Specialties We are an annual forum for independent, experimental and art-focused films. History Established in 1963 The Ann Arbor Film Festival was started in 1963 by University of Michigan School of Art filmmaker/artist George Manupelli. The 1960s sparked rapid changes in cinema, thus challenging the art world to accept fresh ideas and talent. Manupelli took advantage of this shift and envisioned a festival that would serve experimental and pioneering filmmakers with the exposure, feedback and competition they desired. He designed his festival to be open to anyone who saw filmmaking as art. From a casual group of fascinated students, filmmakers and film enthusiasts crowded into the smoke-filled Lorch Hall auditorium, to the thousands of filmmakers, artists and spectators hosted in the grand Michigan Theater, the Ann Arbor Film Festival has grown to be an internationally celebrated institution.