I most recently returned from a US trip in which I attended the Ann Arbor Film Festival. This was my first time attending and it was a great experience! The festival arranges stays with local residents, which I think all festivals should do. My host also happened to be a talented animator/filmmaker with a film in the festival, Heidi Kumao. It was really great to be able to meet her and all the other filmmakers in attendance.
My short One Night in Florida was screening in the only animation-specific program in the festival. The rest of the films were high quality, and the auditorium was packed to the gills. There were some good questions from the audience too, which is not normally the case for this short one minute film. I got the feeling that the audience was more prepared for unconventional storytelling formats. This was also reflected in the rest of the programming throughout the festival. I learned a lot about experimental film!
One of the films that sticks with me is Line of Apsides by Julie Murray. This silent 16mm film from 2014 looked through a microscope at various plants, cells or organisms, and the focus changes between the foreground and background were very engaging.
There were a few more films that I underlined in my program, but sadly they are not well represented online so I cannot remember what they looked like nor share them with you here. It seems to be a trend amongst the films at this festival that they are not well represented online, either either stills, a short trailer or clip or just a website for the filmmaker. It sure makes it harder to talk about them to other people!
One I can find online is Jiro Visits the Dentist by Gina Kamentsky. This was a funny piece, but I am mostly inspired by this short Making Of which explains the process:
It goes by fast, but it explains how she painted on 35mm film, but then photographed each frame digitally through Dragon. And here is the final film:
I also really loved Two Ways Down by Portland based animator/artist Laura Heit. As I understand it, this project was originally an installation, and you can find a nice documentation video online showing the shadow play and delicate rotating puppets that create it. But this version that was shown at the festival was a film version of the project that looks really different:
It was a collection of small figures performing looped movements, and scrolling across the screen left to right. The sound design was very apt. I wish I could find a snippet or a trailer to share, but no cigar!
Overall this festival was a really fun experience with good, new films and nice people. If you get a chance to attend, do it!