Ashland Independent Film Festival Announces Program Details

The Ashland Independent Film Festival has announced its lineup for the five-day, five-night festival April 6-10 in venues across Ashland. The 16th annual festival will give a nod to both the future and past with an exciting lineup that pays tribute to the roots of independent film, and new collaborations between film, art, and live performance.

The year’s lineup includes over 100 films that were narrowed down from more than 800 films submitted to the festival, or specially selected by AIFF Director Richard Herskowitz. The entire program, including information about show times, live performances, art installations, filmmaker TalkBack panels, children’s programs, community conversations, and more is now online at

Director James Ivory

AIFF is honored to present acclaimed director and Klamath Falls native James Ivory with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Ivory was co-founder of Merchant Ivory Productions with the late Ismail Merchant. Together, they made 24 feature films over their 44‐year partnership—the longest in filmmaking history. In addition to attending a 30th anniversary screening of Maurice and 25th anniversary presentation of Howards End, Ivory will participate in “Cinematic Literature,” a Filmmaker TalkBack Panel moderated by Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch with innovative Argentine filmmaker Matías Piñeiro. Piñeiro will present three films inspired by Shakespeare heroines in the festival (Viola, Rosalinda, and Hermia & Helena). Other special festival guests receiving awards include Alex Cox (Rogue Award), director of Repo Man and Sid and Nancy, who will present the world premiere of Tombstone Rashomon and host a screening of McCabe and Mrs. Miller followed by a conversation with the film’s art director Philip Thomas; Rachel Lambert (AIFF/POWFest Faerie Godmother Award), presenting In the Radiant City, and Jenni Olson (Pride Award), screening The Freedom to Marry and The Royal Road.

“When the Mountains Tremble” Film Still

AIFF is reaffirming its mission to promote independent filmmaking by honoring production, distribution, and exhibition companies that have built the infrastructure of the independent film movement, and challenged Hollywood’s dominance. This year, tribute will be paid to Zeitgeist Films, the distributor of the first films by Todd Haynes, Atom Egoyan, Christopher Nolan, and other indie film legends, as co-founder Nancy Gerstman will be joined by director Daniel Raim to present Zeitgeist’s newest release, Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love StorySkylight, devoted for over thirty years to producing films that strengthen human rights and social justice, will be honored with the U.S. premiere of their complete Resistance Saga, which includes When the Mountain Trembles (1983), Granito- How to Nail a Dictator (2010), and 500 Years (2017), to be presented by director Pamela Yates and producer Paco de Onis.

Dolores Huerta at the Delano Strike in 1966. Photo by Jon Lewis, courtesy of LeRoy Chatfield.

Reflecting the growing determination by independent directors to make films that challenge the fears and hostilities stoked by a radically conservative administration, the Skylight tribute will be supplemented by a larger focus on Activism and Film. The festival’s opening night screening on April 6 will be Dolores, a film that reclaims the historical importance of Dolores Huerta, who built the United Farmworkers union alongside Cesar Chavez.  Attending the screening will be director Peter Bratt, who made the 1996 film Follow Me Home starring his brother Benjamin Bratt, and who has recently joined the growing community of filmmakers residing in Ashland. According to festival director Richard Herskowitz: “In two TalkBack panels and many screenings, AIFF2017 will foreground the voices of activist filmmakers who, through the example of their own commitment and that of their activist subjects, show how power that seems entrenched and overwhelming can be resisted and retaken.” The TalkBack panels on April 7 and 8 will address the subjects of “Filming Activists” and “Indie Documentary Journalism in the Age of Fake News,” featuring the filmmakers of festival films Whose Streets?What Lies Upstream, and Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press? .

Vanessa Renwick’s “Medusa Smack”

Expanded Cinema works that go beyond the theater screen will continue this year at the Schneider Museum of Art and ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. At the Schneider, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in playful and innovative media art, including renowned Portland artist Vanessa Renwick’s interactive installation Medusa Smack—a “jellyfish tent” of meditative music and images. Renwick’s piece is part of the exhibition co-curated by Herskowitz and Schneider Museum director Scott Malbaurn, “Convergence: Digital Media and Technology,” opening on April 5. On April 8, Renwick will be joined by musician Tara Jane O’Neil to perform the score of Medusa Smack live followed by Vanessa’s three-screen projection piece, Hope and Prey, which features stunning cinematography of wolves in the wild. ScienceWorks will host a Virtual Reality Gallery where visitors can experience an array of innovative animations created expressly for virtual reality, and explore VR documentaries with filmmaker Drea Cooper.

“Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Good Time Fun Fun Show” Film Still

More live performances are on the festival roster. During the screening of the silent documentary Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles, director Rick Prelinger will lead the audience in spontaneous commentary as absorbing archival images of Los Angeles unfold. In addition, there will be a musical performance after the documentary Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Good Time Fun Fun Show from Slanty Eyed Mama, the group featured in the film.

Many screenings feature Q&A sessions with the over 100 visiting filmmakers and film subjects attending the festival. Audiences will have the opportunity to rub elbows with filmmakers over a late-night drink at the AIFF AfterLounge, hosted by a different restaurant every night. The physical box office is located at the Information Kiosk at the Downtown Ashland Plaza beginning March 20, 2017. Ticket ordering begins for AIFF Members on March 20 for the general public on March 26. Memberships, tickets, as well as more information about films, special events, and parties are available online at


The Ashland Independent Film Festival screens 100-plus independent documentary, narrative, animated, and short films at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, and the Ashland Street Cinema each April. Praised by filmgoers for the intimate access they have to filmmakers, and by filmmakers for the warm and intelligent reception they receive, the Ashland Independent Film Festival was recently named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine. The National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Endowment for the Arts have each twice awarded AIFF with rare festival support grants. The 16th annual festival will be held April 6-10, 2017.

FESTIVAL FILMS (* Filmmaker or Representative Scheduled to Attend)

2017 Documentary Feature Selections

*500 Years
Pamela Yates

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Steve James

Acts and Intermissions
Abigail Child

*Buzz One Four
Matt McCormick

City of Joy
Madeleine Gavin

*Cocksucker Blues
Robert Frank

Peter Bratt

*Earth Seasson…#GapYear
Molly Kreuzman

*Following Seas
Tyler Kelley, Araby Kelley

*The Freedom to Marry
Eddie Rosenstein

*Granito: How to Nail a Dictator
Pamela Yates

*The Groove is Not Trivial
Tommie Dell Smith

Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show with Slanty Eyed Mama live! 
Carrie Preston

*Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story
Daniel Raim

*I Am Another You
Nanfu Wang

*Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles
Rick Prelinger

*Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press
Brian Knappenberger

Jonathan Olshefski

*The Royal Road
Jenni Olson

Thomas Lennon

Score: A Film Music Documentary  with Joby Talbot
Matt Schrader

Jacques Cluzaud, Jacques Perrin


Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen

This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
Barbara Kopple

*Una Nueva Tierra
Jackie Munro, Jesse Fisher

Jennifer Brea

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Jennifer M. Kroot

*What Lies Upstream
Cullen Hoback

*When the Mountains Tremble
Pamela Yates

*Whose Streets?
Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis

2017 Narrative Feature Selections

Cheryl Nichols

*For Now
Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes

*Hermia & Helena
Matias Piñeiro

The Hero
Brett Haley

*Howards End
James Ivory

*In the Radiant City
Rachel Lambert

James Ivory

*McCabe and Mrs. Miller with Alex Cox and Philip Thomas
Robert Altman

*The Missing Sun
Brennan Vance

*My First Kiss and the People Involved
Luigi Campi

*Pushing Dead
Tom E. Brown

Matias Piñeiro

*Strange Weather
Katherine Dieckmann

*Tombstone Rashomon
Alex Cox

Matias Piñeiro

2017 Short Film Programs

*After Hours Shorts

*Animators of LAIKA with Mark Shapiro


*Finding Refuge

Kid Flix

*Locals Only 1: Family Friendly (including LAUNCH)

*Locals Only 2: Local Matters

*Locals Only 3: Potpourri

*NLFU: Films by Vanessa Renwick

*Short Docs

*Short Stories 1

*Short Stories 2

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