Another festival has come and gone. Over 200 films were screened (I personally attended 67). Over $20,000 in prizes were awarded. The festival isn't about the numbers, though, or the money. It's about the experience, the atmosphere, the audience. I've seen hundreds of movies on my couch and in the theater, but the ones I remember most vividly are the ones I had fun watching (midnight screenings of The Room come to mind), and I had a blast watching everything at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Nothing can compare to sitting in a small screening room late at night, waiting for the projector to be repaired, and listening to Phil Solomon talk casually about his creative process, or watching an energetic Barbara Hammer leap onstage and regale the audience with stories from screenings in London and Montreal. The programs were unique, and the films were wonderful, but my favorite part of the festival is the creative energy that seems to gush through the city every year. In addition to all the competition works, visiting filmmakers brought zoetropes and multi-channel video installations that lined storefronts, museums, and theaters all over Ann Arbor, Michigan. Even the Burton Bell Tower had video projected on it all week.
If you missed out on the fun of festival week, fear not! Every year, the Ann Arbor Film Festival goes on the road, taking its award-winning films all over the country. In fact, a local tour stop was how I was first exposed to the festival. The complete tour schedule is available at their website.