13th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival Runs April 3 – 7

by Tyler Jasper

photo via ashlandfilm.org

photo via ashlandfilm.org

Ashland, Ore. –   The Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) unveiled its complete program for the thirteenth annual Festival, to be held in the heart of historic downtown Ashland, Oregon, April 3-7. Over 7,500 film lovers are expected to gather for five days of world-class independent film at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, the Ashland Street Cinemas, and the Ashland Springs Hotel.

The Festival’s full schedule, film descriptions and program are available now at ashlandfilm.org. Tickets go on sale to members beginning March 10 and to the general public on March 16.

This year, the AIFF will honor two-time Academy Award® winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple with its 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. Kopple received an Oscar in 1976 for Harlan County USA, and again in 1991 for American Dream.

Kopple’s many award-winning films include Shut Up and Sing; Woodstock: Now and Then; and Wild Man Blues, about Woody Allen and his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. The AIFF will celebrate Kopple’s career with a lively evening of conversation, music and film featuring special guests, David Morris, an Appalachian musician from West Virginia featured in Harlan Country USA, and his son Jack, 4thgeneration Appalachian.

Running from Crazy, Kopple’s latest documentary, will screen at this year’s Festival.  The film examines the personal journey of writer, model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her complex family history.

 This year, the AIFF is honored to present a 2014 Rogue Award to a homegrown talent, Ty Burrell. Ty has appeared in blockbuster hits such as Black Hawk Down (2001), Dawn of the Dead (2004), and The Incredible Hulk (2008) and is the voice of Mr. Peabody in the now-playing Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Most know him as the funniest father on television, Phil Dunphy in Modern Family. But few know the man behind Phil, the Emmy Award winning performer who grew up in Ashland.  In A Conversation with Ty Burrell on Saturday, April 5 at the Historic Ashland Armory, Ty and his childhood friend, Miles Inada, Professor of Art and Emerging Media at Southern Oregon University, will engage in what is sure to be an insightful and thoroughly entertaining discussion of acting (“the least rational career possible”), playing soccer in first grade together, plus a Q&A with the audience and other surprises.

The AIFF is also proud to present Mark Monroe with a 2014 Rogue Award.  Monroe is the writing talent behind the Academy Award winning film The Cove, the eye-opening Chasing Ice (AIFF12), and critically acclaimed The Tillman Story. Recently, Monroe penned Mission Blue, about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries, which will screen at the Festival. Monroe will be featured on a free filmmaker TalkBack panel, Not the Same Old Story, examining the critical role of writing for documentary films.

The Festival’s Opening Night Film, The Case Against 8, is a behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage.  Other documentaries featured at the 13th annual AIFF include Burt’s Buzz, an intimate portrait of the reclusive Burt’s Bees founder Burt Shavitz and Running Wild, the story of legendary cowboy Dayton O. Hyde, author and protector of wild horses. From Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmaker and AIFF Alum Director Rory Kennedy (Ethel, AIFF12) comes Last Days in Vietnam, revealing the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War. Ivory Tower examines the purpose of higher education in an era when the price of college has increased more than any other service in the U.S. economy since 1978.

The AIFF line-up includes a selection of Academy Award nominees, providing a rare opportunity for Southern Oregon audiences to see these works on the big screen.

Four films nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject will be featured.

Facing Fear follows a former neo-Nazi skinhead and the gay victim of his hate crime who meet by chance 25 years after the incident that dramatically shaped both of their lives.

Karama Has No Walls chronicles the 2011 Yemen uprising. A peaceful gathering by students turns deadly when pro-government snipers open fire on the protest.

CaveDigger portrays Ra Paulette, an artist who creates cathedral-like caves in northern New Mexico with nothing but hand tools, grit and passion.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall breaks through the walls of one of Americas oldest maximum-security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner.

AIFF will also screen four Best Live Action Short nominated films.

Do I Have to Take Care of Everything, a comedy about a chaotic morning in a family with kids, and a mother who is determined that it’s best to take care of everything herself.

In Just Before Losing Everything (Avant Que de Tout Perdre), a getaway becomes essential for the survival of a mother and her children.

That Wasn’t Me (Aguel No Era Yo) tells the story of Paula, a social worker, who accompanies her boyfriend to Sierra Leone to aid and rescue child soldiers.

The Voorman Problem follows Doctor Williams as he examines the enigmatic Mr. Voorman, a prisoner with a peculiar affliction: he believes he is a god that created the universe nine days ago.

The Festival’s “Animation Shorts” program will include the Academy Award winning film Mr. Hublot and Academy Award nominee Feral. Mr. Hublot depicts the strange world of an obsessive-compulsive recluse with characters and objects fashioned from intricately detailed, salvaged materials. In Feral, a young boy is found in the wild and brought back to civilization.

Last year, the Festival expanded the popular “Family Shorts” program, a collection of delightful and engaging short films suitable for ages five and up, to a full weekend of showings at the Ashland Street Cinemas. This season, the AIFF continues to grow its family friendly programming with the Oscar-nominated animated feature, Ernest & Celestine. A curious and surprisingly open-minded mouse, Celestine, befriends Ernest, a down on his luck bear. The two take an immediate liking to each other in this charming, playful and beautifully animated film. Featuring Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, and William H. Macy, the film will enchant audiences of all ages.

Sandra Boynton, one of America’s best-loved artists and children’s book authors, will be in Ashland during the Festival with her newest short film, Alligator Stroll, playing in the “Family Shorts” program.  A gallery exhibit of whimsical and original images from her new book, Frog Trouble, will be held at Houston’s Custom Framing and Fine Art during the Festival.

The AIFF again presents some of the best new feature film work available on the festival circuit. Bluebird, featuring Amy Morton and John Slattery, explores the interconnectedness of a small town in the northern reaches of Maine when the local school bus driver becomes distracted during her end-of-day inspection. In the romantic adventure Just a Sigh, Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) embarks on a mysterious, off-kilter day with stranger (Gabriel Byrne), leading to what could be a new life for Alix.  Obvious Child is an unapologetically honest and authentic look at what happens when 27-year-old Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern gets dumped, loses her job, and discovers she’s pregnant — just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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.  On Friday morning, writers and directors will discuss the key contributions screenwriters make to non-fiction storytelling in Not the Same Old StoryThe Other Side of the Aisle on Saturday morning explores the interweaving of documentary and narrative filmmaking and what each genre can learn from each other. On Sunday morning the discussion shifts to fundraising, community building and outreach in Kickstarted: A Case Study.

 Many screenings feature 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.

Festival Memberships, 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 Kiosk on the Ashland Plaza, and at the Varsity Theatre April 3 – 7.

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