The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is hosting its 60th annual festival on March 22-27, 2022. One of a few Academy Award–qualifying festivals in the United States, the AAFF is offering both a virtual and in person option for attendees this year. Founded in 1963, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest independent and experimental film festival in North America and is internationally recognized as a premier forum for film as an art form.
This year, the festival received over 2,800 film submissions, from over 90 different countries. The field of submissions was narrowed down, through a rigorous, multi-stage screening process, to include nearly 150 films. View the 60th festival schedule here.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival was voted the #1 film festival in North America in a USA TODAY reader’s poll in 2019 and 2020. This is your chance to see something new and innovative, expand your creative mind and examine the far boundaries of cinematic exploration. And you have the choice of how you’d like to view the festival, whether that be from the comfort of your own home or the excitement of the theater!
Below, we have answered some of the most common questions about how to experience the 60th Ann Arbor Film Festival.
- 60 years? What is the history of the festival?
- Are there any firsts for the 2022 festival?
- Where do I buy tickets and passes?
- How do I watch the festival virtually?
- What health and safety precautions is the AAFF taking?
- What do all these program titles mean?
- Who decides which films receive which awards?
- Are the films appropriate for all ages?
- Are there art installations like in previous years?
- What’s the best way to learn about experimental film during festival week?
- What’s on the AAFF schedule?
- What if I want to do more than just attend?
60 YEARS? WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE FESTIVAL?
The AAFF started in 1963 by George Manupelli and is now the oldest avant-garde and film festival in North America. It started as a critical venue for alternative filmmakers and artists to share their work. The AAFF has always focused on film art, serving as one of the country’s premier forums for bold, visionary, experimental and avant-garde filmmakers.
The festival is renowned for introducing the world to pioneering work, including the early films of Kenneth Anger, Brian DePalma, Devo, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Agnes Varda, and Andy Warhol.
ARE THERE ANY FIRSTS FOR THE 2022 FESTIVAL?
For the first year ever, the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be a hybrid event with both in-person and online options for attendees. The AAFF is excited to offer an in-person festival for the first time since 2019, while also providing online options for those who feel more comfortable, or have no choice, but to attend from the comfort of their own home anywhere around the world.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is proud to continue to pay artists to screen their films for a second year in a row, continuing to pave the way to recognize all artists - not just award winners - who create work for film festivals. AAFF is also doubling the amount paid in 2021, fulfilling a goal Festival Director Leslie Raymond committed to at the 59th AAFF.
Salidas, Michael Fetter Nathansky | Germany | 8:15pm Tuesday
WHERE DO I BUY TICKETS AND PASSES?
Festival-goers can get their tickets on the Ann Arbor Film Festival website where the link to buy is now available. Options for Online Only, Full Festival and Weekend Festival are available with prices ranging from $60-125. Get your tickets and passes today!
The higher the pass tier, the more you support the AAFF and their mission of promoting visionary filmmakers. A Full Festival Pass includes access to all programs in-person and online during the 60th AAFF. A Weekend Festival Pass includes in-person admission to the full festival from Friday 3/25 - Sunday 3/27. The Online Only Pass includes online access to all in-competition feature films, in-competition short film programs, and juror programs.
If you want your support to go further, consider becoming an AAFF member. Having an AAFF membership means discounts, tickets to the festival, invitations to special members-only AAFF events, and public recognition as a supporter of the AAFF. Memberships start at $30 and help us build a sustainable future for our festival.
If you are planning on getting a festival pass, consider joining at the 16mm level or higher, where festival passes are included in your membership!
HOW DO I WATCH THE FESTIVAL VIRTUALLY?
The 60th Ann Arbor Film Festival will have an online option for attendees. This online festival will allow the AAFF community to experience the festival in the safety of their home, whether in southeast Michigan or abroad! Online passes will allow access to in-competition films and juror programs as well as an online film forum on Saturday, March 26th, and filmmaker interviews.
Beginning on March 22, 2022, all feature films available for viewing online will be ready for viewing. All juror programs and shorts in competition will be available following their screening at the Michigan Theater.
All films available on our online platform will be available for on-demand viewing until 11:59pm ET on March 31. Viewers can stream to a TV from a laptop, using an HDMI cable or by using Chromecast from an Android device.
elephant, Maria Judice | San Francisco, CA | 3:15pm Sunday
WHAT HEALTH AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS IS THE AAFF TAKING?
