By Suni Jo Roberts
Just over 10,000 people came out to see the experimental and avant garde films of the 55-year annual Ann Arbor Film Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, according the festival’s Executive Director, Leslie Raymond. The films were on view at the Michigan Theatre and in Lorch Hall located on campus at the University of Michigan from March 21-26.
“It was incredible,” Raymond said, 2017 was her third year as the festival’s executive director.
The festival showcases more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction and performance-based works, according to the festival’s website.
Awards were given out the last day of the festival to 22 films that demonstrated excellence in filmmaking. Some of these award winning films included topics on gendered toys and play in “Princessboy” directed by Sosi Chamoun, capitalism in “Commodity City” directed by Jessica Kingdon, parents talking to their children about sex in “The Talk” directed by Alain Delannoy and televangelist preachers in “Sleeping with the Devil” directed by Alisa Yang.
Notable filmmakers such as George Lucas, Gus Van Sant, Agnes Varda and Andy Warhol have exhibited early work in the Ann Arbor Film Festival, which acts as a platform for beginning artists to showcase their work.
Leslie Raymond mentioned the efforts of the Ann Arbor Film Festival to expand upon the programs they offer by expanding their organization.
“We have a new staff member, our Associate Director of Programs, Katie McGowan,” Raymond said. “We work together to bring more variety to the programs.”
David Fulmer, an Ann Arbor resident, and attendee of the film festival for over 15 years enjoyed the films this year.
“It was just as interesting as it’s always been,” Fulmer said.
A film titled “Following Seas” stood out to Fulmer for its documentation of an unconventional family at sea.
“The film was an adventure epic on the high seas and a profile of a very unconventional family who embraced a lifestyle that would probably be unthinkable for most people,” Fulmer said. “It came with unique demands as well as unique satisfactions.”
Fulmer attends many other film festivals in Ann Arbor which occur throughout the year. Fulmer compared those to the AAFF.
“AAFF has films that are usually shorter, more unconventional and more overtly artistic,” Fulmer said.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival sells DVDs of the films shown at the festival on their website, this years’ films will be available this summer.