91 films with filmmakers from around the world, special guest Lucy Walker, Oscar® Winners and World Premieres
The nationally acclaimed Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) today unveiled its complete program for the twelfth annual festival, to be held in the heart of historic downtown Ashland, Oregon, April 4-8. Over 7,500 film lovers are expected to gather with filmmakers from around the world for the five-day showcase of independent film at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, the Ashland Springs Hotel, and the festival’s newest venue, the Ashland Street Cinemas. The festival’s full schedule, film descriptions and program are available now at www.ashlandfilm.org. Tickets go on sale to members beginning March 12 and to the general public on March 18.
Each year, the AIFF presents its Rogue Award to a filmmaker of unique talent who is making a mark in the world of independent film. This year the festival honors celebrated director and AIFF alumni Lucy Walker. Walker has been nominated twice for an Academy Award® — in 2010 for Waste Land (AIFF 2011), and in 2012 for The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (AIFF 2012). Walker will screen her latest documentary, The Crash Reel — about champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his ongoing fight to recover from a massive brain injury incurred while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics — as well as Going for Gold: Olympic Shorts, a selection of short films that follow four athletes from around the world as they meet the challenges of preparing for the Olympics. Walker will receive the Rogue Award at the festival’s Awards Celebration on Sunday, April 7.
This year’s festival lineup features seven World Premieres, including the narrative features The Forgotten Kingdom about a young man’s return to his African homeland directed by Andrew Mudge, and the locally produced Redwood Highway starring Shirley Knight and directed by Gary Lundgren (Wow and Flutter, AIFF 2005, Calvin Marshall, AIFF 2010). Also premiering at the AIFF are films from a number of festival alumni: the feature length documentaries Before the Spring After the Fall, about four members of a heavy metal band in Egypt before, during and since the Arab Spring from Jed Rothstein (Killing in the Name, AIFF 2011), and the short films The Caretaker and The Mayor directed by Theo Rigby (Close to Home, AIFF 2010, Sin País, AIFF 2011), Like a Dance from director Jill Orschel (Sister Wife, AIFF 2010), and An Act of Revenge from returning filmmakers Sam Roden and Nick Hartanto (The Lonely Pair, AIFF 2012).
Among the documentaries featured at the 12th annual AIFF are a candid portrait of one of the most influential – and controversial — political leaders our nation has ever known, in The World According to Dick Cheney; a profile of the Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings; an indelible portrait of the complex relationship between Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright/actor Sam Shepard and his close friend Johnny Dark in Shepard & Dark, and Joe Papp in Five Acts about the legendary theatre producer who nurtured a generation of American actors and playwrights and spent a lifetime expanding access to public arts. Academy Award®-winning director Roger Ross Williams (Music By Prudence, AIFF 2010) also returns to Ashland with God Loves Uganda, a powerful examination of the impact of the evangelical movement.
OSCAR® WINNERS AND NOMINEES
Other festival highlights include the Oscar®-winning short film, Inocente, a documentary about a homeless teen who transforms her life through her art, which is paired with the Oscar®-nominated Open Heart in the festival’s Oscar® Short Docs 2 program. Also screening is the Academy Award® winning narrative film Curfew, the story of a young man coerced into spending an evening with his nine-year-old niece, which appears in the Short Stories program. This year, the festival also presents Oscar Short Docs 1,which includes nominees Redemption, about New York City’s burgeoning bottle and can collectors, and Mondays at Racine, about a beauty salon that opens its doors each week to women undergoing chemotherapy.
The AIFF again presents some of the best new feature film work available on the festival circuit. Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who becomes preoccupied with her mysterious new neighbor, Linda (Jessica Biel), who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. The Story of Luke is about an autistic young man, Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci) who sets off on a quest to find a job and true love. The Kings of Summer, which plays at the Ashland Street Cinemas, is the tale of three unhappy teenage boys who flee to the wilderness to live off the land as masters of their own destiny. Aquí y Allá (Here and There) offers an unexpected take on the traditional immigrant story, as a young father abandons an uncertain future in the United States and returns to his homeland to try to make a living.
The festival again offers a special program of independent film geared toward younger audiences. The program and Q&A with visiting filmmakers will screen five times throughout the festival weekend at the Ashland Street Cinemas, providing increased capacity, access and scheduling flexibility for local families. The program offers a selection of ten short films that are geared for kids, but whose creativity will engage and delight audiences of all ages. Among the selections are animation from around the world, films from Rogue Valley students, and a new documentary by AIFF 2008 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Albert Maysles. The AIFF and Coming Attractions Theatres will donate $1.00 to the non-profit Ashland Schools Foundation for each Family Film ticket purchased.
The AIFF features the work of local filmmakers in a free Locals Only program, which plays at the Ashland Street Cinema and the Varsity Theatre. Among the eight films to be screened are The Michael Maag Story: You Don’t Have to Be Able to Stand to Walk Tall, Jim Long’s tribute to a local hero who finds the courage to live life in a new way following a severe spinal cord injury, and Breath: in Three Verses, Katherine Roselli’s carefully composed visual and auditory journey on the impact of breath. The Locals Only program on Saturday, April 6 will include the winners of The Launch, the festival’s Siskiyou region student competition, and will be followed by an Award Ceremony for the winning students with prizes made possible by a grant from the Fred W. Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.
Three free TalkBack panel discussions will be held with filmmakers of all genres discussing their craft at the Ashland Springs Hotel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am. Guest moderators will lead the discussions and field audience questions on such topics as No Borders, which tackles the complexities of international short- and long-form narrative and documentary filmmaking; Close-Up and Personal, about the art and craft of translating private and public personalities to film, and Transmedia 101: The Future of Storytelling, which pairs filmmakers and technologists in a lively discussion about the evolution of storytelling in the digital age.
This year, the festival introduces a new form of programming with eMerge, a showcase of digital and interactive storytelling that crosses genres and platforms. The program, developed in collaboration with SOU’s Emerging Media and Digital Arts program and sponsored in part by the Governor’s Office of Film and Project A, includes Follow the Food, a series of short videos profiling local artisan food providers; a live community storytelling event, Immigrant Nation, which includes a gallery installation at Houston’s Custom Framing and Fine Art and a two-day hackathon at SOU’s Digital Media Center, and a TalkBack panel.
Many of the screenings features question-and-answer sessions with visiting filmmakers and film subjects. Audiences also have the opportunity to rub elbows with filmmakers over a late-night drink at the AfterLounge, hosted by a different restaurant every night.
Tickets for festival films and events, as well as more information about films, special events and parties and the festival’s complete program are available online at ashlandfilm.org and at the festival Box Office located at Ashland Hardwired, 340 A Street, and at the Varsity Theatre April 4 – 8.