Established in 1963, this internationally-renowned festival showcases independent and experimental film and video and is the oldest of its kind in North America. Each year the festival attracts entries from artists worldwide and screens more than 100 films. Every year they select a four-hour program of awarded and highlighted films for the Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour that travels around the country from March through December to college classrooms and auditoriums, art theaters, and museums.
Thousands of influential filmmakers have showcased early work at the AAFF, including luminaries such as Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, Lawrence Kasdan, and George Lucas.
The Festival came under fire in 2006 and was used as a mechanism to end all state funding for the arts. The AAFF fought back and won in December 2007. Read all about the ‘Censorship Controversy’. While you’re there read about the the cultural and economic impact that the film festival has on Michigan. As a result of the cuts in funding and censorship attempts the festival nearly went belly up but thanks to the creative folks that work to keep the festival going it survived.
“As part of the Endangered campaign, the volunteers and staff of the Ann Arbor Film Festival performed several Acts of Audacity, which can be viewed here. The acts were chosen by donors, who voted each time they made a contribution.”
ArtFilmTalk.com has an audio interview with Christen McArdle that is worth a listen.
“Christen McArdle is the Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the oldest festival of its kind in North America showcasing avant-garde, documentary and independent films from around the world. We talk about the festival’s fundraising campaign and the censorship controversy the festival has been involved with.”
This year’s festival will feature special programs and guest speakers including Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, cinematographer-filmmaker Ellen Kuras, and artist Steve Kurtz. Larry Flynt will join producer-director Joan Brooker-Marks for the screening of her documentary Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone, which plays on Saturday, March 29 at 7:30pm at the Michigan Theater.
Sunday the festival presents “Made in Michigan” which features 8 films by Michigan based filmmakers.
“The State of Michigan is home to a rich tradition of not just talented artists, but also an incredible breadth and diversity of styles. The films in this program present some of the most creative and colorful voices from the festival’s home state.”
For your viewing pleasure watch part 1 of 6 “2004 Michigan Television Highlight of Ann Arbor Film Festival” produced and directed by Christopher McElroy. Wander over to the AAFF YouTube page for the rest of this show and many other AAFF vids.
For much more on the AAFF, check out aafilmfest.org, the AAFF MySpace Page, the AAFF on Flickr as well as this great set on Flickr by William Couch. You may also want to register on the AAFF B-Side Community Home where you can track the festival buzz, create your personal calendar, rate and review films, and get recommendations for great films at the festival. Registration is not required to view the schedule or film list.. Another site of interest for Michigan film fanatics is MichiganFilm.org, a web site that highlights independent films from Michigan filmmakers and seeks to network those filmmakers and actors together. If you’d like to check out previous years award winners click on over to IMDB for a run down.