Preview: Voyages, an interactive performance by Khemia Ensemble at the Kerrytown Concert House


Khemia Ensemble brings their one-night only experience Voyages to Kerrytown Concert House April 9th.

Khemia Ensemble brings their one-night only experience Voyages to Kerrytown Concert House April 9th.

Khemia Ensemble, a contemporary classical music ensemble based in Ann Arbor, will present Voyages, a one night-only audio visual performance at the Kerrytown Concert House. Their show will feature a customized interactive real-time display in partnership with Cincinnati-based Intermedio that captures sonic and movement data from performers for an immersive experience reminiscent of a rock or electronica concert.

The group's goal is to bring fresh eyes to the way contemporary classical music is taught, created, learned, and performed by focusing on dynamic performances, audience engagement, and the music of living composers. Members are selected as an inaugural Performing Arts EXCELerator team as well as an ArtsEngine team through a University of Michigan School-wide application process.

Khemia Ensemble have been the ensemble in residence at the Composition and Music Research Biennial in Cordoba, Argentina, as well as at the University of Cordoba and the National University of Colombia. Members hold degrees from the University of Michigan, Juilliard, Yale School of Music, New England Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, Rice University, and Hochschule für Musik der Stadt Basel.

Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at AADL.

Voyages will take place on April 9th at Kerrytown Concert House at 8:30 pm. Doors open at 8:15 pm. Tickets: $10, students $8, children $5. Appropriate for all audiences.

Preview: FoolMoon and Festifools


Festifools is sure to be a wonderfool time again this year.

Festifools is sure to be a wonderfool time again this year.

Every spring in Ann Arbor, there are telltale signs that things are going to change, bloom, and get warmer: dirty piles of snow & leftover grit, giant potholes, crocuses poking from the soil, Hash Bash attendees filling the Diag with plumes of smoke, and a weekend of April Fools fun! Mark your calendars for Friday, April 1 and Sunday, April 3 for two of the most anticipated, dynamic, and artful events in town: FoolMoon and Festifools!

Friday’s FoolMoon is the newer of the two events with a slightly edgier feel, if only because it happens at night and beer can be consumed. The fun starts at three gathering places (Kerrytown Farmers Market, University of Michigan Art Museum, and Slauson Middle School) where revelers can assemble with their carefully crafted illuminated sculptures. The crowds at each stop march through town, proudly displaying their handiwork, to gather at Washington St. & Ashley St. for a lighted street party with a beer tent, music, glowing puppets, wild and luminous costumes, movies & images projected on buildings and moonlit, shining sights. From dusk 'til midnight, people of all ages dance, play, and marvel at all of the illuminated art. This year’s theme is Metamor-FOOL-sis!

AADL always has a tent at FoolMoon and we’ll be hosting rousing games of Johann Sebastian Joust, an all ages, no-graphics, digitally enabled playground game using illuminated motion-sensitive controllers. Attendees can play with our lighted hula-hoops and other fun digital instruments and tools that can be checked out from the library.

FoolMoon is always an illuminating experience!

FoolMoon is always an illuminating experience!

Festifools is celebrating 10 years of foolishness this year with the annual event happening on Sunday from 4-5 pm on Main St. between William St. and Washington St. - parking is free on Sundays! This year’s theme is Rev-FOOL-ution! Community members and U-M students work for months to create the large, wild, colorful, and frequently topical papier-mâché puppets that will be marched, pranced, danced, and displayed during Festifools. In addition to the puppets there's music, joyful noise, drumming, and an enthusiastic crowd of all ages!

As has also become tradition, the library hosts an annual Robot Making event on Saturday, April 2 from 2-3:30 pm for families to come and make their own robot costume to wear and then march in during the Festifools parade on Sunday!

Festifools puppets and people engage in some good old-fashioned tomfoolery.

Festifools puppets and people engage in some good old-fashioned tomfoolery.

The origins of these special events start with Mark Tucker, Arts Director at the University of Michigan Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, who began his professional artistic career as Art Director for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade. While in this role, Mark traveled to Europe to learn the fine art of cartapesta (papier mâché) from esteemed float builders in Viareggio, Italy. If you’re familiar with New York City's Superior Concept Monsters, then you may have an inkling of the FestiFools vibe.

Inspired by the magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect, human-powered, and fully animated floats, Mark decided to see if this kind of creative energy could find an audience back home.

FoolMoon and Festifools are produced by WonderFool Productions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging communities in dynamic, educational, collaborative and entertaining public art experiences.

Erin Helmrich is a librarian at AADL, and she'll be smothering her sadness at missing this year's festivities with margaritas in Mexico.

FoolMoon is Friday, April 1, from dusk 'til midnight in downtown Ann Arbor (Washington & Ashley) and Festifools is Sunday, April 3 from 4-5 pm in downtown Ann Arbor on Main St. between William and Washington.

Goodbye Dollar Theaters, Hello Value Screenings!


Great movies can still be seen on the big screen for little money in Ann Arbor.

Great movies can still be seen on the big screen for little money in Ann Arbor.

The dollar theaters are gone, but their value lives on in two of the last places frugal moviegoers might expect.

That’s right, over a decade after the Fox Village Theater was replaced by Plum Market, and nearly six years after MC Sports punted Briarwood Dollar Movies from the hallowed halls of our local mall, deal-seeking cinephiles can still save thanks to special programs at the Quality 16 on the west side of town, and Cinemark's Rave Motion Pictures to the east.

And while it’s true these programs may not adhere strictly to the “second-run” model that once provided moviegoers on a budget with affordable entertainment alternatives, programs focusing on beloved classics and recent children’s fare ensure that audiences of all ages and tastes will find something to butter their proverbial popcorn.

As any frequent moviegoer can attest, the film release landscape has seen some seismic shifts in recent years. Even as recently as 2010 – the year that Briarwood screens went dark – affordable home theater systems and changing distribution models were making it difficult for discount theater chains to survive, much less thrive. Flash forward just a few years, and convenient alternatives such as Netflix (whose high-profile sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny recently debuted on the popular streaming service) and On Demand options have started to make leaving the house for a night at the movies more of a pricey chore than an escape from reality.

Fortunately, some savvy theater chains have started to pick up the slack for those shuttered screens. Opened in 1998, the Goodrich Theater Quality 16 primarily focuses on first-run films. A closer look at the chain’s history, however, reveals they are currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of their family-friendly movie series. Dubbed “Morning Movies,” the current program promises nine weeks of PG-rated fare for just $1 a ticket. The shows, which began on March 4 with Home (2015), run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10 am.

Even better, patrons who sign up for the theater’s free Frequent Moviegoers Club will not only get into each screening absolutely free, but also be allowed up to 6 free admissions to each show by presenting their FMG card at the box office.

Speaking to Quality 16 Assistant Manager Mark Culp, it quickly becomes apparent just how popular these series are. According to Culp, “Ticket sales can be a little slow toward the beginning of the season, but once the word starts to spread, we usually have to open a second auditorium to accommodate the larger crowds.”

Of course it doesn’t hurt to have some symbiotic advertising as well. “A lot of the time we’ll have special guests come in for appearances at the screenings, too. We’ve had karate group demonstrations, and even a petting zoo with a real kangaroo.” These special guests frequently appear in the theater’s spacious lobby, and tie in to the theme of that week’s movie. The series ends on the weekend of April 29th with the beloved adventure comedy The Princess Bride.

Meanwhile, across town, the Cinemark is in the midst of their popular Classic Series, a six-week program catering not just to parents, but also to those nostalgic souls who long to experience their old favorites somewhere other than the living room. Each week a new film debuts on Sunday, with an encore screening the following Wednesday.

The series launched in 2013 after a group of Arizona senior citizens asked their local theater about the possibility of resurrecting some of their favorite classics. From there, the series quickly expanded nationwide with screenings of The Godfather I and II, and now plays at approximately 140 theaters.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. The introduction of digital projection brought with it a new distribution system that made these films easily available to theaters across the country. Gone are the days of the beat-up 35mm print sputtering its way through wobbling projector spindles; these copies have been cleaned up so well that they likely look even better than you remember them.

Cinemark Marketing Manager Frank Gonzales takes particular pride in that, too. "I would venture to guess that for a lot of these folks, the presentation is much cleaner than they remember it, because there are no cuts, no scratches like you would find on the prints. The sound is probably better than they remember because we've got digital sound systems in all of our auditoriums with speakers and specs that are built for that auditorium," says Gonzales.

