Nestled into the predictable hustle-and-bustle of a Midwest college town, nearly swallowed by the indifference of overworked students, March Madness, and the encroaching doom of finals, a week-long event brings a lucky glimpse of worldwide talent to Michigan Theatre. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest experimental and avant-garde film festival in North America, reaching all the way back to 1963. Each year, thousands of film submissions compete for less than two hundred spots in the six-day event. As prestigious of an honor it is to even secure a spot in the lineup, AAFF competitors are even eligible to qualify for Academy Awards, illuminating a world of possibility beyond the big screens. This showcase of creative talent annually sets up shop in our own backyard at the Michigan Theatre, so why not make the walk to witness a couple of hours of rare genius? The week of film screenings extends from March 22nd to the 27th; each day features a schedule of special screenings and “Films in Competition” that compete for awards. The festival wraps up on Sunday with screenings of the winning films. Attendees can choose from a range of events to attend, from experimental shorts to animated features and grim documentaries. There’s something for everyone at AAFF.
I am attending the third night of film screenings on Thursday the 24th, specifically the special program titled A Lantern Through Your Labyrinth: Out Histories of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. This program focuses on experimental LGBTQ cinema throughout the film festival’s history; going into this with very little knowledge of the film festival or its queer artists, I hope to be enlightened about the intersectionality of film and its role in this distinguished event.
Student tickets are only $8 for any event of your choice! Find more information, buy tickets, and view the full schedule at https://www.aafilmfest.org/.