To ensure a safe festival for everyone, we will be enforcing our COVID-19 protocols (masking and proof of vaccination) at every stage of our festival. View the festival safety protocols here. The in-person festival will adhere to Michigan Theater and U-M covid protocols, which are currently masking and asking for proof of vaccination. Keep up-to-date at michtheater.org/covid-safety-plan & campusblueprint.umich.edu/faqs
What We Shared, Kamila Kuc | Country of Georgia | 1:15pm Sunday
WHAT DO ALL THESE PROGRAM TITLES MEAN?
We show a LOT of content during the week of the festival. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate everything we have to offer!
- Films in Competition: short film programs built from films submitted to our festival this year. Short films are all less than 60 minutes (usually less than 20 minutes), and each program will have anywhere from 6-14 films.
- Features in Competition: programs that either consist of a single feature film (60 minutes or longer), or a feature and a short film that were submitted to the festival this year (if a program includes a paired feature and short, the films may relate to each other, but have not been submitted together by the same filmmaker).
- Special Programs: specially curated programs of films that have not been submitted for award consideration this year, but instead were built around a thematic idea by friends and artists of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
- Off The Screen! (OTS!): new media, video, live performance, and art installations that are either ongoing during festival week or happen at a specific time.
- Speaker Series: panel discussions, workshops, and presentations by friends and artists of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
WHO DECIDES WHICH FILMS RECEIVE WHICH AWARDS?
Each year, the AAFF invites 3 distinguished artists to judge and award deserving films. This year, the jurors will be Mariam Ghani (Afghanistan), Gina Kamentsky (USA), and Thomas Renoldner (Austria). Each juror will also present a specially curated program of work during the festival.
The short films, included in the Films in Competition programs and Features in Competition, are eligible for the $23,000 conferred in awards. The AAFF directly supports independent filmmakers by giving awards for films that might not find commercial distribution. The awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, March 27, the closing night of the festival.
ARE THE FILMS APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AGES?
The films are not rated and some material may be more appropriate for adult audiences, unless otherwise noted. Some films are family friendly. Some need an adult perspective, even if the medium is animation. The Films in Competition 10, Almost All Ages program on Saturday, March 26 at 1:15pm, is best suited for a wide variety of viewers over 6 years of age.
ARE THERE ART INSTALLATIONS LIKE IN PREVIOUS YEARS?
Yes! There are several in-person Off The Screen! (OTS!) installations around Ann Arbor that are free and open to the public.
111 S 4th Avenue
Viewable from the street
- Thunder scene | Vijay Masharani
Ann Arbor Art Center (AAAC)
117 West Liberty Street
Viewable from the street
- Inside the Box (Outside the Box) | Jeremy Liesen & Matt Wilken | Aquarium Gallery
- Metamorphism | Manda Moran | Liberty Street Window
U-M North Quad Space 2435
105 South State Street
Tuesday-Sunday 10am–6pm, Thurs 10am-12pm
- Sign Stealing | Megan Young
- OPTX.drips | Maxime Corbeil-Perron
- Uku Pacha | Diego Bonilla
- New Voices | College and University student work
- Deep Sophia | Yvette Granata
603 East Liberty
- Four Dreams | Natalia Rocafuerte
- Amalgamate! | Alexandra McDonald
- Persistent Wave | Noel Stupek
- What We Saw | Everyone
U-M Institute for the Humanities Gallery
202 S Thayer St #1111
- How to Build a Disaster Proof House | Tracey Snelling
U-M Stamps Gallery
201 S Division St
Wed - Sat 11 am – 5 pm
- Close but Not Touching | MFA exhibition
Tank Fairy, Erich Rettstadt 雷利 | Taiwan | 7:30pm Thursday
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO LEARN ABOUT EXPERIMENTAL FILM DURING FESTIVAL WEEK?
We’re excited to share a number of panel discussions and workshops at North Quad Space 2435 (unless otherwise noted) during the week! All of our speaker series events are free and open to the public.
Tuesday, March 22
- Film Art Forum | moderator - Caitlin Mayernik | 3pm
Wednesday, March 23
- Where The Rubber Meets the Road: Cinematic Mobility and the American Dream | presenter - Bryan Konefsky | 1pm
- Shifting Perspectives | Emily Martin and Sean Donovan | 1:35pm
Thursday, March 24
- Rooted Not Retro Redux | moderator - Gerry Fialka | 1pm
Friday, March 25
- Looking to the Future: University Engagement & the Next Generation | panel | 10am
- Experimental Media in the 21st Century | moderator - Joey Lopez | 11am
- Tales on Tape | presentation - Lydia Lunch and Joseph Keckler| 1pm
Saturday, March 26
- *Online Film Forum* | pecha-kucha-style presentations | 9am | aafilmfest.org
- Sign Stealing | workshop - Megan Young | 11am
Sunday, March 27
- Speakers, Filmmakers, and Film Enthusiasts Mixer | reception | 11am
- What the Hell Was That | moderator - Daniel Herbert | 11:45am
Ten Questions for Henry Ford, Andy Kirchner | Ann Arbor & Dearborn, MI | 5:15pm Saturday
THE AAFF SCHEDULE
All programs are presented in Eastern Standard Time (ET). The Full Festival Pass includes access to all programs in-person and online during the 60th AAFF. A Weekend Festival Pass includes in-person admission to the full festival from Friday 3/25 - Sunday 3/27. View the complete 60th festival schedule here.
