Ashland Independent Film Festival Releases Program for Virtual Festival



The 19th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival released its schedule for an interactive virtual festival that will capture the intimacy and magic of the annual Southern Oregon event popular with filmmakers and audiences.

Richard Herskowitz, AIFF Executive and Artistic Director, in a special 30-minute video available at www.ashlandfilm.org, will preview highlights of the 30 feature films and over 100 short films accepted to the annual April festival, which was cancelled by the coronavirus but which quickly moved to an expanded online event.

The virtual festival breaks ground with more than 30 post-film Q&A’s with filmmakers and other luminaries including New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Nicholas Kristof, playwright Octavio Solis, film scholar B. Ruby Rich, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, cinematographer Ellen Kuras, and Academy Award winning editor Walter Murch.

Tickets and memberships, which include access to special events, are available at www.ashlandfilm.org.

The Festival launches on Thursday, May 22, with Barbara Kopple’s Desert One, her new documentary about the secret mission to free American hostages captured during the 1979 Iranian revolution. Kopple, winner of AIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, will discuss the film in a post-film Q&A with film critic Godfrey Cheshire.

Kopple’s opening night film will be followed by a Virtual Opening Night Bash, an online party with live music, dancing, and filmmaker presentations open to viewers with AIFF memberships, available online now. The festival will continue through June 14 and end with an Awards Night event open to AIFF members and hosted by Bruce Campbell, the actor best known as Ash from The Evil Dead. Campbell will present jury award winners with $10,000 in prize money raised during a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Once again, Herskowitz has assembled a provocative collection of new independent films that feature diversity and take on themes long neglected by the Hollywood mainstream, including activism and immigration.

“We are devoting individual days of the week to thematic tracks that bring out the current concerns of independent filmmakers,” says Herskowitz. “Our filmmakers address the situations of immigrants and ethnic groups whose voices have been neglected or demonized by mainstream films.”

The Ashland festival is adopting an innovative structure for the presentation of its selections. More than 75 short films have been collected into nine curated programs with themes such as “American Portraits” and “CineSpace” that will be accessible to AIFF2020 subscribers throughout the 24 days of the festival. Feature films will be released as “Features of the Day,” with most films available for 24-hours (and a handful for shorter periods), each introduced by their directors and followed by prerecorded Q&A’s. Among the 30 feature films highlighted are narrative features Murmur by Heather Young and The Twentieth Century by Matthew Rankin and documentaries such as David Garrett Byars’ Public Trust and Sara Dosa’s The Seer and the Unseen. Most filmmakers will be available to answer questions from audience members on the festival’s Facebook page on the days of their screenings.

AIFF2020 will be hosted online by Film Festival Flix and can be accessed on its website or on Film Festival Flix TV and mobile apps from May 22 – June 14. Over 75% of the festival’s programs will be available nationwide, and 100% can be accessed throughout the state of Oregon.

Details about how to participate in and contribute to the virtual Ashland Independent Film Festival are at www.ashlandfilm.org.

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