As for the wide-reaching appeal of the series, Gonzales continues, "The Classic Series have really become a generational thing, with parents going back to see the movies they saw as kids and bringing their own kids with them. Or folks who remember seeing a movie when they were younger and want to see it again. Maybe it was the first movie they ever saw in a theater, and now the only place they see it is on a television set, or possibly a phone, or on a tablet. So this is the opportunity for them to get the real experience."

According to Gonzales, the films for the series are selected in a number of ways. "We have a Film Department here. We've got a couple of people in the department that have their wish lists of things they'd like to see. We also get feedback from customers. They're always offering their suggestions for films to place in the Classics Series. Then sometimes the studios will come to us. They'll say they're going to put out an anniversary edition of a movie. For instance, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We just recently had that last week."

Naturally, as more theaters embrace the digital projection model, every year brings new titles that weren't previously available for screening. So if your favorite film isn't in this series, let your voice be heard, and there's a fair chance it will be in the future. Speaking of days to come, on Sunday, April 3 and Wednesday, April 6, movie lovers can take an epic voyage into a frightening prospective future and beyond, with back-to-back screenings of the Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Other screenings yet to come include an Easter Sunday matinee of Raiders of the Lost Ark (with a pair of encores the following Wednesday), and the series capper, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on Sunday, April 10 and Wednesday, April 13.

Jason Buchanan is a writer living in Ann Arbor.

For complete information on both series, including showtimes and more, visit Goodrich Quality Theaters and Cinemark.

Preview: Threads All Arts Festival - April 1-2

The first Threads Festival looms.

The first Threads Festival looms.

The Threads All Arts Festival is a new cross-disciplinary arts festival that’ll take place in the Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor on April 1-2, 2016. It’s two days packed with music, dance, poetry, film, theater, and visual art, and the two-day pass to the festival costs $5.

The festival came together after six students at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance thought up the idea, and then U-M’s EXCEL program funded the project.

Launched in September 2015, EXCEL stands for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment. Jonathan Kuuskoski, Assistant Director of Entrepreneurship and Career Services at U-M SMTD, says that the goal of the program is to catalyze success for all of U-M SMTD students and alumni through curricular and co-curricular programming and ongoing mentorship. The Threads festival is one of twelve projects funded by the Performing Arts EXCELerator program.

Kuuskoski says he’s proud of the work that the Threads team has done so far. He says the project was selected and funded at the highest level because it is “a very audacious idea, but one that seemed to be rooted in a very present community need.”

I met Meri Bobber, one of the students on the Threads team, through my work as the manager of digital media at the University Musical Society - you'll catch several UMS Artists in Residence participating in the festival.

Through Bobber, I connected with the full Threads team (Nicole Patrick, Meri Bobber, Sam Schaefer, Peter Littlejohn, Lang DeLancey, and Karen Toomasian) to chat about what’s exciting about the project and what we can expect in the future.

Q: How did the festival first come together?
A: Sam and Nicole were sitting together dreaming of attending the Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin. They realized that if they were dreaming this hard about attending, they should also probably put together their own festival. At first it was a joke, but then they won a grant. The festival had to happen.

Sam and Nicole quickly realized the festival was in no way possible with just the two of them, and they reached out to four people that seemed to fill every role possible. This team has been digging deep to put together the Threads Festival. We have all helped each other develop ideas, compromise on our way-too-ridiculous ambitions, and organize an event that represents the amazing, unique town that is Ann Arbor.

Q: You talk about how it’s important to you that both students and Ann Arbor community participate. Why is this important to you?
A: The purpose of all of our work is to make something great for Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor, in its awesome uniqueness, is not JUST a college town and not JUST a little city. Its special blend of communities, artistic and otherwise, is what makes it different from any other place in the world. To celebrate the city’s whole artistic community through this festival, we strive to bring students and non-students together.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the festival?
A: WE CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR ALL OF IT. We are looking forward to seeing all of the tiny pieces that we have thought about as independent or abstract come together into one coherent thing. We can't wait to feel the sense of unity and action that we hope this festival will create. We’ll consider this year a success if people walk out smiling, or rather, thinking. We're such dorks about everything...we were stoked to order porta-potties. It's just amazing. All of it.

