62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival Stays Hybrid

A graphic for the Ann Arbor film festival.

The 62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) begins March 26, running until March 31 for in person audiences, while continuing until April 7 online. This annual Festival, which began in 1963, offers a hybrid format, making it more accessible to view the showcased films. 

Ann Arbor Film Festival Director, Leslie Raymond, explains the three main components of the AAFF.

Films in competition 

“Films in Competition” programming is what the Festival is most known for.  This year, 110 films will be shown in competition, from the 2,971 total submissions received from 92 countries.

Themed competitive programs include “Out Night,” Thursday, March 28 at 7:30pm at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater. Other themed programs include: Music Videos, 35mm and 16mm formats, Animation and Almost All Ages (6+)

Special programs

The festival hosts “Special Programs,” which AAFF community members curate based on current trends in film. 

One special program, “Playing Footsi: Ann Arbor Filmmakers of the 1960s–1980s”, curated by Frank Uhle, screens on Friday, March 29 at 9 pm at the State Theatre,  spotlighting AAFF filmmakers Tom Berman, Chris Frayne, Peter Wilde, and George Manupelli, all of whom now have AAFF awards named for them.

Off the screen

Several performances and installations occur off screen.

Laura D. Gibson, a Detroit based artist, presents “Dope Women in Media: Honoring the Women of Film in Metro Detroit.” “I want to put women and women filmmakers in Detroit on a platform. I reached out to the film festival to produce the show (and) was amazed to hear them wanting to accept a show like this,” Gibson explains, adding, “ I’m greatly looking forward to it.”

Gibson hopes this show connects Ann Arbor artists and filmmakers with those in Detroit.

Hybrid format

A photo of 2 people in work outfits.

After the pandemic, the AAFF decided to continue with a hybrid format, offering both online and in-person options. AAFF Deputy Director Scott Boberg relates that, “The hybrid nature of our festival is meshing with people’s schedules and people’s needs and their desire to connect with what we show.”

Boberg explains that the AAFF is a great opportunity for film enthusiasts to meet and socialize. “The week of the in-person Festival is a real celebration of creativity and filmmaking, outside the big studio system, and I really love the quirkiness of it,” he adds. 

The Festival’s Opening Night Party, a ticketed event, is Tuesday, March 26 from 6:30-8pm in the Michigan Theater Grand Foyer. Access to “Films in Competition 1” is included in the admission fee for the Opening Night Party. 

For more information and ticket purchasing, visit aafilmfest.org

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Drew Saunders is a freelance business and environmental journalist who grew up just outside of Ann Arbor. He covers local business developments, embraces his foodie side with reviews restaurants, obsesses over Michigan's environmental state, loves movies, and feels spoiled by the music he gets to review for Ann Arbor!