All ticket prices are $12 for the general public, $8 for students, members, and seniors unless otherwise noted (tickets for the Almost All Ages program, for example, are $6 for everyone).
All films will be screened in the Main Auditorium or Screening Room of the Michigan Theater, unless otherwise noted.
TUESDAY 3/22 | OPENING NIGHT
- Films in Competition 1 | 8:15pm | Main Auditorium - Includes a performance of Patty’s Infernal by Pat Oleszko
- Juror Presentation: Mariam Ghani | Surpassing Disaster | 3pm | FREE | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: Rising Sun Blues (Rua dos Anjos) | 5pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 2: Music Videos | 5:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Special Program: Gates of Horn and Ivory | 7pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 3 | 7:15pm | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: Biopic (or Charles Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée) | 9pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 4 | 9:15pm | Main Auditorium - Includes a live cinema performance of Spectral Landscape by Luis Macias
Spectral Landscape, Luis Macias | Spain | 9:15pm Wednesday
- Juror Presentation: Thomas Renoldner | Many roads on the way to Funny Avant-garde | 3pm | FREE | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: Looking for Horses | 5pm | Screening Room
- Penny Stamps Speaker Series: Lydia Lunch / No Wave | with Joseph Keckler | 5:30pm | FREE | Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Rock Bottom Riser | 7pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 5: Out Night | 7:30pm | Main Auditorium
- Special Program: A Lantern Through Your Labyrinth: Out Histories at the Ann Arbor Film Festival | 9:15pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 6 | 9:30pm | Main Auditorium
- Juror Presentation: Gina Kamestky | That Went Fast | 3pm | FREE | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: The Afterlight | 5pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 7 | 5:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Special Program: Sadie Benning: Pixelvisions | 7pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 8 | 7:15pm | Main Auditorium - Includes a live performance of Spoken Word Performance by Lydia Lunch
- Feature in Competition: Fragile | 9pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 9: Animation | 9:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Feature Film: Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over (2019) | 11pm | State Theatre 1
- Live A/V performance | Mystic Fire Visuals | 11pm | Club Above the Heidelberg
- Feature in Competition: Shari | 1pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 10: Almost All Ages (6+) | 1:15pm | $6 | Main Auditorium
- Special Program: A Mind-Bending Education: 30+ Years of Interns at AAFF | 3pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 11 | 3:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Archipelago | 5pm | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: Ten Questions for Henry Ford | 5:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Special Program: At the Half Century Mark: Celebrate Early Productions from Women Make Movies | 7pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 12 | 7:15pm | Main Auditorium - Includes a live performance of Musical Performance by Joseph Keckler
- Special Program: AAFF x Video Data Bank: Medium Meet Medium | 9pm | Screening Room
- Films in Competition 13 | 9:15pm | Main Auditorium
SUNDAY 3/27 | CLOSING NIGHT | AWARDS
The closing night of the festival offers two programs of select award-winning films, as chosen by this year’s panel of three distinguished AAFF jurors.
- Feature in Competition: Experimental Curator: The Sally Dixon Story | 1pm | Main Auditorium - To be followed by a program of historic work that has been shown at past AAFFs by filmmakers featured in this film
- Feature in Competition: What We Shared | 1:15pm | Screening Room
- Feature in Competition: elephant | 3:15pm | Screening Room
- Feature Film: Dr. Chicago (1971) | 3:30pm | Main Auditorium - Directed by AAFF Founder George Manupelli
- Awards 1 | 6pm | Main Auditorium
- Awards 2 | 8pm | Main Auditorium
Patch, Wei Huang | China | 5:15pm Wednesday
WHAT IF I WANT TO DO MORE THAN JUST ATTEND?
Whether you’ve volunteered every year or have never volunteered before, we need your help! Our volunteers help make the Ann Arbor Film Festival possible. In exchange for your time and talent, volunteers earn AAFF tickets & passes! If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sign up for general volunteer work - use this Volunteer Local link.
- Sign up to offer housing for visiting filmmakers - use this housing form.
- Sign up to volunteer as a driver for filmmakers - use this driver form.
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