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Actress Hunt, documentarian will be in Ashland for film festival

Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt will be in the Rogue Valley for this year's Ashland Independent Film Festival.

The seventh annual festival, April 3-7 at the Varsity Theatre and Historic Ashland Armory, also will have as special guest Oscar-nominated documentarian Albert Maysles.

It will feature 87 films and many filmmakers, including two Academy Award winners (Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short) and six Oscar-nominees. The full 2008 festival schedule will be available at ashlandfilm.org March 3.

Hunt will receive the festival's Rogue Award for her directorial debut, "Then She Found Me," which she also wrote and stars in. She is set to attend the festival's screening of the film and take questions.

The festival will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Maysles, whom The New York Times called "the dean of documentary filmmaking." There will be screenings of three of his films — "Gimme Shelter," his chronicle of the Rolling Stones' 1969 tour; "Grey Gardens," a portrait of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Little Edie, high society dropouts and reclusive cousins of Jackie Kennedy Onassis; and "The Gates," a look at Christo's 2005 Central Park public art project of the same name.

Tickets for the festival go on sale for select members on March 13 and to the public March 22.

— Anita Burke