The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is hosting its 61st annual festival on March 21-26, 2023. This is your chance to see something new and innovative, expand your creative mind and examine the far boundaries of cinematic exploration! 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. 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. (Film pictured above: Huahua's Dazzling World and its Myriad Temptations | Daphne Xu | Friday 9:00pm)
This year, the festival received nearly 2,800 film submissions, from 95 countries. The field of submissions was narrowed down, through a rigorous, multi-stage screening process, to 108 films in competition.
For the second year, the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be a hybrid event with both in-person and online options for attendees.
Above: The Sick Sense | Brent Coughenour | Wednesday 7:30pm
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. The Full Festival Pass includes access to all programs in-person and online during the 61st AAFF. A Weekend Festival Pass includes in-person admission to the full festival from Friday 3/24-Sunday 3/26. The Online Only Pass includes online access to all in-competition feature films, in-competition short film programs, and juror programs. The higher the pass tier, the more you support the AAFF and their mission of promoting visionary filmmakers. Get your tickets and passes today!
If you want your support to go further, consider becoming an AAFF member. Having an AAFF membership means discounted tickets to the festival, invitations to special members-only AAFF events, and public recognition as a supporter. 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!
Above: Burial | Emilija Škarnulytė | Wednesday 5:00pm
HOW DO I WATCH THE FESTIVAL VIRTUALLY?
In addition to the in-person viewings, the 61st Ann Arbor Film Festival will have an online option for attendees. This online festival will allow the community to experience the festival in the safety of their home, whether in southeast Michigan or abroad! Online passes allows 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 21, 2023, all feature films available for viewing online will be ready for viewing. All juror programs and all shorts in competition will be available at the same time as 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 29. Viewers can stream to a TV from a laptop, using an HDMI cable or by using Chromecast from an Android device.
Above: Dor (Longing) | Jannes Callens | Friday 5:00pm
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE FESTIVAL?
The AAFF started in 1963 by George Manupelli and is now the oldest avant-garde 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.
WHAT DO ALL THE 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 Koyo Yamashita (Japan), Christine Panushka (USA), and Amir George (USA). 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.
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 21
- Reception | 4pm
- Along the Perimeter | presenter - Darrin Martin | 4:30pm
Wednesday, March 22
- Film Art Forum | Lightning rounds | 3pm
- Live Cinema Performances | presenter - Senem Pirler & Monica Duncan, Brent Coughenour, Scott Stark, and Le désert mauve | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium | 7:30pm (ticket required)
Thursday, March 23
- *Online Film Art Forum* | Live online lightning rounds | 10:30am | online or in person
- Exhibition Viewing | Ann Arbor Art Center | 3pm
- May Waves Rise From Its Floor | presenter - Mattieu Hallé | Ann Arbor Art Center | 4pm
Friday, March 24
- Cinema Guild and Campus Film Societies: Their History and Legacy | moderator - Frank Uhle | 3:30pm
- You're Not Listening | presenter - Jeremy Rourke with FIC 8 | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium | 9:30pm (ticket required)
Saturday, March 25
- The Joy of LOOPing | workshop - Pickle Fort Film Collective | 10:30am | North Quad Space 2435
- The Sick Sense, Part 3 | presenter - Brent Coughenour | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium| 9:30am (ticket required)
Sunday, March 26
- What the Hell Was That | moderator - Daniel Herbert | 10:30am
- Bitch, Thunder! | performance by your favorite all-female party drumline | Outside the Michigan Theater | various times starting at 4:30pm
Above: Answering the Sun | Rainer Kohlberger | Sunday 2:30pm
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.
THE 2023 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
All films will be screened in the Main Auditorium or Screening Room of the Michigan Theater, unless otherwise noted.
TUESDAY 3/21 | OPENING NIGHT
- Opening Night Party | 6:30pm | Michigan Theater Grand Foyer
- Films in Competition 1 | 8:15pm | Main Auditorium
- Juror Presentation: Koyo Yamashita | Stories Buried and Unburied | 1pm | FREE | State Theatre 1
- Feature in Competition: Burial | 5pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 2 | 5:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Diòba | 7pm | State Theatre 1
- Special Program: Expanded Cinema Performances | 7:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Special Program: The root and the harvest/La raiz y la cosecha | 9pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 3 | 9:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Juror Presentation: Christine Panushka | Blood of the Family Tree | 1pm | FREE | State Theatre 1
- Feature in Competition: Berbu - The Wedding Parade | 5pm | State Theatre 1
- Penny Stamps Speaker Series: Sam Green / 32 Sounds | 5:30pm | FREE | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Special Program: Remembrance/Vacancy: The Films of Edward Owens | 7pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 4 | 7:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Special Program: Radical Curiosity: Short Films by Sam Green (2000–2021) | 9pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 5: Out Night | 9:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Juror Presentation: Amir George | The Romare Marquee | 1pm | FREE | State Theatre 1
- Feature in Competition: Dor (Longing) | 5pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 6 | 35mm + 16mm | 5:30pm | University of Michigan SKB 2500
- Special Program: Celluloid Body | 7pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 7 | 7:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Huahua’s Dazzling World and its Myriad Temptations | 9pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 8: Animation | 9:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature Film: Weekend | 11pm | State Theatre 1
- Feature in Competition: Up the River with Acid | 1pm | University of Michigan SKB 2500
- Films in Competition 9: Almost All Ages (6+) | 1:30pm | $6 | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Darkness, Darkness, Burning Bright | 3pm | University of Michigan SKB 2500
- Films in Competition 10 | 3:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Adieu Sauvage | 5pm | State Theatre 1
- Feature in Competition: Kapr Code | 5:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Special Program: MFW Decades | 7pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 11 | 7:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition: Super Natural | 9pm | State Theatre 1
- Films in Competition 12 | 9:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
SUNDAY 3/26 | 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: I have not been afraid of going blind for a long time | 12pm | State Theatre 1
- Special Program: Life ⇋ Ritual ⇋ Cinema | The Experimental Films of Donald Richie | 12:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Feature in Competition:Answering the Sun | 2:30pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Special Program: Between Resilience and Resistance | 3pm | State Theatre 1
- Festival Award Celebration
- Awards 1 | 5:00pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
- Awards 2 | 7:00pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
Above: Super Natural | Jorge Jácome | Saturday 9:00pm
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.
- Ann Arbor Art Center | Christopher Pavsek, Troy Ramos, Alexandre Roy, Lilan Yang
- Michigan Theater and State Theatre | Joel Swanson
- North Quad 2435 | Darrin Martin, David Opdyke, Dawn Roe, New Voices
Above: Kapr Code | Lucie Králová | Saturday 5:30pm
WHAT IF I WANT TO DO MORE THAN JUST ATTEND THE FESTIVAL?
Our volunteers help make the Ann Arbor Film Festival possible. In exchange for your time and talent, volunteers earn AAFF tickets & passes! If you would like to help support the festival, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like our content?
Get all of the latest Ann Arbor happenings delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
Follow Destination Ann Arbor, @AnnArbor on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter