Above: Tom Kalin, Marcus Hu, and B. Ruby Rich discuss 30/30 Vision: 30 Years of Strand Releasing
BY RICHARD HERSKOWITZ
As I’m writing this, we have conducted over 20 Q&A’s with our AIFF2020 filmmakers, half the number we will ultimately reach. Each of these interviews will be placed at the end of the short and feature length programs in our Virtual Festival, exactly as they would have appeared if you were in the theater, and the filmmakers stepped to the front to answer your questions.
Of course, you are not getting to ask the questions yourselves. This is why we are asking our feature filmmakers, on the day each of their films screen as our “Feature of the Day” during the May 22 – June 14 festival, to keep tabs on our Facebook page. You are invited to ask your questions in the comments section of that day’s post, and the filmmakers will likely respond!
For the recorded Q&A’s, I have rounded up some outstanding interviewers, including playwright Octavio Solis, OSF Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, film critics Godfrey Cheshire and B. Ruby Rich, former Aspen Shortsfest director Laura Thielen, feminist film scholar Chris Holmlund, human rights attorney Emily Simon, and Rogue Valley Messenger publisher Phil Busse. When nobody outstanding was available, I handled the questioning myself! I want to give a shout-out to two wonderful staff members, Caley Fagerstrom and Chloe Ordwell, who helped to organize and record all of our interviews, figuring out the logistics of time zones and on-line formats.
One of the exciting things about this adventure has been lining up participants for the Q&A’s whom we would likely not have been able to bring to Ashland for the physical festival. The legendary film editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The Talented Mr. Ripley) edited the powerful doc Coup 53 that we’re showing about our country’s involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s elected president Mossadegh, and he joined us by Zoom from London. Ellen Kuras, the cinematographer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and many Spike Lee features and Martin Scorsese docs, joined Pride Award winner Tom Kalin to reminisce about their experiences working on Swoon, which was both of their feature film debuts. The directors of films we are showing who are based in Mexico (Identifying Features) and Morocco (Adam) had no trouble Zooming with our interviewers. Finally, you will see in so many of the post-film discussions following documentary features that the filmmakers lured the subjects of their films to join them, including New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof, protagonist of the film Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope (directed by Joshua Bennett). Kristof talks about his childhood in Yamhill, Oregon, which is the springboard for this film.
It’s important to us to retain the educational and interactive elements that have made our festival screenings so special, and I’m proud to say we’re pulling this off. I can’t wait for you to check them out!