Ann Arbor Film Festival Will Begin Paying Artists to Show Their Films in Competition

Ann Arbor — The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is excited to announce that it will now pay artists to show their films in competition starting with the upcoming 59th AAFF (March 23 – 28, 2021) which will be presented online. Along with the AAFF’s commitment to BLM and BIPOC filmmakers, the AAFF hopes this will help in further tipping the scales towards equity and fairness for all.

This is able to happen thanks to the AAFF’s new board chair and longtime AAFF stalwart, Sue Dise. Dise made the gift that allows the festival to take this important step.

“When Leslie [AAFF’s Festival Director] first mentioned the burgeoning movement to compensate filmmakers for festival screenings, my initial knee-jerk reaction was, ‘Why?’. Are we not providing a platform for these artists to exhibit their work to the wider world? Is there not an intrinsic value to this opportunity? Then I tried to think of another creative endeavor that I would enjoy without considering some sort of payment to the creator,” Dise said when asked why she supported this cause.

“I quickly revised my thinking from ‘Why?’ to ‘Why not?’ to ‘Absolutely!’ To that end, I decided to get in front of what I hope will become the norm for arts organizations like the Ann Arbor Film Festival – not only recognizing the cultural value of artistic expression but monetizing that value, if even in a most modest way. Here’s hoping my contribution spurs others to join this movement, recognizing and rewarding the work of artists who enhance our lives in immeasurable ways.”

Leslie Raymond, Festival Director, is grateful for the work of Canadian filmmaker Scott Fitzpatrick who has worked tirelessly for the fair treatment of artists. Thanks in part to Fitzpatrick’s efforts, Alchemy, European Media Arts Festival, Experiments in Cinema, Iowa City Documentary Festival, Kassler DokFest, Milwaukee Underground, and San Diego Underground paid screening fees this year.

“We are proud to add our weight to the cause and call on each of you to join us in supporting economic compensation for artists’ work in every way you can,” said Raymond.

“Artists pour money, time, energy, heart, and soul into their work, and are usually the last to see compensation. The paradigm that art is not worth money is wrong. Creative expression is good for society. Art adds value by connecting us to our humanity and our culture. It provokes us to think, feel, and see things in new ways. Art inspires and gives rise to more creativity. We all benefit.”

The AAFF hopes this step will help allow others to recognize the value of art and do all they can to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their work.

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 receives about 3,000 film submissions a year from more than 70 countries and serves as one of a handful of Academy Award–qualifying festivals in the United States. The AAFF is 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 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place March 23–28, 2021. For more information, please visit, and be sure to join AAFF on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Vimeo.

Major AAFF Partners and Foundation Support

AAFF gratefully acknowledges funding 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; and 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.