Ann Arbor Film Festival to start paying filmmakers who show work at competitions


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Filmmakers showing their films at this year’s 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival can now expect to be paid for their art.

On Tuesday, the film festival organization announced it will begin paying artists to show their films at competitions, starting with its upcoming festival in March.

In a press release, AAFF said that the move was made to help in “further tipping the scales towards equity and fairness for all” in addition to its commitment to filmmakers from diverse backgrounds.

AAFF executive director Leslie Raymond said the organization was proud to economically support its artists and encouraged the public to normalize fair treatment of artists, a cause championed by Canadian filmmaker Scott Fitzpatrick.

“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,” Raymond said.

The organization said that the ability to pay filmmakers comes from a gift by its new board chair Sue Dise.

When asked about her support of the cause Dise said:

“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.”

“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.”

The 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival will run from March 23-28, 2021.

Each year it receives around 3,000 film submissions representing more than 70 countries for its annual festival. The festival was founded in 1963 and has since become the oldest independent and avant-garde film festival in North America.

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About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.