The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America. Founded in 1963, the AAFF was independent before "independent film," serving as a critical forum for filmmakers to show their creative work outside of the studio film industry. Today the festival continues its strongly independent spirit as a premier showcase for bold, visionary, experimental and high-caliber films.
The AAFF receives more than 2,700 film submissions—of all lengths and genres—from more than 100 countries. The festival awards more than $22,000 to filmmakers, providing direct support to talented and independent artists. Since its inception, the AAFF has provided support and recognition for the early works of thousands of influential filmmakers and artists, including: Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Kenneth Anger, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, George Lucas, Agnes Varda, Vin Diesel, and Devo.
Each year the AAFF presents a traveling tour of award-winning and favorite short films in cities around the U.S. and abroad, providing additional income and exposure to participating filmmakers.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival was recognized in Variety magazine's "Top 10 Festivals We Love" in 2007 for its championing of artists and strong artistic vision. In 2019, it was voted best film festival in North America in the USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest. Also in 2019, MovieMaker magazine named AAFF one of the "50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee." The festival serves as one of a handful of qualifying festivals in the U.S. for the Annual Academy Awards short film category.