Jury Awards

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is committed to providing direct support to filmmakers. Our 2015 awards competition presents over $21,000 to filmmakers through cash and film stock/processing. Winning an award at the AAFF means not only prestige and financial support, but can also qualify filmmakers for Oscar®-nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the short film category (qualifying awards: Best of Festival, Best Experimental Film, Best Animation, Best Narrative).

Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival
Presented to the film of any genre or length that best represents the artistic standards of excellence for the festival. This award is generously provided by influential documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, a graduate of Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School.

Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
This award is intended to support an emerging filmmaker that the Award Jury expects will make a significant contribution to the art of film in the course of his/her filmmaking career. This award is endowed by the Berman family in honor of the memory of Tom Berman, who was a University of Michigan film student, an early festival supporter and close friend to many within the festival community.

Pat O'Neill Perseverance Furthers award
This award honors the artist whose latest work evidences a remarkable and tenacious commitment against all odds to the craft of filmmaking.

Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental Film
Honoring the film that most successfully showcases the use of experimental processes, forms, and topics. Acclaimed director Gus Van Sant supports this award, as his early short experimental films won awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in the 1980s.

Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film
The best non-fiction film of the festival will receive this award from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who received inspiration from hundreds of films he viewed over the years at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Proceeds from his film, Roger and Me, fund this annual award.

Lawrence Kasdan Award for Best Narrative Film
The narrative film that best makes use of film’s unique ability to convey striking and original stories will receive this award distinction. A notable Hollywood filmmaker, Lawrence Kasdan got his start in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan and continues his connection through support of this festival award.

Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film
Recognizing the animated film that delivers the best style, creativity, and content. This award is given in honor of the spirit of Chris Frayne, a key participant in the festival’s early years, whose approach to life was reminiscent of his colorful cartoon characters. Special thanks to Ann Arbor’s colorful Quack!Media for lead support of this award.

Stan Brakhage Film at Wit’s End Award
For a film artist whose work exemplifies the ideals of the individual creating, through deep personal necessity, a revealing and thought-provoking visual expression of formal innovation and integrity.

The Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Experimental Video Artist
This award provides support to the most promising video artist at the inception of her/his career. Distributed by the Video Data Bank, the award was conceived by the Aronofsky family to honor the late Barbara Aronofsky Latham, a Chicago-based experimental video artist who passed away in 1984.

Prix DeVarti for Funniest Film
Awarded to the film likely to create the most laughs in the festival. This prize honors the 40-year friendship between Dominick’s pub and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and honors the memory of Dominick and Alice DeVarti.

Gil Omenn Art & Science Award
This award honors the filmmaker whose work best uses the art form of film and video to explore scientific concepts, research natural phenomena or embrace real world experimentation. Provided by Gil Omenn who seeks to encourage a positive exchange between the arts and sciences.

The Colorlab / Niagara / ORWO Award for Best Cinematography

$1350 processing, $500 B/W film stock
For the film that demonstrates the highest excellence and creativity in cinematography. The recipient of this award will receive film processing from Colorlab ($750), a full-service motion picture film laboratory and telecine house; and Niagara Custom Lab ($600) the only full-service lab in Canada running the new super 8 negative stocks; as well as film stock from ORWO North America ($500).

Kinetta Handcrafted Film Award
$1000 in film scanning and grading services
For the best handcrafted film of the festival.  This category includes hand-processed films, films shot on 8mm/Super-8/9.5mm film, films shot on reversal film stocks, and films that are hand-drawn or hand-colored.  The recipient of this award will receive $1000.00 in film scanning and grading services from Kinetta Archival, a filmmaker-owned company specializing in bringing handmade films into the digital era without destroying their unique beauty.

PROCAM Best Regional Filmmaker Award
The award supports our top talent in the region. The winner will receive $750 of store credit from PROCAM, a family owned and operated company based in the metro Detroit area. 

The No Violence Award
In the midst of a culture that uses images of violence to entertain and inform, this award is provided to reward the film that consciously or unconsciously best entertains or enlightens without the depiction of violence. Provided by Ann Arbor residents Matthew Graff and Leslie Lawther.

Tios Award for Best International Film
Granted to the film produced outside of the United States which most strongly wins over our Award Jury. This award is provided by Tios Mexican Cafe, serving Ann Arbor since 1986.

Peter Wilde Award for Most Technically Innovative Film
The film which displays the most pioneering, cutting-edge technical innovations will receive this award. Peter Wilde was a long-time projectionist for the festival and master of special effects. This award honors his creativity and pursuit of new techniques.

Leon Speakers Award for Best Sound Design
Given for excellence and originality in sound design; this award is provided by Leon Speakers.

Audience Award
Awarded to the highest-rated audience selected film in competition at this year's festival.

George Manupelli Founder’s Spirit Award
Provided to the filmmaker that best captures the bold and iconoclastic spirt of the founder of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, George Manupelli, whose vision for the festival continues to this day. Supported by the D. DeVarti Family Trust.

The Eileen Maitland Award
This award is to be given to the film that best addresses women’s issues and gives voice to female voices. It was created to honor of the spirit and memory of Eileen Maitland who was a dear friend and long-time supporter of the festival, as well as a patron and practitioner of the arts.

Overture / Wazoo Award for Best Music Video
Provided to recognize excellence in the art form of music video, which serves as a unique collaborative relationship between musician and film/video maker. This award is supported by Ann Arbor’s beloved and independently owned Wazoo Records and Overture Audio.

\aut\FILM Award for Best LGBTQ Film
This award honors the film that best addresses and gives voice to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer (LGBTQ) issues. The \aut\BAR of Ann Arbor contributes this award to promote a diversity of voices that achieve excellence in filmmaking.

Jury Awards
Remaining prize monies that are distributed at the awards jurors’ discretion as special recognition for films of distinction and artistic accomplishment.