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Entries closed for next years Ashland Independent Film Festival

December 22, 2005

As of December 12, over 600 films had been entered in the Ashland Independent Film Festival and their Post Office box overflows every day with more submissions. The total received last year was 567, and there are just over 70 slots in the 2006 Festival scheduled for April 6-10. In 2004 only 325 films were entered so the number for the 2006 event will mark a more than doubling in two years. Again this year Southern Oregon Filmmakers can enter their films in the Festival&

s competition for free.

Entries for the 2006 Festival began arriving on August — and a team of over 100 community volunteers have been checking out the films, grading them on a 1-5 scale and returning them so the next volunteer can watch the movie and give their opinion. The films the community members rate the highest go on to the four member AIFF Board and Staff Programming Committee. If they make it past that team, the films are then included in the Programming final discussions in early January, when the films then must be narrowed to the over 70 official selections the audiences will see in April.

Student films

The Ashland Independent Film Festival is collaborating with area middle schools, high schools, colleges and Universities for multiple new and established festival education opportunities for their film and video programs and student filmmakers. The AIFF is working with public schools from the Illinois Valley to Grants Pass to Jackson County as well as Rogue Community College, College of the Siskiyous, SOU and Oregon technical Institute.

One program coordinated with the schools is The Launch, a short film competition open to all students in Southern Oregon. Local film and video instructors have suggested this will inspire their students to meet real world deadlines for their productions, raise the level of their work and experience the realities of film festival competitions — the first step for any aspiring filmmaker.

The competition will be divided into two age levels -Grades K-8, and 9-12. The time frame for the films is 2-5 minutes. The two winning students will receive a VIP/All Access Filmmaker Pass which will allow them to connect with visiting filmmakers from around the world at all public and filmmaker-only events. Film industry related prizes from editing software to camera gear are being considered as additional rewards for the students. Their prize winning films will receive a special screening at the Festival&

s Local Program scheduled twice during the festival. They will be introduced with the other filmmakers and take part in the Question and Answer session following the film screenings. The deadline for The Launch student competition is early January to allow local students more time to put the finishing touches on their productions.

The doubling of the number of entries into the Festival competition is one of the many leaps in growth the AIFF has experienced in recent years. In 2001 the founders and a group of 50 volunteers laid a foundation for a success with 3500 tickets going out and a hand-full of shows sold out. In April of 2005, the Festival screened 86 films on five screens in five days. Two-thirds of the shows were sold out with over 90 percent of the tickets distributed and 200 volunteers supported the effort. The 5th Annual AIFF will be held April 6-10, 2006 and the non-profit Ashland Independent Film Festival now presents films and educational programs years round.

From across the land

The majority of the Ashland Independent Film Festival goers are from the Rogue Valley, but the Festival has also quickly become a Mecca for film buffs from the West Coast and beyond. Located in the heart of historic downtown Ashland, the Varsity Theatre with its art deco façade and lobby has hosted all the screenings. This year a few special events will also be held at the Historic Ashland Armory.

Filmmakers love the festival&

s highly literate audience&

s interest in their art, as well as the town&

s natural and cultural attributes. Ashland&

s reputation has spread in the film industry helping boost the number of entries. "The Ashland Independent Film Festival is a coup - I just thought it was an astonishing event,&

said Jeannette Paulson Hereniko, founding director of Hawaii and Palm Springs International Film Festivals after her visit to Ashland in 2004. &

132;I believe Ashland is just as exciting for a film festival as Park City. It has the restaurants, the lodging, the convenience of the theater and the feel and the friendliness and interest of the people.&

Short and full length documentaries and feature films, student works, animation and more fill the screens of the festival for over five thousand people. &

What The

$*! Do We Know?&

and &

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill&

each won awards at early screenings in Ashland and went on to national attention and distribution. The Academy Award winning documentary &

Born into Brothels was also featured.&

Already on the slate

The full festival schedule is not announced until mid-February, but this year two films are being unveiled early. A Thousand Roads is the signature film of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall. It was chosen by the AIFF&

s Programming Committee and the 2006 Ashland Independent Film Festival will offer a rare chance to see the film without traveling to Washington, D.C.

The AIFF&

s 2006 official selection, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers will screen during the annual spring festival. The film tells the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French aerialist, and his daring 1974 high wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It is based on the 2004 Caldecott Medal winning children&

s book by Mordicai Gerstein. In a connection with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, UP a play that includes Petit as a metaphorical character, opens in February at the OSF&

s New Theatre.

Directed by award-winning American Indian filmmaker and Klamath Falls native Chris Eyre, A Thousand Roads is a fictional work that follows the lives of four contemporary American Indians: Mohawk stockbroker, ''hunting'' in the steel and glass canyons of Manhattan; a young Inupiat girl, journeying to a new life in Barrow, Alaska; a Navajo gang member, tending sheep alone on the mesas of New Mexico; and a Quechuan healer who journeys across the Sacred Valley of the Incas in an attempt to save a sick child. With epic-sized settings that include the crest of the Andes, the ice floes of Alaska, the mesas of New Mexico and the concrete canyons of Manhattan, A Thousand Roads takes viewers on a memorable Native journey. Native poet, activist and performer John Trudell narrates their journeys, drawing strength from their tribal past, to transcend the challenges of the day and embrace the promises that await them.