The full schedule for the sixth annual Ashland Independent Film Festival is set.
Ninety-three documentaries, features, shorts and student films and will be shown on the five screens of the Varsity Theatre and the Historic Ashland Armory. The full schedule and film synopses is available at
Tickets go on sale to members on March 26 at 12 to 6 p.m., online at and at the AIFF pre-festival box office in the kiosk on the Plaza, downtown Ashland (new this year). The box office will also be open to members-only from — to 6 p.m., Tuesday March 27 to Sunday, April 1. Tickets are available to the general public beginning April 2 at 12. Memberships to the festival may also be purchased online and at the box office.
Guests will include Rogue Valley resident and cult star, Bruce Campbell with a sneak preview of his latest film. Documentary filmmaking legend Les Blank will receive the festival's Artistic Achievement Award and Rick Piltz, a scientist honored as a "truth-teller" by the National Press Club for releasing facts about global warming, will take questions after the documentary "Everything's Cool." Also featured will be the winners of The Launch, the festival's regional student film competition, including a high school student from Sutherlin.
Nine hundred and forty filmmakers from Ashland to Romania, India and many other spots on the globe sent their latest work to the AIFF to be considered for the 2007 event. After 100 community volunteers and the festival's programming staff spent five months screening, 93 of those films were chosen as an official selection of the sixth annual festival. The festival's line-up includes a mixture of short and full length documentaries and feature films including three Academy Award winners and four Oscar nominees.
While most of the film festivals around the country have venues spread out across town, the five screens in the art-deco Varsity create a living room atmosphere and the special film events at the Armory are nearby. This intimate setting, with engaged audiences and Ashland's scenic and cultural attributes, attract filmmakers from around the world to the AIFF. After the credits roll, the creators take part in question and answer sessions and this rare interaction with the director, writer or producer-and sometimes the actors. Audiences also have the opportunity for further discussion at free Filmmaker TALKback Forum sessions or at the afterLOUNGE at The Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant.
Rogue Award Winner, Bruce Campbell
Friday, April 13, the AIFF will present a "Rogue Award" to Bruce Campbell and audience members will be the first in the world see a sneak preview of his latest film, "My Name is Bruce." Shot in Ashland and other southern Oregon locations last summer with many local actors and crew, the film was produced by Dark Horse Entertainment of Portland, publishers of the graphic novel "300," a recent movie box office hit. Campbell will take questions after the sneak preview (schedule permitting).
"My Name Is Bruce" is the tale of a small town set upon by demons after a group of teen-agers unwittingly unleash an ancient curse. Campbell, playing himself, is kidnapped off the set of a B horror movie and, despite his protestations that he's just an actor, is forced to play the role of his heroic movie character in order to save the town. Also showing at the Armory April, 13 are "Bubba Ho-tep," "Evil Dead II" and "Army of Darkness."
In 1979, with his Detroit friends, including Sam Raimi ("Spider-Man"), Bruce Campbell raised $350,000 for a low-budget film, "Evil Dead," in which he starred as Ash. The film first gained notoriety in England where it became the best-selling video of 1983, beating out "The Shining." After it screened at Cannes, Stephen King dubbed it "the most ferociously original horror film of the year." "Evil Dead II" and "Army of Darkness" completed the trilogy.
The films launched Bruce Campbell into key roles in television. He starred in "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," and its follow-up, "Xena: Warrior Princess" and had a recurring role in Ellen.
Campbell's film work has also featured roles in "The Majestic," Raimi's blockbuster Spider-Man series and as Elvis in "Bubba Ho-tep." His memoir If "Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor," and novel "Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way" were back-to-back NY Times bestsellers.
Artistic Achievement Award Winner, Les Blank
Legendary documentary filmmaker Blank will be the recipient of the 2007 AIFF Artistic Achievement Award. The festival will present a retrospective of many of his films and a special work-in-progress screening of his latest projects. Les Blank is best known for poetic films that led John Rockwell of The New York Times to say "Blank is a documentarian of folk cultures who transforms anthropology into art." He has been honored with retrospectives at major museums and festivals across the world and his Burden of Dreams was given a British Academy Award .
The AIFF will feature one of Blank's first independent films, "The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins." The retrospective will also include his take on New Orleans music and Mardi Gras ("Always For Pleasure"); chef Alice Waters and other garlic fanatics ("Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers"); German filmmaker Werner Herzog ("Burden Of Dreams") and even Gap Toothed Women.
Special Film Programs at the Historic Ashland Armory
Saturday April 14
Les Blank's latest work, "The Tea Film" (working title), will be given a rare "work in progress" screening at the Armory and he will share some insight into his creative process. In the film, as the Chinese open their doors to the global marketplace, world-renowned American tea importer, David Lee Hoffman opens their eyes to their own ancient tradition and one of China's finest cultural gems &
the artistry and exquisite taste of fine, handmade tea. Admission to "The Tea Film" will include a cup of hand selected, organic Chinese tea from Chozu Bath and Tea Garden, Ashland.
Three other documentary films will receive special screenings at the Ashland Armory, Saturday, April 14. "Everything's Cool" features activists, scientists and politicians who have struggled to rouse the public and the federal government to take action on global warming, and the industry funded think-tanks and lobbyists who challenge and dismiss the issue as hysteria. From behind the scenes with the Weather Channel's global warming specialist to the saga of Rick Piltz, the whistle blower who left his job as Senior Associate at the U.S. Climate Change Science Center when the Bush Administration edited his research. This special film festival guest is now Director of Climate Science Watch &
a program of the Government Accountability Project in Washington, DC.
Piltz will attend a Saturday, April 14, — p.m. showing of "Everything's Cool" to share his experience and take questions. For 10 years he held senior positions in the programs the U.S. government uses to research climate and global environmental change. He resigned in protest in March 2005 and his revelations about the Bush Administration's politicization of climate science made the front page of the New York Times and drew international attention to the administrations attempts to downplay global warming. Piltz then testified at several Congressional hearings and was awarded the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling at the National Press Club and honored as a free speech defender by the National Coalition Against Censorship.
In Dr. Bronner's "Magic Soapbox" and "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama," Bronner addresses what all the words on the famous soap labels mean and the man behind them. Dr. Emanuel Bronner was a master soapmaker, self-proclaimed rabbi, and, allegedly, Albert Einstein's nephew. In 1947, after escaping from a mental institution, he invented Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, a peppermint-infused, all-natural, multi-purpose liquid that can be found today in every American health food stores. The film features archival footage of Dr. Bronner, and interviews with his son Ralph who plans to attend the Ashland screening to take audience questions.
Why do the poor often seem happier than the rich? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? These are some of the questions posed to the Dalai Lama by filmmaker Rick Ray in his "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama." Ray weaves together observations from his own journeys throughout India and the Middle East, and the wisdom of the spiritual leader. This story contains rare historical footage as well as film smuggled from modern Tibet. "10 Questions" was an official selection at the Amnesty International Film Festival.
The 2007 AIFF Opening Night Bash is April 12, 8 to 11 p.m. at the Ashland Springs Hotel and features Savor the Rogue, a tasting highlighting the Rogue Valley's many gourmet delicacies. The Bash is hosted by the internationally acclaimed Rogue Creamery and features their cheese, in addition to chocolate, meats, southern Oregon's wines, beer and more. A special film presentation, Grace's Visit to the Rogue River Valley, will show throughout the evening. Originally produced in 1914 to promote Southern Oregon at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, this Southern Oregon Historical Society film provides a rare glimpse into life in the Rogue Valley nearly a century ago.
The festival's Awards Celebration will take place April 15 at the Historic Ashland Armory, 7 to 11 p.m. The gala includes local wine, cocktails and entrees and desserts from many of the Rogue Valley's finest restaurants. The artistic achievement award will be presented, and seven juried prizes honoring the best of the 2007 festival will be awarded. The ceremony culminates with the announcements of the audience awards based on the tallying of thousands of ballots from festival screenings.
Special Programs Academy Award Winners
The annual AIFF Family Shorts Program includes short films for children from five to 85 and will feature the Academy Award winning "The Danish Poet," narrated by Liv Ullmann and several other short films
The Oscar's Short List program features the two films nominated for 2007 Academy Awards and another winner. "The Blood of Yingzhou District" won the Oscar for Best Documentary: Short Subject. It is an intimate look at the relatively unknown AIDS epidemic in rural China. The film reveals how traditional obligations of family and village collide with terror of infection, and how these forces play out in a young boy's life.
From the toxic depths of the largest landfill in Central America arises a beautiful story of the human spirit in the Oscar nominated "Recycled Life." For decades, the Guatemala City Garbage Dump and its inhabitants ("guajeros") who recycle the city's trash have been shunned by society and ignored by the government, until a disastrous and fateful event in January 2005 forever changed the face of this landfill and the many people who've called it home.
"The Little Match Girl," nominated for Best Animated Short, is Hans Christian Andersen's tale of a poor young girl who lights the matches she sells, and envisions images of loving relatives, bountiful food, and a place to call home.
As in previous years, the AIFF will offer Locals Only, a free program of works by Southern Oregon filmmakers. This year the number of local entries was so large, the festival will present two groups of local films. One program will feature the winners of The Launch, the festival's film competition for southern Oregon students. Other locally made short films in this program include "We're Saving the World," the story of what happens when a fifth grade class in southern Oregon decides to send copies of a book to all the governors in the United States.
The second Locals Only program includes "Storytellers," a look into the struggles and commitment of six actors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and "The Turning Point," about local filmmaker Ross Williams and his wife on their life altering journey towards parenthood.
Feature Films Include
For the second straight year, Sony Pictures Classics will provide the AIFF with a special opening night film Thursday, April 12. "Jindabyne," opening nationwide at theatres in late April, stars Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne. On an annual fishing trip, in isolated high country, three men find a girl's body in the river. The next morning, instead of making the long trek back, they spend the day fishing. Their decision to stay on at the river is a little mysterious-almost as if the place itself is exerting some kind of magic over them. The fishermen, their wives and their children are then haunted by their inaction.
"Ten Canoes" premiered at Cannes, winning the Special Jury Prize. The film, which was shot in the forests of Australia's remote far north, is the first feature film in the Aboriginal language (predominantly in Ganalbingu). In the distant past, tribal times, Dayindi covets one of the wives of his older brother. To teach him the proper way, he is told a story from the mythical past, a story of wrong love, kidnapping, sorcery, bungling mayhem and revenge gone wrong. Indigenous people from the area were involved at most levels of the production, from input into the script, editorial control, casting and selection of locations.
"Expiration Date" revolves around Native American Charles Silvercloud III whose grandfather and father were both killed by milk trucks on their 25th birthdays. Charlie is about to turn 25 and, having accepted his fate, is going about preparing for his death. Things take an unexpected turn when he meets a young woman who won't let him die in peace. Interwoven in the romantic comedy is Charlie's return to his indigenous roots through traditional dance. "Expiration Date" won Best Film and Best Actor at the American Indian Film Festival.
The story of a shy, aimless young man transplanted into post-Katrina New Orleans in the unlikely role of an insurance claims adjuster is told in "Low And Behold." Filmed on location in New Orleans in May 2006, it was made by a Louisiana native, and was written and stars a New Orleans resident. The filmmakers made a point of assembling a cast and crew almost entirely made up of locals, even filming non-actors in their actual storm damaged homes.
Equal parts black comedy, road movie and spiritual fairytale, "Wristcutters: A Love Story" could be advertised as "They're young, they're in love, and they're dead," as the film charts the path that one young man Zia, (Patrick Fugit, Almost Famous) takes to locate his equally dead girlfriend. Dark humor and a sense of impassioned romance coexist in an absurdist comedy about a man who won't let anything stand between him and the love of his life &
not even suicide, not even death. Tom Waits is among the new friends Zia encounters in a strange after-life.
For the first time a full length musical film struck the programmers of the AIFF as unique and powerful enough to be chosen as an official festival selection. "Colma: The Musical" is set in the suburban town of Colma, California, where the dead outnumber the living 1,500 to 1. It takes a personal look into the lives of three best friends who find themselves in a state of limbo; fresh out of high school, they are just beginning to explore a new world of late-night small-town romps while also being broadened by glimpses of a bigger life. Woven into the story are 13 musical numbers that will leave you singing along.
Among the documentary films "&
In an Indiana Jones meets Mother Teresa adventure, "Beyond the Call," three middle-aged, former soldiers travel the world delivering life saving humanitarian aid directly into the hands of civilians and doctors in some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on Earth, the front lines of war. Their personal convictions and courage drive them to places such as Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Burma, often when few if any other humanitarian aid organizations are around. The camera follows this trio as they take us on a journey into the heart of humanity and the soul of courage.
Filmmaker Adrian Belic will receive an AIFF Rogue Award and will show his 1999 Academy Award nominated "Genghis Blues." In this classic, Paul Pena, a blind bluesman, discovers Tuvan throatsinging on a shortwave program. Incredibly, Pena teaches himself the multi-harmonic ancient art through listening to recordings and travels to Tuva and becomes the first American ever to compete in an unusual contest of throatsinging. Pena is honored not only because he masters their cultural tradition, but as he learns to speak their language friendships flourishes.
