Ann Arbor Film Festival Awards
After months of uncertainty, the year-round incarnation of the Traverse City Film Festival has finally kicked off. TCFF Tuesdays will run in fall, winter and summer, and feature the same edgy mix of fare that made the original festival famous.
The Michigan Student Film & Video Festival is the oldest in the country offering public recognition to young filmmakers from grades K-12. Thousands of influential filmmakers have showcased their early work at the festival including Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono and George Lucas.
The History of the Festival
The Ann Arbor Film Festival has a long history of introducing audiences to avant-garde and experimental films. The Festival has also been a pioneer of the traveling film festival tour, presenting short programs at theaters and universities around the world.
AAFF is internationally known as a forum for artist-made moving image art and has provided early exposure to thousands of filmmakers. The Festival has a rich legacy of boundary-blurring works and continues to explore new cinematic frontiers each year.
The Festival offers a diverse selection of short films covering topics such as family, identity, culture, inspiration and society. This is an Academy Award(r)-qualifying event for the Short Film category.
The Ken Burns Award
The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize honors late-stage, feature-length American history documentary films that use archival materials and storytelling to teach people about our country’s past. The national prize, established in 2019 and made possible by the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation, is administered by the Better Angels Society in partnership with the Library of Congress.
Iconic documentarian Ken Burns (The Civil War, Baseball, The National Parks) has long been committed to the idea that America needs to revisit its own history if it is to continue its journey toward greater racial equality. The winner of the prize will be selected by Library of Congress Director Carla Hayden and filmmaker Ken Burns.
Hollywood film producer Lawrence Kasdan graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and keeps a connection with the festival through his support of this award, which recognizes a feature length documentary that exemplifies the work of Ken Burns.
The Lawrence Kasdan Award
Presented by a generous gift from local supporters, this award celebrates the work of a filmmaker whose film explores the world of science and nature through images and sound. This year the jury selected the film that best succeeds in telling a compelling story without resorting to violence.
Screenwriter and producer Lawrence Kasdan made his mark with the 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard, and continued to impress audiences with western epic Wyatt Earp and the Meg Ryan comedy French Kiss. Kasdan is a longtime friend of the festival and will share some personal insights about his career in an intimate conversation with AAFF co-presenter Ben Mankiewicz.
This award is supported by an endowment fund established by the DeVarti Family. It honors the 57-year friendship between Dominick’s pub and the festival and was created in memory of Chris Frayne, an early AAFF supporter.
The Terri Schwartz Award
The Terri Schwartz Award is given to the film that most successfully utilizes the tools of satire and parody. This award honors the spirit of Terri P. Schwartz (1952-2021), a University of Michigan alumna who embraced creativity and empathy throughout her life. She was particularly fond of the arts of film and world music, and treasured her friendships and experiences in immigrant communities.
The Peter Wilde Award is given to the film that best demonstrates creative and technical innovation. This award was established by generous contributions from friends of longtime projectionist Peter Wilde.
Presented by the City of Ann Arbor and DAFT, this award honors students in grades K-12 for their efforts in filmmaking. This is a great opportunity for young people to get their work seen by the community.
The Peter Wilde Award
The award named for longtime festival projectionist and master of special effects honors his creativity and pursuit of new techniques. This prize honors the film that displays the most pioneering technical innovations. Generous donors have contributed to the Peter Wilde Award Endowment Fund, which is nearing its goal of full endowment. The festival is especially grateful to Bill Davis and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation for its Stern Legacy Challenge matching grant, which enabled us to reach this milestone.
The award honors a filmmaker whose work best engages audiences through the art of cinema, without resorting to depictions of violence. This category was generously sponsored by the Michigan Credit Union and is awarded to a film that strongly impresses the Awards Jury.