AAFF Announces: Kick-off Pride Month with a Virtual Happy Hour

ANN ARBOR — The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is proud to announce a Virtual Happy Hour celebrating Pride Month taking place on Zoom on Thursday, June 4 at 7pm EDT. The Happy Hour will feature special guests Harrod Blank, director of the documentary film Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You, and its star Rusty Tidenberg. It will be hosted by former \aut\ Bar owners and longtime AAFF supporters Martin Contreras and Keith Orr and AAFF Director Leslie Raymond.

Admission to the happy hour is included when you rent Why Can’t I Be Me? Around YouFor this special presentation, streaming is discounted and now available for $10 with the coupon code AAFF-PRIDE!. Those who have already rented the film can attend for free. The film is available to rent on The Michigan Theater website and the coupon code is valid May 27-June 4. 50% of the proceeds go to the filmmaker. Those who have rented the film will be sent the link and password to attend the happy hour. The film is free for AAFF members.

The film, Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You, focuses on Tidenberg, an auto mechanic and drag-racing aficionado who shocked friends and family by coming out as trans. Followed for eight years by filmmaker Blank, she guides us through the aftermath of her transition, as growing acceptance among her straight-talking Southwest community still doesn’t ease her romantic and professional woes. Interwoven with lively tales of gender-nonconforming individuals on the art car circuit, Blank’s film is a sensitive and unpredictable love letter to people who fight to be unapologetically themselves.

Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You won the \aut\ FILM Award for Best LGBTQ Film at the 58th AAFF. The award honors the film that best addresses and gives voice to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer issues. Martin Contreras and Keith Orr have supported this award for over a decade to celebrate and validate the diversity of voices that achieve excellence in filmmaking. In addition, we are grateful to our community sponsors Affirmations, the Jim Toy Community Center, and Transgender Michigan, as well as our media sponsor Between The Lines.

You can find images and stills from the film here. 

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 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place March 23-28, 2021. For more information, please visit aafilmfest.org, and be sure to join AAFF on FacebookTwitterInstagram, 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.