The Ashland Independent Film Festival moves outdoors June 24-28 with live musical and cinematic events for the “second act” of its 20th anniversary celebration.
AIFF held an online virtual festival in April. During its five-day summer encore, the festival will continue its tradition of reaching beyond film to celebrate all the arts.
In addition to screening films each evening, AIFF also will present live musical opening acts, showcase animation at its Ashland film center, and co-present an exhibition of media art at the Schneider Museum of Art.
Food trucks will be on the premises at both screening venues.
Festival events are scheduled at four different locations.
At ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, 1500 E. Main St. in Ashland, viewers will watch films projected on a large outdoor screen in the field facing the building.
At Walkabout Brewing Company, 921 Mason Way in Medford, attendees will fill the spacious backyard, facing a big screen and stage.
At the downtown AIFF Film Center, 389 E. Main St. in Ashland, San Francisco-based animator and musician Jeremy Rourke will create and perform his animated films and songs in the center’s window.
And the Schneider Museum, at 555 Indiana St. in Ashland, will present “Collecting Cuba: Selections from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit ties in with two of AIFF’s summer films, “Havana Libre” and “The Mali-Cuba Connection/Africa Mia.”
AIFF Executive Director Richard Herskowitz is gratified to be able to have live screenings after more than a year of pandemic shutdown.
“I’m most excited about our opening and closing nights,” he said. “We launch on June 24 at ScienceWorks with fanfares performed by the Rogue Valley Symphony, written to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Also on the musical bill is Brie Howard-Darling, a founding member of the band, Fanny.”
Fanny is the all-woman Filipina-American band featured in the opening night film, “Fanny: The Right to Rock.”
“The musical pairing of Fanny and the Rogue Valley Symphony will certainly be one for the ages,” Herskowitz said.
“Fanny” recounts the previously untold story of three Filipina-American teens who founded a garage band in the 1960s that morphed into the ferocious California rock group, Fanny.
“The closing night party may be even more spectacular,” Herskowitz said.
The coincidence of the 20th anniversary of both the festival and the film, “Hedwig & The Angry Inch,” provides an opportunity to try out an idea AIFF has been contemplating for years: an annual “CineMasque” party focused on a classic film.
“Actors will perform scenes from the film and audience members are encouraged, but not required, to come in costume,” Herskowitz said.
OSF actor Eddie Lopez, who once played Hedwig at an OSF Daedalus show, will host the evening in the role of Hedwig, performing songs from the movie with guitarist Dan Sherrill and introducing drag performer and recent SOU alumnus Bettie Wood (Miles Jessen Smith).
“We also are planning to have Eddie, as Hedwig, Skype live with the role’s creator, John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote and originated the role,” Herskowitz said. After the opening festivities, the film will be screened. Closing night will be at ScienceWorks.
Thanks to a grant from Travel Oregon, AIFF recently acquired a new, 20-foot blow-up screen for the ScienceWorks screenings.
“We purchased an amazing projection system that we are hoping to use again at ScienceWorks and at other sites around the region,” Herskowitz said. “The Walkabout Brewery screen is borrowed from our friends at the Collaborative Theater Project in Medford.”
Although the bands that play before the films each night will use AIFF’s speaker sound systems, when the sun goes down and film comes on, the soundtrack will be coming through headphones.
“We’re renting the headphone system from Silent Movement International,” he said. “They’re the company that hosts the Silent Disco and summer movie events in Lithia Park. The sound is great and the neighbors will have nothing to complain about.”
The festival encourages people to bring blankets or low-height chairs for seating. There are a few picnic tables at the Walkabout Brewery venue, but those are likely to be claimed early. Gates open at 7:15 p.m. and live music starts at 7:30.
Animator Rourke’s programs are free to the public at the AIFF Film Center, Thursday through Sunday.
He’ll bring his mobile animation workspace to the center’s window gallery June 24-25 from 11 to 4, 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 June 26-27, Rourke will present 20-minute window performances of his songs and animations, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. First-come, first-served seating will be provided on the sidewalk outside the gallery.
There will be one indoor event.
“This whole outdoor festival is a careful step back to live event presentations,” Herskowitz said, “which was our forte before we became virtual cinema specialists.
“Watching films outdoors is obviously safer and more comfortable for many, but we are also planning our first indoor event, a “TalkBack” featuring three animators in our festival program,” he said.
The TalkBack program will be held Friday, June 25, at 4 p.m. in the AIFF Film Center theater at 389 E. Main St. in Ashland.
“We’ve been eager to use this space since we moved in and built it in January of 2020,” Herskowitz said. “We will require proof of vaccination from each of the 20 people who reserve tickets for this event.”
AIFF will record the TalkBack for future presentation on YouTube. Brandon Givens of the SOU Digital Media Center will supervise the recording of live events at the festival for a documentary AIFF hopes to make available online at a later date.
For tickets and more information, go to ashlandfilm.org or call 541-488-3823. Ticket prices range from free to $12 ($10 for members, seniors, students, and those with financial hardship).
Masks are required and current physical distancing guidelines will be enforced.
Thursday, June 24
11 to 4: Jeremy Rourke live animation studio, AIFF Film Center.
7:30 p.m.: RVS fanfares, followed by screening of “Traveling Fanfares,” a short documentary of RVS performances for first responders, and a performance by Brie Howard-Darling, Fanny founding member, ScienceWorks.
8:45 p.m.: Screening, “Fanny: The Right to Rock,” introduced by filmmaker Bobbi Jo Hart, ScienceWorks.
Friday, June 25
11 to 4: Live animation studio, film center.
4 p.m.: Talkback, free, film center.
7:30 p.m.: Son de Cuba, Afro-Cuban music, Walkabout Brewing Co.
8:45 p.m.: Screening, “The Mali-Cuba Connection/Africa Mia,” Walkabout.
Saturday, June 26
11 to 4:30: Rourke, expanded cinema performance, film center.
7:30 p.m.: Clayton Joseph Scott, roots/rock music, ScienceWorks.
8:45 p.m.: Screenings, animated short “Metro6” and “Weed & Wine,” ScienceWorks.
Sunday, June 27
11 to 4:30: Expanded cinema performance, film center.
7:30 p.m.: The Reverberays, surf-rock music, Walkabout.
8:45 p.m.: Screening, “Havana Libre,” Walkabout.
Monday, June 28
7:30 p.m.: Host Eddie Lopez as Hedwig, drag performer Bettie Wood, guitarist Dan Sherrill, costume competition, ScienceWorks.
8:45 p.m.: Screening, “Hedwig & The Angry Inch,” Scienceworks.