences, are central to Wills’s experimental film work. In this program, the physical characteristics of time-based media become a framework for understanding human experience. Wills works with the material qualities of analog film, audio, and digital media. This is combined with historic and contemporary research about how the human visual and auditory systems operate, to examine the gaps between what is measurable in the physical world and what we perceive as experience. Just as peripheral vision is essential to survival, it is by paying attention to the gaps, the margins, and the in-between personal moments that we might gain a fuller understanding of others and of our relationship to what lies outside our immediate perception.


Still from Autumn Fog

Juror Presentation: Lynn Loo | Conversations: Light, Colour, Movement

3/25 Thursday at 1:30pm

This selected program of Lynn Loo’s work focuses on light and color through the medium of film and performance. Using a variety of processes, light and color have been captured, manipulated, and projected. Each work originated on 16mm film and was performed live using two or more 16mm projectors. The performances have since been reworked into the digital forms presented in this program. Some documentary material is also shared to demonstrate the analog processes used. This program features the world premiere of Conversations, a new single-screen digital video by Loo.


Still from Blutrausch (Bloodlust)

Juror Presentation: Thorsten Fleisch | Sensual Destruction: Disintegrating the Frantic Silence of the Universe

3/26 Friday at 1:30pm

A cinematic journey and investigation into materials, surfaces, perception, and higher states of consciousness. With childlike curiosity and wonder, source materials like high voltage, skin, blood, crystals, and the camera itself are picked apart and re-contextualized. Thorsten Fleisch creates hypnotic films that comfortably walk a fine line between pure abstraction, destruction, suggestion, and observation.


In The Screen!

Salons, workshops, performances, installations, and intermedia art

LOOPS 2021 Workshop

3/3 - 3/28

Make your own 16mm film loops with Sean Kenny of the Pickle Fort Film Collective. Mail yours back to the address below and it will be included in the LOOPS 2021 post-screening performance on Saturday at 9pm. You will need: Clear 16mm film leader, and markers. What you might want: ink, glue, anything you can add to the film strip.

Make sure to mail your loops back to the Pickle Fort at the address below!

​The Pickle Fort Film Collective 1141 Hermitage SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506


Film Art Forum

Salon Session

3/23 Tuesday at 3pm

In this Pecha Kucha-style event, ten filmmakers and other festival guests present 20 slides for 20 seconds each, resulting in a series of six-minute talks by film artists. The subject matter varies, with all presentations aiming to promote an in-depth exploration of cinema as an art form and to encourage further discussion that nurtures the AAFF community.



Opening Night Performance

3/23 Tuesday at 9:30pm

Link will be made available before the performance

Live collage cinema and live collage sound! Legendary sound collage group Negativland teams up with legendary live cinema artist SUE-C to bring you a streaming audiovisual performance about our nervous systems, our realities, and the evolving forms of media and technology that inevitably insert themselves between them. Original music, found sounds, uniquely organic visuals, manipulated media, Boopers, and a few surprises are normal to come to your attention.


The Room Presumed by Scott Kiernan


3/24 Wednesday at 9:30pm

Link will be made available before the performance

The Room Presumed utilizes machine learning and real-time video processing to reveal the paradoxes inherent in the ways we speak about “immersive” media. The work is inspired, and the software partially trained on, an early 1980s thought-experiment at Atari in which a group of computer scientists envision “virtual reality” without any of the needed tools to do so. Through this exercise, the subjects become improvisational actors, speaking the roles of “user” and “interface.” Trained on these accounts, The Room Presumed distends and completes their unfinished acts—revealing the strings that support an illusory veneer of a so-called “technological immersion.”


Sonic Escape Routes: Shall We Fly? or Shall We Resist? by Rena Anakwe and Akeema-Zane


3/25 Thursday at 9:30pm

Link will be made available before the performance

Akeema-Zane and Rena Anakwe come together to map a fictive sonic architecture of the ongoing debates among Weeksville residents during the height of the community’s cultivation and, ultimately, its demise. Sonic Escape Routes seeks to explore the following: what is the spiritual core, and where is the liminal space, for a people whose freedom to thrive remains in question? And what are the varying routes that anchor us toward flight or resistance? Through a collaborative sound and visual performance, the artists aim to assert and embed their own personal narratives and histories, in order to traverse the archives of Weeksville, and in doing so answer these questions.


