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image from an opening animation during the 43rd fest
Ann Arbor Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Ann Arbormarker in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. It is the 2nd oldest film festival in North America and has become one of the premier film festivals for independent and, especially, experimental filmmakers to showcase their work. Now in its 47th year, the Ann Arbor Film Festival attracts over 2,000 entries from filmmakers in more than 30 countries, and distributes over $16,000 in cash awards. As a pioneer of the traveling festival concept in 1964, each year the Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour continues to present a collection of short films at more than 15 theaters, universities and museums throughout the world.

Created as an alternative to commercial cinema, the annual week-long festival remains true to its original goal of promoting film as an art form. The Ann Arbor Film Festival also fosters the growth of emerging and established film and video producers. The festival is open to film and video of all lengths and genres, including experimental, narrative, animation, documentary, and genre hybrids. The festival’s mission is to provide a worldwide public forum for moving image exhibitions, to encourage and showcase artists of the moving image, to promote the moving image as art, and to offer educational outreach. The Ann Arbor Film Festival has become one of the most active film organizations in the country championing artists' rights of expression and free speech.

This year's festival runs March 24-29, 2009.


The Ann Arbor Film Festival was founded in 1963 by University of Michiganmarker professor George Manupelli. Manupelli originally screened only films in the 16 mm format, and thus the festival was called the 16 mm Film Festival. The festival gained prominence quickly, as it was one of the few outlets for experimental filmmakers to screen their work. In 1980 the festival moved from Lorch Hall on the University of Michigan campus to the Michigan Theatermarker, an Ann Arbor landmark with a seating capacity of 1700. In 1983, after becoming independent from the University of Michigan, the festival became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. In 2003 the festival began accepting entries in digital formats, opening up the festival to more filmmakers. In 2007 the festival was named one of Variety magazine's "Top Ten Festivals We Love."

Since its inception, 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.

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