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'Captain Fantastic' director coming home to Ashland

Local report

Ashland native Matt Ross, the award-winning writer and director of the film "Captain Fantastic," will return to Ashland Tuesday, Aug. 23, for a showing of the film in conjunction with a benefit for the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Coming Attractions Theatre will host the special screening of the film at 6 p.m. in the Varsity Theatre. Richard Herskowitz, AIFF director of programming, will moderate a question-and-answer session with Ross immediately after the film, followed by a “meet the director” fundraising reception at Scarpetta Restaurant. Event details and tickets are available at ashlandfilm.org.

“Captain Fantastic,” Ross’s second feature film, premiered in January 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival, then played in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, where Ross won the Best Director prize. In addition, the film won the Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the Seattle International Film Festival.

“I saw and loved 'Captain Fantastic' at Sundance, and we pursued it for the festival," Herskowitz said in a release. "Matt Ross wanted very much to bring it to AIFF, but the scheduling did not work out … until now. Matt is coming home to Ashland in August, and I can’t wait to host a Q&A with this incredibly talented actor-director."

Ross, a graduate of Ashland High School, worked as an actor with such directors as Martin Scorsese on “The Aviator,” Mary Harron on “American Psycho” and Terry Gilliam on “12 Monkeys.” He played Alby Grant on “Big Love” and currently plays Gavin Belson on “Silicon Valley,” both on HBO.

His first feature, “28 Hotel Rooms,” premiered in the NEXT section at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.

In addition to winning awards, "Captain Fantastic" has earned warm reviews from critics.

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday wrote, “Working with a terrific ensemble of attractive young actors, Ross delivers a nuanced, lived-in, frequently very amusing contribution to an oeuvre that, at a time of discontent with the political and economic status quo, feels perfect both in its timing and its affectionately skeptical tone.”

The annual Ashland Independent Film Festival will be held April 6-10, and it is expected to screen 100-plus independently made documentary, narrative and short films at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory and Ashland Street Cinema.

The festival was named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine. The National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Endowment for the Arts have each twice awarded AIFF with festival support grants. For more information about the festival, see ashlandfilm.org.