Operation Jane Walk by Robin Klengel and Leonhard Müllner


3/26 Friday at 10pm

Link will be made available before the performance

In Operation Jane Walk, the digital war zone of a video game is appropriated with the help of an artistic intervention. The urban flaneurs avoid combat and become peaceful tourists of a digital world, which is a detailed replica of New York City. Accompanied by two guests, the audience watches the performers promenading in the digital battleground, exploring the possibilities (and impossibilities) of new media technologies. While walking through the post-apocalyptic city, issues such as architecture, history, and urbanism are being discussed. This program is possible thanks to support from the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.


Zoomation Workshop: Animating Connections

Across Social Distances by Christine Veras and Steve Leeper

Salon Session

3/27 Saturday at 1pm

This workshop offers a playful opportunity for participants to exercise social distancing while interacting in a safe collaborative virtual space. This pandemic has forced us all into a new form of digital gathering. As artists and animators, we can break the rules of everyday interactions, creating a virtual animated territory. Join us to create an original piece of experimental animation using pixilation to animate both humans and objects. Pixilation is an animation technique pioneered by Norman McLaren utilizing human animation puppets, giving them fairy-like movements similar to pixies. In this workshop, we will combine pixelation, stop-motion, and time-lapse photography across a Zoom interface to create a truly unique animation experience.


AFTER-DINNER LOOPS 2021 by Pickle Fort Collective

After Party Performance

3/27 Saturday at 9pm

Link will be made available before the performance

Please join us for a multimedia performance by the Pickle Fort Film Collective. Headnotic beats and handmade 16mm film loops are on the menu. After a big meal of wonderfully curated experimental films, we invite you to get up, stretch, imbibe, and DANCE to our concoction of sight and sound designed specifically for an experimental set.


What the Hell Was That

Salon Session

3/28 Sunday at 12pm

This panel discussion has been an Ann Arbor Film Festival favorite for more than a decade. It began when a filmmaker overheard an audience member declare, “What the hell was that?” after viewing his film. An enlightening discussion ensued, and the idea for the panel was born. Join visiting filmmakers and other special guests for an opportunity to watch and discuss three short experimental films selected from this year’s festival lineup. Daniel Herbert is a media scholar and associate professor of the Department of Film, Television, and Media Arts in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan.


CTN interview with Sholey Asgary and Heather Kapplow

Maybe You're a Peach Tree Maybe by Sholey Asgary and Heather Kapplow

Salon Session

3/28 Sunday at 2pm

An ongoing, audience-participatory exploration using prompts, and immersion in sense and process within the context of video-telephonic gatherings to disambiguate image from experience, making space for the unresolved. Lived social experience is indeterminate and has stuff—a sense of timing, nuances of body language, cultural norms—that doesn’t encode into technologically mediated interactions. What’s perceived as noise in digispace is often important information in physical life. Using strategies that bypass conventional communication so gesture, sound, and movement can transmit as it emerges from intuition, our exercises resist their interfaces of transmission, subverting technology’s capacity to contain us. Modeling possibilities and buying time for things beyond current imagination to emerge, we remind ourselves that interfaces can be adapted, broken down, changed if their limitations are made visible.


Behind The Scenes with Negativland and SUE-C

Salon Session

3/28 Sunday at 3pm



After Party Performance

3/28 Sunday at 6:30pm

Link will be made available before the performance

Terrible Tuesday is a weekly audiovisual beatdown that airs on its home base—and we’re bringing it to the AAFF for the first time. Based in Chicago (by way of Detroit), DJ and producer DJ GIRL spins fast-tempo musical madness, while Detroit visual artist GUTTER provides experimental brain-bending live visuals. Let us bring the club to your living room on the most "terrible" day of the week...

DJ GIRL is the baddest b**** in techno bass, serving hard techno and electro beats since 2016. GUTTER is a VJ/visualist from Detroit, Michigan, specializing in experimental video and live performance. Together they run the independent record label EAT DIS.


Ongoing In the Screen! Installations 3/3-3/28

Virtual Gallery in partnership with Saganworks

  • An Imaginary Ruins by Claudia Hart

  • Bamboocene: Memories of Synchronicity by Monika Czyzyk

  • Bot, by Aaajiao

  • Darling, Work 1 and Darling, Work 2 by Michele Monseau

  • Flipped Books by Marie Paccou

  • On a clear day you can see forever by Ian Haig

Installations Viewable From The Street

  • For Your Eyes Only by Yasmine Nasser Diaz | U-M Institute For Humanities

  • One Man’s War by Li Binyuan | 111 South 4th Ave.

  • An Undue Burden by Jex Blackmore | Ann Arbor Art Center

  • The Well by Deb Todd Wheeler | Ann Arbor Art Center


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