The Ann Arbor Film Festival, the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America, is March 20-25. Special guest at the 56th AAFF is John Nelson, Academy Award—winning visual effects supervisor and University of Michigan graduate, who will present an illustrated lecture on filmmaking March 21 at the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.
Founded by George Manupelli in 1963, AAFF started as a critical, alternative venue for filmmakers and artists to share their work publicly. Today the festival maintains its focus on the art of film, serving as a premier forum for bold, visionary, experimental, and independent filmmakers.
56th AAFF Presents Academy Award-Winner John Nelson
The 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival presents special guest John Nelson, an Academy Award—winning visual effects supervisor. At this year’s festival, Nelson will present an illustrated lecture–free and open to the public–detailing how he and his team created some of the 1,190 visual effects shots for Blade Runner 2049 (2017), which won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Nelson has had a long career in special visual effects, working as a visual effects supervisor for such Academy Award–nominated films as I, Robot (2004), starring Will Smith, and Iron Man (2008), starring Robert Downey, Jr. His VFX work on director Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) won him an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
He began his career in visual effects (VFX) in 1979 making computer-generated graphics for film and advertising with Robert Abel and Associates. His work garnered six nominations—including two wins—for Clio Awards, which recognize creative achievements in advertising. Nelson later joined Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX division of Lucasfilm, animating scenes in director James Cameron’s Terminator 2. He also went on to serve as VFX supervisor for Rhythm & Hues (Stay Tuned) and Sony Pictures Imageworks (In the Line of Fire, The Pelican Brief, The Cable Guy, Anaconda, and City of Angels).
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, John Nelson became involved with AAFF in the late 1970s by serving on the selection committee. He showed his experimental film107 1/2 at the 17th festival in 1979. Since then, he has returned to experience and support the festival throughout the years. In 2001, Nelson returned to AAFF to present his VFX work on Gladiator. “It just seems natural that I come back and show my recent work in the place that started it all for me: Ann Arbor,” Nelson said. “That is where I made my independent films that won awards at festivals and got me in the door in Los Angeles.”
“I have a special place in my heart for the Ann Arbor Film Festival,” Nelson said. “The festival is a breath of fresh air in that there are no rules and a comedy might be in the same show with an abstract animation or a good documentary. The mix of styles is what makes the festival so vital.”
Nelson’s illustrated lecture will be held at the Main Auditorium in the Michigan Theater on Wednesday, March 21, at 5:00 p.m.
About Ann Arbor Film Festival
The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest avant-garde and experimental film festival in North America, internationally recognized as a premier forum for art film. The AAFF receives more than 3,000 submissions annually from over 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, and each year visits more than 35 theaters, universities, museums and art house cinemas around the world. The 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place March 20-25, 2018. For more information visit, aafilmfest.org. Join AAFF on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Vimeo.
Major AAFF Partners and Foundational Supporters
AAFF receives funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which supports the advancement of the visual arts; The Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairswhich encourages, initiates, and facilitates an enriched artistic cultural and creative environment in Michigan; the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, who is a major AAFF partner, with a mission focused on creative practice as an engine for cultural change and innovation; and the Michigan Theater, an important supporter whose beautiful venue serves as the primary location for AAFF events.
The image above is a still from the 2017 film, “Blade Runner 2049.”