Q: You’re aiming to make this an annual festival. That’s an ambitious goal. What do you hope for the festival in the coming years?
A: We want Threads to help expose budding artists in this area. They are working their butts off, but in a town where there are (thankfully) a ton of live performances, many don’t have a large turnout. Simply put, we want people to look forward to this festival as a way to discover artists, so that they can look for these artists around town and see/hear/interact with them beyond just this one day.

We would also love to find a way for the festival to feature a larger outdoor presence in the future. We want guests to be able to leave behind the distractions of daily life, and experience a multi-stage festival event for a few days in an open and peaceful outdoor environment where the music and the river, or wind, or even the sound of crickets can exist in a way that allows a unique experience to emerge.

We want this festival to find longevity far beyond this season so that there is just one more GREAT thing about Ann Arbor.

Anna Prushinskaya is a writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Threads All Arts Festival is takes place in the Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor on April 1-2, 2016.

Preview: The University Opera Theatre presents Così Fan Tutte


The cast of University Opera Theatre's Così Fan Tutte.

If you're a fan, get your tutte out to see Così Fan Tutte.

A wager that women can’t be faithful and a bold experiment (with elaborate disguises to prove that point) form the plot foundations of Mozart’s famous comic opera Così Fan Tutte, to be performed by University Opera Theatre accompanied by the University Philharmonia Orchestra.

Deemed scandalous on its premiere, the opera had a troubled production history. Commissioned for the 1789-90 season, Così Fan Tutte received only five performances before the 1790 death of Emperor Joseph II. The new emperor did not hold the same cultural views as his predecessor and the new comic opera received only five more performances. It is rumored that Mozart, who died the following year, never even received full payment for his authorship.

Today’s audiences find this opera comical, yet touching. The complex plot (featuring mixed identities, declarations of love, and fiancée-swapping as two young men don disguises to woo their own girlfriends) is no longer scandalous but extremely amusing. The magnificent score includes such beautiful arias as “Come scoglio,” “Smanie implacabili,” and “Per pieta.”

Directed by Kay Walker Castaldo and conducted by Kathleen Kelly, the U-M production will be sung in Italian with projected English translations.

Tim Grimes is manager of Community Relations & Marketing at the Ann Arbor District Library and co-founder of Redbud Productions.

Performances run from Thursday, March 24 to Sunday, March 27 at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, 911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor. For tickets, visit or call the Michigan League at (734) 764-2538.

Preview: Fukushima Tribute Concert featuring Yamakiya Taiko Ensemble


The Yamakiya Taiko Ensemble will take the stage at the Power Center for a free concert on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

The Yamakiya Taiko Ensemble will take the stage at the Power Center for a free concert on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate life’s endurance through hardship and turmoil with a performance of the Yamakiya Taiko Ensemble at the Fukushima Tribute Concert March 22nd at the Power Center! Special guests include the Great Lakes Taiko Center - Raion Taiko from Novi, MI.

This youth ensemble, ranging in age from 12-21, was nearly hopelessly scattered after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. Their commitment to music and each other has kept them together, but some of the members are graduating from high school and preparing to move on. This concert will be, as they describe, “a thunderous expression of gratitude and optimism to the world - a concert in the US, that might encourage all to remember what Yamakiya members have learned to remember daily - namely, that which is precious in one’s own heart.”

If you can't make the Tuesday evening performance, there's one more opportunity to see them perform. The Yamakiya Taiko Ensemble was featured in the movie Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima, which will be screened at Stamps Auditorium on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm – followed by a brief post-concert by Yamakiya Taiko! You can watch the film's trailer here.

The group is here as part of the University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies Artist Residency program. During their stay, the Yamakiya Ensemble will also conduct taiko workshops at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Anne Drozd is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.

The Yamakiya Ensemble are performing a free concert on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at 7 pm at the Power Center (121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109). In addition to the concert, there is a free screening of the film "Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima" at Stamps Auditorium (1226 Murfin Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48109) on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at 7 pm. Both of these events are free and open to the public and are brought to you by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance (SMTD), the Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS), and the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS).

Preview: Rise Up Cabaret, Neighborhood Theatre Group


Neighborhood Theatre Group rises to the occasion with their premiere show.

Neighborhood Theatre Group rises to the occasion with their premiere show.

There's a brand-new theatre group in the area. Founded by Kristin Anne Danko and Aaron Dean, who recently relocated to the area from Chicago’s experimental theatre scene, Neighborhood Theatre Group is based on the belief that theatre can bring individuals together.

