The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is pleased to announce the 18th annual Out Night at the upcoming 57th festival (March 26–31, 2019). Out Night films will screen on Thursday, March 28, at 7:15 p.m. in the Main Auditorium of the Michigan Theater (603 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor). A Q+A session with filmmakers will immediately follow.
This year’s Out Night films focus on recurring themes of memory and community and historical belonging, said guest programmer Sean Donovan, a doctoral student in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. The program also “provides a lot of rich reflection on what it is like to be an LGBTQ maker in 2019 and a media consumer,” Donovan said. All of the internationally curated films on Out Night explore LGBTQ themes.
“To have [Out Night] be part of a film festival that isn’t specifically tied to the queer community…is a really great opportunity,” said Donovan, who previously served as a programmer for the annual Washington, D.C.–based LGBTQ film festival Reel Affirmations.
As an extension of the Out Night program on March 28, the Ann Arbor Film Festival will also screen Shu Lea Cheang’s 2017 film Wonders Wander at 9:00 p.m. in the Michigan Theater Screening Room as a feature film in competition. Made for Madrid Pride 2017, Wonders Wander is a location-based mobi-web-serial with four fictional episodes set in Spain’s capital city. Departing from the city’s Malasaña Barrio – which became known as Maravillas (Wonders) during the 1980s countercultural movement known as La Movida Madrileña – Wonders Wander takes the wonders out of Malasaña to explore the off-the-mainstream nouveau queer generation.
Along with the hour-long Wonders Wander, the 9:00 p.m. screening on Thursday, March 28, will present the world premiere of Succulent humans #3 – 多汁的人类 – a 10-minute film made in 2018 by Luciano Zubillaga and Dew Kim. Made in the United Kingdom, Argentina, China, and South Korea, Succulent humans follows a mysterious camaraperson who is stalking queer performer hornyhonydew (aka artist Dew Kim). The journey leads viewers into another dimension of spacetime, where narrative is replaced by telepathic voices about aliens, sexual monsters, and the queerest of battles. The sound script for Succulent humans is by Zuo.
A panel of three distinguished jurors will award $22,500 in cash and in-kind prizes to filmmakers for work screened at the festival this year. One of the 22 awards is the \aut\ FILM Award for Best LGBTQ Film, conferring $300 for the film that best addresses and gives voice to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer issues. Longtime AAFF supporters Martin Contreras and Keith Orr, owners of Ann Arbor’s \aut\ BAR, support the festival’s \aut\ FILM Award to highlight the diversity of voices achieving excellence in filmmaking.
Winners Night will be held on Sunday, March 31, with an onstage announcement of award-winning films from the 57th festival at 6:00 p.m. and screenings of the films at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The all-female party drum line Bitch, Thunder! of Toledo, Ohio, will perform on Winners Night in the Grand Foyer of the Michigan Theater starting around 5:30 p.m.
The festival extends its thanks to the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender for serving as an education partner to the AAFF for the screening of Wonders Wander and to the LGBT Resource Center at Eastern Michigan University for being a community partner for Out Night.
Out Night films at the 57th AAFF will include:
By Jordan Wong
The filmmaker presents a nonfiction reflection on being out of the closet. “It has taken me a long time to be as comfortable as I am through navigating forms of intimacy, gender, and self-worth. It doesn’t always get better, but you’re beautiful however you decide to present – including the choice of garments you decide to wear.” – JW
Produced in: Los Angeles, CA | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 6 minutes | Format: DCP
Both Kathy Acker’s writing and a seminal portrait of her taken by intersex photographer Del LaGrace Volcano provide a lens through which to explore trans subjectivity and the queering of cinema. Pol Merchan’s hybrid doc fluidly moves from the documentation of the punk era to a more performative exploration of gender.
Produced in: Berlin, Germany | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 13 minutes | Format: digital file
Adrian Garcia Gomez
La Mesa explores the intersections of memory, identity, and queer desire. Stories of a childhood in rural Mexico, as told by the filmmaker’s father, are interwoven with queered reenactments featuring the filmmaker as the romantic lead opposite the male actors of the old Mexican films and American Westerns from his childhood.
Produced in: New York, NY | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 10 minutes | Format: digital file
Four teenage girls find their friendship put to the test while suspended high above Beirut on a Ferris wheel. As secrets are revealed and tensions rise, this claustrophobic drama culminates in an unexpected confession.
Produced in: UK/Lebanon | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 9 minutes | Format: digital file
beside the water, 1999–2004
North American Premiere
In this unconventional video essay, queer artist Finn Paul mixes up sexual discovery, community formation, and the isolation of desert landscapes in a collection of erotic snapshots.
Produced in: Los Angeles, CA | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 11 minutes | Format: DCP
Among the daily meetings and mismatches in big urban centers, the construction of big, fancy buildings modifies the architecture of the city and heats up the real estate market. At the same time that condos are raised in this area of enterprise that is valued, people are evicted from inactive spaces. Meanwhile, time engraves its marks.
Produced in: Porto Alegre, Brazil | Year of Production: 2017 | Length of film: 17 minutes | Format: DCP
From underground tunnels, a man named Eddie describes the flood lines and levees of Memphis. In this same city, a recent transsexual transplant watches war films and contemplates masculine connectivity as he attempts to integrate into the South. He posts a Craigslist ad asking men to masturbate on camera with their firearms. He receives a single response from a man whose name is also Eddie.
Produced in: Memphis, TN | Year of Production: 2018 | Length of film: 16 minutes | Format: digital file
About the Ann Arbor Film Festival
Founded in 1963, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest independent and experimental film festival in North America and is internationally recognized as a premier forum for film as an art form. The AAFF typically receives nearly 3,000 film submissions a year from more than 70 countries, and the festival serves as one of a handful of Academy Award–qualifying festivals in the United States. The AAFF is also a pioneer of the traveling film festival tour. Each year the touring programs visit more than 35 theaters, universities, museums, and micro cinemas around the world. The 57th Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place March 26–31, 2019. For more information, please visit aafilmfest.org, and be sure to join AAFF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo.
Major AAFF Partners and Foundation Support
AAFF gratefully acknowledges support from and partnerships with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, which encourages, initiates, and facilitates an enriched artistic cultural and creative environment in Michigan; the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, which supports the media industry in Michigan and helps the state of Michigan become a production destination; the historic Michigan Theater, a vital partner whose beautiful venue serves as the primary location for AAFF events; the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation; and the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, with a mission focused on creative practice as an engine for cultural change and innovation.
Pol Merchan’s Pirate Boys will have its U.S. premiere at the AAFF on March 28: