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Ashland film festival winners announced

Nine out of 93 films and three filmmakers received awards Sunday at the sixth annual Ashland Independent Film Festival, held Thursday through Monday.

More than 15,000 tickets were sold, breaking last year's record of 14,000.

"We are overwhelmed by the community and visitor response," said festival Executive Director Tom Olbrich.

"It is a great tribute to the work of the filmmakers."

About 940 filmmakers from around the world sent their latest works to be considered for the festival. A committee of 100 volunteers and festival staff screened the pool down to 93 during a five-month period.

The festival included a mix of short and full-length documentaries and feature films, including three Academy Award winners and four Oscar nominees.

In the three award categories chosen by audience vote, the winners were:

  • John C. Schweiger Audience Award for Best Dramatic Feature: "Wristcutters: A Love Story."
  • Rogue Creamery Audience Award Feature Documentary: "Beyond the Call."
  • Audience Award for Best Short Film: "Full Disclosure."

In the judged categories, the winners were:

  • Gerald Hirschfeld A.S.C. Award for Best Cinematography: "Expiration Date."
  • Best Feature and Best Acting Ensemble: "Stranded."
  • Best Documentary, Feature Length: "Our Daily Bread."
  • Best Documentary, Short Subject: "Dear Talula."
  • Best Narrative, Short Film: "The Fan and the Flower."
  • Best Student Film: "Zombie Prom."
  • Filmmaker Les Blank was given the Artistic Achievement Award. The festival honored Blank with live and recorded tributes from his colleagues, including video sent by internationally renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog. 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 festival's presentation of Blank's work included a retrospective of his classic films, and "The Tea Film" (working title) was given a rare "work in progress" screening after which Blank shared some insight into his creative process.

  • Bruce Campbell of Jacksonville was given the first Rogue Award for his years of filmmaking "on the edge." His latest film, "My Name is Bruce," was given a sneak preview screening to a sold-out crowd of more than 500 people late Friday at the Armory. Shot in Ashland and other Southern Oregon locations last summer, the film was produced by Dark Horse Entertainment.
  • Also given the Rogue Award was Adrian Belic, filmmaker of "Beyond the Call."

In a separate regional student film competition for grades kindergarten through college, called "The Launch," the winners, out of 46 entries, were:

  • Grades K-5: "Blender Blues," directed by The Blenders of Walker Elementary in Ashland.
  • Grades 6-8: "Dragon's Lair," directed by Rowan Heglie of Willow Wind School in Ashland.
  • Grades 9-12: "Bound to Silence," directed by Stacey Chamberlin of Sutherlin High.
  • College: "Bass Ackwards," directed by Jacob Nelson of Loyola Marymount University.

“Beyond the Call” won the Rogue Creamery Audience Award Feature Documentary at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The film is described as an Indiana Jones meets Mother Teresa adventure. It follows three middle-aged, former soldiers traveling the world delivering life-saving humanitarian aid to civilians and doctors in some of the most dangerous 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 other humanitarian aid organizations are around.