One of the premier cultural events in Michigan, the Ann Arbor Film Festival -- which runs Tuesday, March 23 through Sunday, March 28 -- is set to begin its 48th annual presentation of independent and experimental film, the longest-running gathering of its kind in North America. On Tuesday, the popular opening night reception kicks off the proceedings, inside the Michigan Theatre, from 6-8pm. Following will be the initial festival screening, a collection of short films designed to offer audiences a vivid snapshot of the creativity that will ensue over the next five days.
Themed programs and special guests abound on a highlights-filled schedule, which also includes panels, lectures, and after-parties. Each of this year's acclaimed jurors has their own presentation (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 1pm), and will choose what they deem the best films of the 2010 festival, to whom awards will be given in two programs that close out the festival on Sunday night.
As was true of the 2009 AAFF, I had the pleasure to work as a volunteer pre-screener, helping Executive Director Donald Harrison and his top-flight staff pore through 2,500 submissions from visionary filmmakers across the U.S. and around the world. 170 films representing more than 20 countries made the final cut, and include animation, narrative works, music videos, documentaries, experimental visuals, and more. I interviewed Harrison before last year's event, a conversation that explores such topics as his vision for the festival and what first-time attendees can expect.