Ashland Independent Film Festival’s director Richard Herskowitz believes that filmmakers’ exposure to classic films inspires them to question and reinvent filmmaking conventions, he says in a press release.
The emphasis on classic film is highlighted in this year’s AIFF poster, based on images from the animated films of Colorado artist and filmmaker Stacey Steers.
Steers’ trilogy of animated films features collages of silent film actresses. Her 19-minute film “Edge of Alchemy” is made of more than 6,000 images of silent era actors Mary Pickford and Janet Gaynor from the ’20s. “Night Hunter” is meticulously crafted from images of Lillian Gish, and “Phantom Canyon” is constructed from copies of 18th- and 19th-century engravings and figures from Eadweard Muybridge’s “Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs.”
Steers’ trilogy will be presented at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Music Recital Hall, 405 S. Mountain Ave., on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland.
The trilogy will play with Russian film poet Evgeni Bauer’s 1916 macabre silent film “The Dying Swan.”
Composers Tessa Brinckman and Terry Longshore perform a live, original score to Steers’ trilogy, while a live score by Joby Talbot — performed by violinist Jessica Lambert and cellist Michal Palzewicz — will accompany “Swan.”
This new take on classic silent films is just one the exciting highlights of AIFF’s annual mission to promote the evolving movie culture in America.
The festival runs Thursday through Monday, April 12-16, with events taking place at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, Ashland Springs Hotel and Ashland Street Cinemas, along with a new venue in Medford — Collaborative Theatre Project.
An AIFF schedule, including showtimes, live performances, art exhibits, filmmaker discussion panels, children’s programs and more is available at ashlandfilm.org. Tickets to all shows and events are available at the website and the information kiosk on the Ashland Plaza.
This year, AIFF will present its Rogue Awards to Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper and Seattle-based director Lynn Shelton.
Cooper won an Academy Award in 2002 for his supporting role in “Adaptation,” starring Meryl Streep. His role as a homophobic Marine Corps colonel in “American Beauty” became his breakout role with film critics.
Cooper and his wife, Marianne Leone Cooper, married in 1983. Their son, Jesse, was born prematurely and developed cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The couple became champions for kids with special needs. Their son lived to be 17, a high school honor student.
The Coopers are executive producers of “Intelligent Lives,” to be premiered at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Historic Ashland Armory. Directed by Dan Habib, the film explores society’s narrow views of intelligence and focuses on three young Americans who challenge those perceptions as they navigate high school, college and the workforce. Chris Cooper will narrate the film.
He will join moderator Warren Etheredge of TheFilmSchool in Seattle for an AIFF TalkBack, “Talking Acting,” at 10 a.m. Friday, April 13, at Ashland Springs Hotel.
Herskowitz notes that 42 percent of this year’s films are directed by women, according to a story in the Ashland Daily Tidings.
One of them, Rogue Award-winner Shelton, will present her sixth feature film, “Outside In,” starring Edie Falco and Jay Duplass, at the festival. Shelton broke onto the independent film scene at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival with her Grand Jury Award-winning “We Go Way Back.” Her films have garnered awards at Sundance, the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Laura VanZee Taylor, a graduate of South Medford High School, will present her documentary, “I Am Maris,” about a young woman hospitalized for anorexia nervosa. Confronting buried emotions, Maris travels from despair to self-acceptance in this meaningful film providing insight into life-affirming transformation.
Out of Portland comes Lindsey Grayzel’s “The Reluctant Radical,” a film about environmental activist Ken Ward, who takes direct action — with bolt-cutters — against the fossil fuel industry. “Radical” plays with Anne Flatte’s short documentary “A Symphony for Nature: The Britt Orchestra at Crater Lake,” a chronicle of the premiere of Michael Gordon’s “Natural History,” an original score inspired by and performed by Teddy Abrams and the Britt Orchestra at Crater Lake National Monument.
James Ivory, recipient of AIFF’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, returns to present the restored classic “Shakespeare Wallah.” In 1965, the film put Merchant Ivory Productions on the international movie map. Ivory and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director Bill Rauch will join in a conversation after the screening.
At Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford, AIFF will present Kid Flix: Best of the New York Children’s International Film Festival at 10 a.m. Monday, April 14; “Liyana,” co-directed by Aaron and Amanda Kopp, an African tale about five orphaned children who draw perserverence from their darkest memories to create their brightest dreams, will play at 1 p.m. Monday, April 14; and “A River Below,” a look at the Amazon and actions of environmental activists produced by Mike Erwin of Jacksonville, will show at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 16.