We’re living in the dire days of cinematically apocalyptic scenes of emptied store shelves, ordinary people wearing medical masks, abandoned public spaces. Well, OK. Maybe we need independent cinema more than ever, which is why the 58th annual Ann Arbor Film Fest is making this whole self-quarantine thing a lot less miserable by livestreaming the entirety of the festival's programming for free.
The festival, which was expected to take place at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater March 24-29, will now make all of its short and feature films available online through Vimeo — including its juried films in competition, which include experimental, documentary, narrative, and animated films from all over the world. Rather than making everything available at once, however, the AAFF's livestream follows the event's original screening schedule in an attempt to preserve the essence of the festival setting. The moderated Q&A's which were scheduled to take place will also be streamed.
“We did explore options of canceling the festival entirely and rescheduling. We just don't have the resources available to both hold the 58th AAFF while planning for next year's 59th AAFF at the same time,” festival director, Leslie Raymond shared in a statement. “Even though we are 58 years old, we are a tiny organization with a team of three full-time employees, a festival assistant, and a crew of interns. Once we tie up loose ends after the festival week concludes, it does take us the whole year to put the next festival together.”
The festival jurors will still review those films in competition to fulfill their commitment in offering more than $22,000 in awards to filmmakers. This process, too, will undergo some changes. According to the announcement, jurors will be sent a hard drive with the programs arranged as they would have been structured in the theater setting.