59th Ann Arbor Film Festival Goes Virtual Again

By: Aaron Cohen | March 17, 2021

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Film Festival.

March 23-28, worldwide cinephiles descend upon our state (virtually) for the 59th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival. Founded in 1963, it is the oldest avant-garde film festival in North America and internationally recognized as a premier forum for independent filmmakers and artists.

Over the course of six days, AAFF will present 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of varying lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction and performance-based work.

It’s an elite forum. Countless influential filmmakers and artists have showcased early work at AAFF, including Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol and George Lucas. The festival receives an excess of 3,000 submissions per year from more than 65 countries and is one of a select group of Academy Award-qualifying festivals. It awards more than $22,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.

Partnered with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), the 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival features a slew of pre/post-screening events, including filmmaker retrospectives, gallery installations and panel discussions. It’s an opportunity to learn from artists at the forefront of their mediums and gain insight into the processes that culminate in the works we experience on screen.

For decades, AAFF featured works filmed solely on 16mm film. While the festival has expanded beyond that medium, it remains committed to the exhibition of this medium.

In keeping with last year’s response to the pandemic, this year’s festival will also be conducted virtually through the online platform, Eventive. Viewers can create an account through the platform, or sign in via their personal Facebook account. Short Films in Competition will be live-streamed during their specific time slot and then be available for on-demand viewing any time until March 31. Features in Competition will be available on-demand from the start of the festival until the end of the month.

In an effort to retain the comradery of in-person viewing, AAFF has introduced In the Screen! – a virtual gallery space presented by Saganworks. In the Screen! will include live expanded cinema performances streaming worldwide, engaging salon sessions to help audiences learn and connect, and installations viewable from the street in Ann Arbor.

Tickets can be purchased in three tiers – the most basic costs $50 and includes online access to the entire festival lineup. The higher levels, at $75 and $150, respectively, include a donation to the festival and discounted rates in the online shop.

For more information relating to tickets and programming, visit aafilmfest.org.