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AIFF ‘double feature’ Part II goes live and outdoors

A still from the animated short Metro6, part of the Ashland Independent Film Festival’s live and outdoor events planned Thursday through Monday, June 24-28. Courtesy image.

The Ashland Independent Film Festival will present a full selection of musical and cinematic events scheduled for its live and outdoor film festival running Thursday through Monday, June 24-28, at venues in Ashland and Medford.

At Scienceworks Hands-On Museum, viewers will watch films projected on a large outdoor screen in the field facing the building, while at Walkabout Brewing Company in Medford, viewers will fill the spacious backyard, facing the big screen and stage. Each screening at these two venues will be accompanied by live musical performers, food carts and beverages. Media art will be on view at the Schneider Museum of Art on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland, where AIFF is co-presenting the “Collecting Cuba: Selections from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art” exhibition, and at the AIFF Film Center, 839 E. Main St., Ashland, where animator and musician Jeremy Rourke will create and perform his animated films and songs in the Film Center window.

The five-day festival is part two of AIFF’s virtual and live “double feature” that was scheduled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A virtual film festival was held April 15-29.

Part two will kick off with a bang — the Rogue Valley Symphony premiering two new fanfares written especially for the occasion of the festival’s 20th anniversary. A new short film about the symphony’s performances for first responders during the pandemic, “Traveling Fanfares,” directed by AIFF 2021 Lee Fuchsmann Award winner Laney D’Aquino, will follow. Filmmaker Bobbi Jo Hart will introduce “Fanny: The Right to Rock,” recounting the incredible, untold story of three Filipina American teens who self-founded a garage band in the 1960s that morphed into the ferocious California rock group Fanny. Finally, Brie Howard-Darling, a founding member of Fanny, will perform live with Dave Darling on the festival stage.

The festival ends with a closing night “CineMasque”— an open-air party with live music, film and costumes celebrating the 20th anniversary of both AIFF and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The screening of “Hedwig” will be preceded by an introduction from the film’s producer, AIFF 2021 Rogue Award Winner Christine Vachon. Guests are encouraged to “Glam it Up” for a costume competition: best costume inspired by “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Eddie Lopez, a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company for eight seasons, will host the festivities in the role of Hedwig, perform songs from the musical accompanied by guitarist Dan Sherrill, and introduce songs by the drag performer Bettie Wood. Lopez, as Hedwig, also will conduct a live Skype interview with Hedwig’s creator John Cameron Mitchell, who is currently shooting a film in Australia.

“These five days of live events fully celebrate our 20th anniversary and our festival’s tradition of reaching beyond film to celebrate all the arts,” Richard Herskowitz, AIFF artistic director, stated in a press release. “Everyone who joins us in this amazing lineup of films, music and visual art will have rich memories of shared experiences.”

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 24-25, San Francisco-based animator and musician Jeremy Rourke,will bring his mobile animation workspace to the AIFF Film Center window gallery, creating and animating paper puppets and engaging with passersby. A self-taught animator eschewing digital effects for hands-on techniques, his animation table is full of paper ephemera, photo-puppets, clay, paint, pencils, lights and flora. On Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Rourke will offer 20-minute window performances of his songs and animations on the hour. First-come, first-served seating will be provided on the sidewalk outside the window gallery.

The festival also will host a talkback, “The Independent Animator,” with Rourke, Geoff Hecht and Deanna Morse at 4 p.m. Friday, June 25, at the AIFF Film Center. These three animators in the AIFF 2021 program will present samples of their work and discuss their careers as independent film animators. This indoor talkback is free, with a capacity of 20 fully vaccinated people.

As part of the festival’s ongoing “Screening Cuba” theme, the festival will present “The Mali-Cuba Connection/Africa Mia,” a story of 10 young musicians from Mali sent to Cuba during the Cold War, who invented a new genre: Afro-Cuban Music. To set the mood, Son de Cuba, a Portland-based group of musicians from Chile, Mexico, USA and Cuba, will perform, and dancing is encouraged. The band plays different genres from salsa, timba, son, merengue, boleros, cumbia, bachata, and Latin to jazz.

A story about underground surf culture in Cuba, “Havana Libre,” also will screen, accompanied by its editor and cinematographer, Seth Brown. It’s a tale about surfers who dodge authorities in search of the perfect wave. Surfing and other water activities have been banned for decades, based on the fear that people will use surfboards to leave the island. In keeping with the surf theme, the Rogue Valley-based band The Reverberays will play favorite surf-rock tunes — with plenty of reverb.

The festival’s feature documentary “Weed & Wine” interweaves the stories of two farming families, continents apart from one another, both aiming to reinvent themselves on their land. One family — a strong-willed French matriarch and the son she raised among her vines — tends a centuries-old, biodynamic vineyard in the Southern Rhône. Across the ocean in Humboldt, California, another family — a brash father and his more reserved son (Kevin and Cona Godrey, who will attend the event) — carefully manage a state-recognized, organic cannabis farm. This screening will be preceded by live music from Clayton Joseph Scott, a roots/rock performer formerly with the band Brightside, whose songs deliver a positive message while invigorating audiences to listen and dance with a purpose. The evening also features the 8-minute animated short “Metro6,” introduced by director Geoff Hecht.

Tickets for the events rage in price from free to $12, with discounts for students, seniors and those facing financial hardship. For a full schedule of event details, showtimes and to purchase tickets, see ashlandfilm.org. For questions, email at info@ashlandfilm.org or call 541-488-3823.

Screenings at ScienceWorks and Walkabout Brewery

For all film screenings at Ashland and Medford: Doors open at 7:15 p.m., live music will be performed from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., and the film showing will begin at 8:45 p.m.

June 24

Venue: ScienceWorks, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland.

“Traveling Fanfares” and “Fanny: The Right to Rock”

Live Music: Brie Howard-Darling with Dave Darling, and “Fanfares” performed live by the Rogue Valley Symphony

June 25

Venue: Walkabout Brewery,

920 Mason Way, Medford.

“The Mali-Cuba Connection/ Africa Mia”

Live Music: Son de Cuba (trio)

June 26

Venue: ScienceWorks

“Metro6” (short film)

“Weed & Wine”

Live Music: Clayton Joseph Scott

June 27

Venue: Walkabout Brewery

“Havana Libre”

Live Music: The Reverberays

June 28

Venue: ScienceWorks

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” CineMasque: A 20th anniversary celebration of “Hedwig” and AIFF

Host and Musical Performer: Eddie Lopez as Hedwig

Music/Performance: Bettie Wood (Miles Jessen Smith)

Special Guests: Christine Vachon and John Cameron Mitchell (via Skype)

AIFF Film Center: Animator/Musician Jeremy Rourke

11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

June 24-25: Live Animation Studio

June 25-26: Animated Film and Live Music Performances

Schneider Museum of Art

Collecting Cuba: Selections from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art: See listing under Art Galleries, page 19.