The company, based in Ypsilanti, intends to cultivate a welcoming and collaborative environment for local theatre artists and has assembled a talented group of singers and performers for their March production, Rise Up Cabaret. Featuring songs of many different genres and styles all centered on the theme of rising up, this musical evening shines a bright, positive light on current, difficult, and important social issues.

Directed by Kristin Anne Danko, Rise Up Cabaret features Nick Brown, David Galido, Eric Hohnke, Emily Rogers, Mary Rumman, Angela Tomaszycki, Craig VanKempen, and Kelly Rose Voigt, with Tom Hett on piano.

Neighborhood Theatre Group has also partnered with Ypsilanti’s Ozone House for this production, and representatives from the organization will attend each performance with information on Ozone House and its mission.

So, why not try something new? Neighborhood Theatre Group promises a memorable musical evening filled with uplifting songs. Local audiences can also look forward to future Neighborhood Theatre Group productions including original works, sketch shows, cabarets, and self-produced videos.

Tim Grimes is manager of Community Relations & Marketing at the Ann Arbor District Library and co-founder of Redbud Productions.

Rise Up Cabaret runs from Thursday March 24th through Saturday March 26th at Dreamland Theater, 26 N. Washington St. in Downtown Ypsilanti. All shows are at 8 pm. To reserve seats, or for more information, email

Preview: Charley's Aunt, Skyline High School


Dating is a drag in Skyline's production of Charley's Aunt.

Dating is a drag in Skyline's production of Charley's Aunt. / Photo by Lisa Gavan.

This weekend, Skyline High School Theatre presents Charley's Aunt.

Long before Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire - 122 years ago, in fact - the cross-dressing comedy Charley’s Aunt has been keeping audiences in stitches. Playwright Brandon Thomas wrote this British farce about a couple college buddies who rope a third friend into dressing up as an elderly aunt/chaperone for their girlfriends. They hope “she” will be a more reasonable alternative to the girls’ over-protective and overbearing male guardian...but of course it turns out to be a little more complicated than that.

Charley's Aunt is the quintessential British farce,” says director Anne-Marie Roberts, explaining that the show isn’t just entertaining for the audience, it’s also educational for the participants. “Exposing the students to a gem of the British theater is one of the goals for educational theater.”

Skyline's production features Jianmarco Barbeau and Jakub Hann as the college friends; Leah Bauer and Amanda Wilhoit as the girlfriends; Riley O'Brian as the guardian; and Theo Billups as "Charley's Aunt". Rounding out the cast are Peter Dannug as Sir Fancis; Madison Burk as wealthy widow Donna Lucia De Alvadorez; Sonja Mittlestat as her young ward Ela; and Luke Wertenberger as Jack's put-upon butler, Brasset.

Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library.

Charley’s Aunt runs March 17,18, and 19 at Skyline High School Auditorium at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets are available at for $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets will also be available at the door for $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Preview: Warren's Peace, Saline Area Players


Andrew Godell's national guardsman runs into trouble in a small Michigan town in Warren's Peace.

Andrew Godell's national guardsman runs into trouble in a small Michigan town in Warren's Peace.

Enjoy an evening of theater set in Michigan, written by Michigan playwrights--that also promises audience samples of Michigan-made treats from local providers like Ed's Bread, Grand Traverse Pie, and Zingerman's--when the Saline Area Players present Marc and Kathy Holland’s new comedy Warren’s Peace.

The production may seem to be an appreciation of all things Michigan, but the underlying purpose is to delight and amuse. As playwright and director Marc Holland stated in a recent interview “I want you to have a good time when you attend my show, just as I want to laugh when I lay down my money at the box office.”

Warren’s Peace centers on a national guardsman who is sent to a small Michigan town to kick off World Peace Day, but runs into conflict when he meets the distrustful, eccentric townspeople. Andrew Godell plays the guardsman, and the cast includes Brent Lofgren, Trevor Maher, Patti Ringe, Marlena Shuler, and (of special interest to library fans) Laurie Atwood as the Librarian.

Tim Grimes is manager of Community Relations & Marketing at the Ann Arbor District Library and co-founder of Redbud Productions.

