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Film fest idea put to committee

ASHLAND-- The Ashland City Council declined to spend $5,000 on Tuesday to help create an Ashland Independent Film Festival, after the organizers for the event failed to show up at the council meeting.

Instead, they referred the funding request to the budget committee, which may fork over the money come spring.

It would have helped if they showed up, Mayor Cathy Shaw said. But it is a large request at this time of year.

Organizer Steven Wood said he had no idea the request was going before the council Tuesday. He said he was never notified.

I would have been more than thrilled to be there, he said when called after the meeting. We had people lined up to talk about this.

The organizers will continue to work to make the film festival a reality, he insisted. We're in this for the long haul, Wood said.

The film festival is scheduled to be held at both the Varsity Theater and Ashland Street Cinemas in October 2000. It will be produced by the nonprofit corporation, The Southern Oregon Film Society, and John Schweiger's company Coming Attractions, Inc., which owns the Varsity and Ashland Street Cinemas.

In a letter to the council requesting the money, Schweiger and Wood of the film society said the film festival will keep Ashland in front of the arts scene by producing a major-market American independent film festival. Festival promoters said the festival will premiere screenings of the finest films produced by American independent filmmakers.

Modeled after other domestic film festivals, the festival will feature awards, tributes and special screenings, as well as seminars, lectures and guest director workshops.

The promoters of the festival said the $5,000 would be used to hire consultants, Web site and logo design, database creation and other costs.

Shaw said she may be interested in helping out with city money, but only after she hears discussion of the project before a public body -- either the council or the budget committee.

It has a lot of merits to it, she said.