59th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival Set to Take Off at the End of March

ann arbor film festival
For Your Eyes Only by Yasmine Nasser Diaz. Image courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is in full swing virtually from March 23 to 28. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s finally March, and that means spring is almost here and the Ann Arbor Film Festival (A2FF) is underway. The A2FF showcases avant-garde, experimental filmmakers from all over the world. These are films made outside the mainstream that push the bounds of film as art, nurturing the vision and voice of thought-provoking filmmakers. While most of the film festival will remain online, there will be some outdoor screenings.

Starting March 3, a part of A2FF called In The Screen will begin showing four installations viewable from the street including For Your Eyes Only by Yasmine Nasser Diaz at U-M Institute For Humanities, One Man’s War by Li Binyuan at 111 South 4th Avenue, An Undue Burden by Jex Blackmore at Ann Arbor Arts Center (Aquarium Gallery), and The Well by Deb Todd Wheeler. Featured artists will showcase their work through performances, installations, and salons. Salon sessions include a variety of workshops, discussions, and demos pertaining to experimental art and film. These sessions will be available to view on the AAFF Eventive page. For more information go to the In The Screen webpage.

The film festival will be held virtually this year, and tickets will be sold through Eventive. An online film festival ensures that all audience members will stay safe but also still enjoy the show!

Feature Film Highlights

A Machine To Live In

A hive-like consciousness scans a space-age metropolis: an unstable landscape of mystical architecture and oneiric technology emerges. From this cosmic dream, the specter of totalitarianism takes form. A Machine to Live In is a sci-fi documentary about the utopian imaginary, set in the Brazilian hinterlands.

Instructions for Survival

Alexandre is a transgender person who has lived with his girlfriend Marie for more than seven years. Because of the mark “female” in his passport and his trans identity, Alexandre cannot find a job and has to lead a secret life. The violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity brings the couple to the decision to leave their homeland. To afford this exodus, Marie signs a contract to be a surrogate mother.

Iwianch, el Diablo Venado

An enigmatic presence haunts the depths of the Amazon rainforest, where an indigenous Achuar teenager has disappeared. During the search for the young man, secrets of the rainforest and Amazonian visions of life after death are touched, vanishing the documentary filmmaker’s concepts of reality.

The Annotated Field Guide of Ulysses S. Grant

For four years in the 1860s, half of the United States was held hostage by an unrecognized white supremacist republic. Shot on 16mm in national military parks, swamps, forests, and the suburban sprawl across the former battlefields, the film follows General Grant’s path to liberating the southern United States. Part travelogue, part essay film, part landscape documentary, it moves from the Texas-Louisiana border to a prison island off the coast of New England. But instead of relying on actors, vintage photos, and the sounds of bullets and explosions, the battles are illustrated with the paper reenactments of hex-and-counter wargames and bubblegum cards from the hobbyist gamer subcultures that have sprung up around the Civil War. The sound and music are inspired by 1970s crime films to celebrate the destruction of the Confederacy with the synth jams they deserve.

A2FF has a variety of passes available. Passes include access to all the festival’s virtual programming including over 100 short films and features in competition, juror programs, special programs, salons, expanded cinema performances as well as Q&As with the filmmakers.

Find out more information and get tickets at passes at the A2FF website.