The Ann Arbor Film Festival is committed to providing direct support to filmmakers. Our 2016 awards competition presents over $22,000 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 $3,000
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 $2,000
Supports an emerging filmmaker expected, by the jury, to make a significant contribution to the art of film. Contributed by the Berman family in honor of the memory of Tom Berman, who was a student of AAFF founder George Manupelli at the University of Michigan. Tom was an early Festival supporter and close friend to many within the Festival community.
Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film $1,000
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 $1,000
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 $1,000
In recognition of 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.
Best Experimental Film $1,000
Celebrates the film that most successfully showcases the use of experimental processes, forms, and topics.
Stan Brakhage Film at Wit’s End Award $1,000
For a filmmaker who demonstrates the utmost dedication to their individual, creative art practice. A deep and personal necessity drives this artist to make revealing and thought-provoking work in moving image art that embodies both formal innovation and integrity.
The Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Experimental Video Artist $1,000
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.
Gil Omenn Art & Science Award $1000
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.
Prix DeVarti for Funniest Film $1,000
Awarded to the film likely to create the most laughs in the Festival. This prize recognizes the 53-year friendship between Dominick’s pub and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and honors the memory of Dominick and Alice DeVarti. Supported by the D. Devarti Family Trust.
Kodak Cinematic Vision Award Award for Best Cinematography
$2500 in film stock
For the film that demonstrates the highest excellence and creativity in cinematography. The recipient of this award will receive $2500 in film processing stock from Kodak.
PROCAM Best Regional Filmmaker Award $750 in store credit
This award supports our top Michigan talent. The winner will receive $750 of store credit from PROCAM, a family owned and operated company based in the Metro Detroit Area that combines outstanding customer care with a diverse product selection and extremely competitive prices.
The Eileen Maitland Award $600
This award is 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.
The No Violence Award $512
In a culture that relies on images of violence to entertain, this prize is awarded to the film which engages or informs, explores or celebrates life while also rising to the narrative challenge of "No Violence Depicted". Provided to reward the film that best exemplifies themes and images of peace, whether addressing the topic directly or simply turning the mind toward gentleness. No depictions of weaponry or fighting, human or animal suffering, or destructive activities. Provided by Ann Arbor residents Matthew Graff and Leslie Lawther.
Leon Speakers Award for Best Sound Design $500
Given for excellence and originality in sound design. This award is provided by Leon Speakers, custom building high-fidelity home theater speakers in Ann Arbor since 1995.
George Manupelli Founder’s Spirit Award $500
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.
Tios Award for Best International Film $500
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 $500
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. We thank our generous donors for their contributions to the Peter Wilde Award Endowment Fund, which is currently being established: Constance Crump & Jay Simrod, John Nelson & Deb Gaydos, Woody Sempliner, Robert Ziebell & Elizabeth Ward, The LaBour Foundation for Non-Institutional Living, and Glenda Pittman.
Audience Award $500
Awarded to the highest-rated audience selected film in competition at this year’s Festival.
\aut\FILM Award for Best LGBTQ Film $300
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.
Overture/Wazoo Award for Best Music Video $300
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.
Jury Awards $1,500
Remaining prize monies that are distributed at the awards jurors’ discretion as special recognition for films of distinction and artistic accomplishment.