12th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival Approaches

Editor’s Update (4/4/13 3:26 p.m.): The festival is here. Check out all of the great films that it has to offer through the weekend. We will be posting reviews of a few films through out the festival. Tickets are $6 with your student ID.

The famous Ashland Independent Film Festival has recently revealed its full program for this year’s festival. This fantastic event will be residing in downtown Ashland, Oregon from April 4th through the 8th. The independent films will be showcased at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, the Ashland Springs Hotel, and newcomer Ashland Street Cinemas.  Over 7,500 moviegoers are expected to attend. The festival’s schedule, film descriptions, and program are available at www.ashlandfilm.org. Excited yet? Ticket sales go public on March 18.

Every year, the AIFF gives its Rogue Award to a filmmaker of great skill who is actively propelling the independent film industry. This year the festival will present the award to acclaimed director and AIFF alumni Lucy Walker. Walker has been nominated for an academy award not once, but twice for her films “Wasteland” in 2011 and “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” in 2012. Walker’s newest documentary, about a snowboarder named Kevin Pearce and his fight to recover from a brain injury received during Olympic training (“The Crash Reel”) will be shown. A collection of shorts, “Going for Gold: Olympic Shorts”, will also premiere. This assortment details the journey of four global athletes as they prepare for the Olympics.

There will be seven world premieres at this year’s festival. Among them are “The Forgotten Kingdom”, a narrative concerning a young man’s return journey to his African homeland. There will also be several festival alumni presenting at the festival. Jed Rothstein returns with his new documentary, “Before the Spring After the Fall”, about members of a heavy metal band in Egypt before, during and after the Arab Spring. Alumni Theo Rigby, Jill Orschel, Sam Roden, and Nick Hartanto will also be returning to debut their short films.

Other documentaries to be featured at the 12th annual AIFF include a lively exploration of Dick Cheney, a profile of the Hawaiian ukulele, and a deep examination of evangelical efforts in Uganda. Several Oscar winners and nominees will also be presented, such as “Inocente”, “Open Heart”, “Curfew”, “Redemption”, and “Mondays at Racine”.

But shorts aren’t all that’s playing. Many feature films will air as well. “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes”, a story about a teenager who becomes preoccupied with her mysterious new neighbor, and “The Story of Luke”, about a young man with autism, are two favorites. Also starring are “The Kings of Summer”, a film about three teenage boys who flee to the wilderness in hopes of controlling their destiny, and “Aquí y Allá”, a twist on the classic immigrant story.

Younger audiences will be entertained as well. A special program of independent film aimed towards youngsters will be available. The program includes ten short films that will satisfy kids and adults of all ages. The AIFF and Coming Attractions Theatres will donate one dollar to the non-profit Ashland Schools Foundation for every Family Film ticket sold.

Not everything costs money though. The festival has a free Locals Only program, which plays at the Ashland Street Cinema and the Varsity Theatre. Eight films will be shown, including “The Michael Maag Story” and “Breath”. The Locals Only program on Saturday, April 6th will include the winners of The Launch, the festival’s student competition. An Award Ceremony will be held later that evening.

Three free TalkBack panel discussions will be held with all sorts of filmmakers discussing the art at the Ashland Springs Hotel (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings at 10am). Guest moderators will lead the discussions and field audience questions on a variety of topics, such as the complexities of international short- and long-form narrative and documentary filmmaking. Other topics include the art and craft of translating private and public personalities to film, and the evolution of storytelling in the digital age.

This year, the festival introduces a new form of programming with eMerge, a new storytelling medium that crosses genres and platforms. This SOU EMDA program contains “Follow the Food”, a compilation of short videos detailing local artisan food providers; “Immigrant Nation”, which has a gallery installation at Houston’s Custom Framing and Fine Art, and a two-day “hackathon” at SOU’s Digital Media Center.

Tickets for festival films and events, as well as more information about the festival, events, parties, and the complete program are available online at ashlandfilm.org. Information is also available at the festival Box Office located at Ashland Hardwired, 340 A Street, and at the Varsity Theatre April 4th through 8th.

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