"The Edge of Eden: Living with Grizzlies" is what Grizzly Man would have been if the subject was as sweet and smart as Canadian bear expert Charlie Russell. Through beautiful footage and amazing access we follow Russell as he rescues two orphaned cubs from a squalid Russian Zoo and takes them to his cabin in the picturesque remote Russian wilderness. Over the course of one season he is the cubs' surrogate mother as he teaches them everything he can about life in the wild. Russell learns that grizzlies are not the fearsome aggressive killers that so many believe but rather are a gentle peaceful creature and it is possible for man and bear to live together peacefully and safely.
"Make art not war" is Jimmy Mirikitani's motto. In "The Cats of Mirikitani," this 85-year-old Japanese American artist was born in Sacramento and raised in Hiroshima. By 2001 he is living on the streets of New York City. Jimmy's story comes full circle when he travels to reconnect with a community of former World War II internees at the site of his internment camp in Tule Lake, California and to see the sister he was separated from half a century ago.
"Manufactured Landscapes" showcases the work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky makes large-scale photographs of quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines, dams. He photographs civilization's materials and debris, but in a way people describe as "stunning" or "beautiful," and so raises all kinds of questions about ethics and aesthetics without trying to easily answer them. The film follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country photographing the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution.
"Our Daily Bread" reveals the little-known world of high-tech agriculture. In a series of continuously tracking, wide-screen images that seem right out of a science-fiction movie, we see the places where food is cultivated and processed: surreal landscapes optimized for agricultural machinery, and clean rooms in cool industrial buildings designed for maximum efficiency.
In the deeply personal memoir "Hear and Now," filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky documents her deaf parents' complex decision to leave their world of silence and undergo a dangerous surgery to get cochlear implants. At the age of 65, Paul and Sally Taylor decided they wanted to hear their first symphonies, hear their children's' voices, and talk on the phone. How will this operation transform them, their relationship with each other, and the deaf world they might leave behind? This is a love story of two people taking a journey from silence to sound.
More than 3,000 Latin Americans from Central America and Mexico a day embark upon on an extremely dangerous journey to North America. Less than 300 make it to their destination. "Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary" follows migrants leaving their homes in Nicaragua and their journeys through four countries. Through amazing access to the film's subjects, the immigrant paradox is witnessed: the closer they get to the 'free world', the less free they are and the more illegal they become.
"To err is human to air guitar is divine." "Air Guitar Nation" chronicles the birth of the U.S. Air Guitar Championships and the personal journeys of contestants who are vying to represent their country at the World Championships in Oulu, Finland. Every August thousands gather here to see the world's best air guitarists battle it out for 60 seconds of mock stardom.
Festival related art exhibit
Self-taught California artist, Emile Norman, at age 88, is still working with the same passion for life, art, nature and freedom that inspired him through seven decades of a changing art scene and turbulent times for a gay man in America. "By His Own Design" is the story of Emile's independent spirit: how it developed from his early days on a ranch in the San Gabriel Valley; brought him success in New York City in the 1940's and '50s; and gave him the confidence to leave the New York art scene and find freedom in Big Sur. Emile's art includes both small and intimate as well as massive projects like the commissioned "glass mural" in the Masonic Temple in San Francisco. His work will be on display at Houston's Custom Framing and Fine Art during the festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Regional Student Film Competition
The AIFF is collaborating with area middle and high schools to help their film and video programs have a lasting impact on young filmmakers. Programs for students during the festival include "The Launch," a regional student film competition; bringing filmmakers to the classrooms; bringing students to the films; and offering reduced price student tickets. For the second year the AIFF held a competition for the area's youngest filmmakers. "The Launch" encourages students to share their stories and inspires them to raise the level of their work and meet real world deadlines. The rules were simple: reside in Southern Oregon, attend school (K-12 or college), and create a new film under five minutes long.
Hands on Digital Media Workshop
MOJO Rising Workshop and Event Studio, in partnership with the AIFF, will present two days of hands-on digital media workshops during the festival. Instructors are Apple and Adobe-certified videographers from the Stanford University-based Digital Media Academy's faculty and Apple's Distinguished Educator program. The lab will feature 25 iMac G5s provided courtesy of Apple. Saturday, April 14, will be a full-day workshop using Final Cut Pro (pre-registration required); and Sunday, April 15, will feature four 1.5 hour sessions. For more information or to register, contact MOJO Rising at 324.7044 or mojorisingstudio.com.