Festival winners include:
- CalArts alumnus Yanyu Dong (Film/Video MFA 17) earned the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker for her film Ayesha, an imaginary biography of her mother. The award is given to an emerging filmmaker who the jury expects to make a "significant contribution to the art of film in the course of his/her filmmaking career."
- For her film Silica, Experimental Animation faculty member Pia Borg shared the Gil Omenn Art & Science Award with Shanna Maurizi and the film Sunken Treasure. Borg’s sci-fi essay film blends CG animation and 35 mm film to follow the journey of a film location scout in an opal mining town on the brink of abandonment in the South Australian desert. The award honors the filmmaker whose work best uses the art of film and video to explore scientific concepts, research natural phenomena or embrace real-world experimentation.
- CalArts alum Travis Wilkerson (Film/Video MFA 01) won the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film for Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? The documentary begins with the painful revelation that in 1946, Wilkerson’s great-grandfather murdered Bill Spann, a black man, in Alabama and got away with it. The best nonfiction film of the festival receives this award in honor of documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who received inspiration from the hundreds of films he has viewed over the years at AAFF.
- And finally, Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu (Film/Video MFA 15), earned one the festival's jury awards for her film How Old Are You? How Old Were You? Inspired by the early device Camera Obscura, this film is a dialogue between Liu's two selves—infant and adult—that traverses through a series of psychological events, transforming memories, emotions, thoughts and imagination. Provided by friends of the festival and distributed at the discretion of the awards jurors, the jury awards provide special recognition for films of distinction and artistic accomplishment. Other 2018 Jury Award winners include Aliki Saragas' Strike a Rock, Simon Plouffe's Those Who Come, Will Hear and Josh Lewis' An Empty Threat.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America and is often recognized for its support of indie filmmakers and artists from all genres, including experimental, animation, documentary, fiction, live performance and installations.