For most of the 13 students whose films are showing in the Ann Arbor Film Festival this Wednesday, the opportunity came as a complete surprise.

Ann Arbor Film Festival: Student Film Showcase

Tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Michigan Theater

Eastern Michigan University alum Andrew Reaume’s film “Perception” was submitted to the festival by one of his professors. He had no idea the film had been accepted until he ran into the festival director.

“I thought he was just messing with me (at first),” Reaume said. “It took a good day for it all to sink in.”

‘U’ alum Walter Lowe III recounted a similar experience for his film “Protocol of a Person.” It was his senior Integrative Project at the School of Art & Design and was submitted by Katherine Weider-Roos of the PLAY Gallery. Lowe hadn’t planned any of it.

This is the first time the Ann Arbor Film Festival will be devoting a segment of the festival exclusively to regional student films. This is not surprising — the AAFF has included examples of student work since its 1963 inception and makes sure to always consider the quality of the work over the age of the artist.

According to AAFF executive director Donald Harrison, the festival invited schools in the region to submit their best recent student films. Most schools sent five to 10 works to the screening committee which selected at least one from each school. The selected films include a broad range of student work from animations to documentaries.

Harrison maintained that the stigma that often surrounds student work need not exist. He mentioned that director Michael Langan’s (“Heliotropes”) first film was in the Ann Arbor Film Festival when he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“I’m sure if you are just learning film, it’s probably not at the same level (as a professional filmmaker),” Harrison said. “But students really do make some great films, and it’s amazing to have student films play alongside the films of … influences, to have different generations working together and showcase new talents and new voices.”

The Ann Arbor Film Festival has been uncovering new talents and new voices, and the student showcase will certainly continue that tradition.

“I really want to push people’s ideas of perception and how it’s subjective and how things aren’t always what they seem,” Reaume said. His film integrates live action with graphic design.

“It’s exciting because I kind of get to push the line of what is graphic design,” he said. “A lot of people just think it’s a commercial thing with brochures and stuff, but (my film) shows that it doesn’t have to be just that, and you can use it to tell a different sort of narrative. Typography can change the situation.”

Lowe’s animated film is equally ambitious — he did the music for it himself — but focuses on experiences common to all students.

“(It) kind of reflects my anxieties about entering the work world,” he said. “It’s about how you change yourself and your behavior in situations. You know, you’re still kind of forming your personality while you’re in school and it was a culmination of all those experiences.”

Reaume and Lowe are excited about the upcoming festival and realize how matchless the experience will be.

“It’s crazy,” Lowe said. “(Oscar-nominated animator) Bill Plympton’s work has been shown here and now my stuff is shown in the same festival.”

Though the festival could promise professional opportunities for its filmmakers, that isn’t Lowe’s main focus.

“I really just want to go and soak it up,” Lowe said. “It wasn’t in the plan or anything, so I want to enjoy it.”

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