Performances of ​ Warren’s Peace ​run Thursday­-Saturday, March 17-19, and will take place at Fifth Corner, 211 Willis Rd in Saline. For information, visit

Q&A with 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival Executive Director Leslie Raymond


Leslie Raymond is in her third year as Executive Director of AAFF.

Leslie Raymond is in her third year as Executive Director of AAFF.

I recently stopped by the busy Ann Arbor Film Festival office to chat with Leslie Raymond about the upcoming 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival running March 15-20, 2016. Leslie has been involved with the AAFF since the 30th Festival in 1992; this will be her third year as the Festival’s Executive Director.

Q: What’s new or different about this year’s Festival?
A: Well, we’re seeing a lot of animation. We’re also seeing a lot of feature length documentaries, nine or ten of which are in competition, as well as three films by Chantal Akerman who passed away tragically last October. We felt she was such an important figure in the history of avant-garde cinema as well as a great role model for women.

Q: Why do you think there are more documentaries this year?
A: Yeah, David [Dinnell, program director] and I were talking earlier about this being a more “moving image” culture where so much of the information we receive now comes through the moving image because of its ubiquity. Now we can shoot a movie on our cellphone, edit it, and publish it in minutes. Maybe that has something to do with it, although I don’t know why that would draw somebody more to making something more documentary than narrative.
Q: Which of the Festival events excite you the most this year?
A: Grahame Weinbren’s 78 Letters - which will show on Sunday, March 20 at 3:15 pm in the Main Auditorium - is an interactive series of one-minute pieces where the audience will help direct how the work goes together. I’m particularly excited about that. There will also be a 1975 installation by Lis Rhodes at the Ann Arbor Art Center on Friday, March 18 from 3 to 5 pm. It’s titled Light Music and it’s composed of two 16 mm projectors projecting abstract imagery from either end of the viewing space with an optical soundtrack read by light passing through. We’re also excited about the live shadow puppet performance by local artist Tom Carey that opens the “Films in Competition 5 (Ages 6+)” event. We call it “family friendly” and “ages 6 and up” but it’s not just a “kid’s show.” One of the things important for us is to engage audiences on other levels than just being a passive observer.
Q: Do you think audiences are more receptive today to an interactive experience?
A: I think so. And we want to provide opportunities for Festival viewers to be part of the fabric of the environment. Along these lines we have the “What We Saw” cards in the lobby -- we’ve done this for several years now -- where we invite participants to fill the cards out, let us know what they think about what they’ve just seen, and then take pictures of them for a slide show. There will even be an Oculus Rift piece in the grand foyer of the Michigan Theater -- a 9-foot inflatable bubble! -- where people will be able to put on the Oculus Rift and have an 8 or 9-minute Oculus Rift experience.  
Q: I know someone who’s coming to the festival for the first time. What do you want her to take away from the experience?
A: We’d want her to feel the empowerment of seeing a lot of different things about the world. I think there’s so much to be said for being able to access all of these different viewpoints and ways of expressing things that go far outside the mainstream culture. We’d want her to experience the richness and diversity we live in. So I’d hope that somebody coming for the first time would see things they’re not familiar with...and be okay with that.
Q: The legacy of the AAFF as the longest-running independent and experimental festival in North America is an honor for Ann Arbor. Do you feel a sense of responsibility that Festival goers leave with a sense of that history?
A: I do think about it a lot. I feel like it’s a huge responsibility. The Festival has been here since 1963 and it still embodies the ethos in which it was founded - that particular time and place in history where there was such a rich political, social, and even fashion culture in every direction you looked. I think this heritage ties directly into the diversity of independent cinematic voices and our embracing of that diversity of expressions. It’s still relevant. So I think it’s important to stay grounded in the Festival’s history while also moving toward the future using the technologies that will now allow for much more of this experimentation.
Q: Any final thoughts on this year’s Festival?
A: I’ve been thinking lately about the sense of the collective journey. For a lot of people who are invested in joining us for the whole week – or even if you’re only coming to a few programs – there really is a sense of embarking on something unknown with a spirit of adventure. There are all kinds of things to discover, conversations to be had, thoughts to be thought, and feelings to be felt. Part of it is looking at the work and having the opportunity to share it with those you came with or walk out of the screening and then run into someone in the lobby and talk about what you’ve just experienced.

Amy Cantú is a Production Librarian at AADL.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival runs from March 15-20, 2016. Tickets are available at the door or online.