A New Age: We Are America

Everyone is Welcome.
Bring Friends. Bring Family. Bring You.

A Word From Our Executive Director:

Now, more than ever, let us exercise our right to declare who we are, to profess how we are, to articulate what we desire, and to describe the ways that we are both different and the same as others.

Is this our inalienable right? Or are we better off conforming to sameness, where our only choice is which product to buy or country club to join?

For 55 years the Ann Arbor Film Festival has been a home for free speech. We hold a space to relay a wide range of stories about ourselves and our human-ness-- and to talk freely about it with each other. AAFF was born of a counterculture that championed the human capacity for tolerance and inclusion for every individual. Our artist-founder George Manupelli espoused these values as he created the Festival, with respect for the full variety of human experience.

His embrace of the body, sex and nudity – as intimated in his poster design sensibility – was an endorsement of freedom of expression. Is authority over one's own physical body a right or a privilege? Either way, it requires a tacit agreement of respect, maturity and discipline. The growing prison industrial complex and pressure to revoke women's right to choose are examples of constraints upon this ideal.

We hold these truths to be self evident. Or are they? Aren't we created equal and don't we share certain inalienable rights? Many people on the planet (America included) do not share these rights to a small or large degree. Let us not take our freedom for granted. And if it is in peril, let us exercise it while we are still able. Let us celebrate our right to say and be who we are.

Mortal existence is nuanced, complex, messy and glorious. At the AAFF, we share movies of all kinds from reports of onerous truths and accounts of imagined new worlds to tales that simply envelop us in aesthetic experience and carry us off into the land of poetic abstraction.

Are these expressions ours to share? We invite you to celebrate and cherish with us the freedom that we do have, in these uncertain times, and to question whether we should maintain this value upon which our Film Festival – and our nation – was founded. 

Leslie Raymond
Executive Director

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