March 15, 2021
Frances Dyer, Campbell Consulting
Ashland Independent Film Festival Announces Schedule Launch Preview Night on March 24,
Shares 10 Titles in Advance
AIFF Provides Sneak Peek at 2021’s Schedule of Films and Events
Ashland, Oregon – The 20th annual Ashland Independent Film Festival will announce its full film and event lineup in a virtual Preview Night presented live for members on March 24 at 7pm, and available to the general public at ashlandfilm.org on March 25. The members-only event will include the opportunity to interact with festival programmers and get behind-the-scenes background. This year’s festival will run as a “double feature”-- online, with most films available coast to coast, from April 15-29, and live and outdoors in Ashland and Medford from June 24-28, 2021.
In advance of the full program release, the festival has provided 10 “sneak peek” titles (listed below), supplementing its earlier announcement of this year’s special awardees David Oyelowo (The Water Man), Christine Vachon (Poison), and Bruno Santamaria (Things We Dare Not Do). The festival’s full lineup includes more than 100 films along with TalkBack panels, a virtual Opening Night Bash, member/maker mixers, and live music events.
AIFF’s schedule is presented as thematic “tracks” to help guide viewers through the festival's programming. Their perennial “Arts” and “Activism” tracks reflect the importance of these subjects to independent filmmakers, a new “Screening Cuba” track runs parallel to the visual and media art exhibition “Collecting Cuba” cosponsored in Ashland’s Schneider Museum of Art, and a “Rising From the Ashes” track responding to the aftermath of the devastating Almeda Fire of 2020.
“We’ve seen in previous years that providing viewers with paths to follow through our rich program helps them make fascinating connections across diverse genres and styles,” said AIFF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz. “For example, this year’s Activism track includes three documentaries exploring the rising energy of youth activism - Homeroom, Youth v Gov, and the U.S. premiere of American Gadfly. This elegantly parallels two films in the Arts track - Me to Play and So Late So Soon - which address the subject of older artists confronting aging.”
Tickets go on sale to members on March 31 and to the public on April 8 at ashlandfilm.org. Film prices are generally $10, discounted for members, seniors, and those experiencing financial hardship, with several programs available for free.
AIFF Memberships start at $35 and include early access, exclusive events and screenings, free and discounted tickets and other benefits, all while supporting a beloved non-profit arts organization.
Below is an advanced look at 10 films coming to the 20th annual festival. All films will be accompanied by Q&A’s with the directors and other participants.
American Gadfly (D: Skye Wallin)
After decades of quiet living, 89 year-old former senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel comes out of retirement when a group of teenagers convince him to run for president. Through Senator Gravel's official Twitter account, the Gravel teens embark on an unlikely adventure to qualify him for the Democratic debates in order to advance an anti-war, anti-corruption, and direct democracy agenda in the 2020 presidential race. World Premiere.
Homeroom (D: Peter Nicks)
Through intimately filmed cinema vérité, HOMEROOM follows the class of 2020 at Oakland High School in a year marked by seismic change, exploring the emotional world of students coming of age against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world.
Youth v Gov (D: Christi Cooper)
YOUTH v GOV is the story of America’s youngest citizens taking on the world’s most powerful government. Twenty-one courageous youth lead a groundbreaking lawsuit, originating in Eugene, OR, against the U.S. government, asserting it has willfully acted over six decades to create our climate crisis.
Me to Play (D: Jim Bernfield)
As their bodies give way to Parkinson's disease, two New York actors put their hearts into one final Off-Broadway production of Beckett's “Endgame,” the play that posits, "there's nothing funnier than unhappiness."
SO LATE SO SOON (D: Daniel Hymanson)
A half-century into their marriage, two Chicago artists look back at their life together as they contend with the deterioration of their bodies and beloved home.
RISING FROM THE ASHES TRACK
Anchor Point (D: Holly Tuckett)
ANCHOR POINT is a documentary film about women changing the culture of firefighting on our nation’s public lands. It’s a story told through the eyes of wildland firefighters Kelly Martin and Lacey England, deeply connected to the lands they protect and determined to build an equitable workplace, free from discrimination and assault.
SCREENING CUBA TRACK
Los Hermanos/The Brothers (D: Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider)
Virtuoso Afro-Cuban-born brothers—violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo—live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half-century wide. Tracking their parallel lives in New York and Havana, their poignant reunion, and their momentous first performances together, LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS offers a nuanced, often startling view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.
A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff (D: Alicia J. Rose)
A KADDISH FOR BERNIE MADOFF tells the story of Madoff through the eyes of musician/poet Alicia Jo Rabins, who watches the financial crash from her studio in an abandoned office building on Wall Street. Fueled by her growing obsession, real-life interviews transform into music videos, ancient spiritual texts become fevered fantasies of synchronized swimming, and a vivid, vulnerable work of art is born from the unique perspective of an artist watching the global financial collapse up close.
Beans (D: Tracey Deer)
Twelve-year-old Beans is on the edge: torn between innocent childhood and delinquent adolescence; forced to grow up fast to become the tough Mohawk warrior she needs to be during the Indigenous uprising known as The Oka Crisis, which tore Quebec and Canada apart for 78 tense days in the summer of 1990.
CineSpace is a short film competition, produced by NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and judged by filmmaker Richard Linklater, which highlights narrative and documentary short films that imaginatively remix NASA archival footage. This is the sixth annual edition, which includes first place winner “Space: A Skate Odyssey” by Canadian filmmaker Toby Morris.
AIFF 2021 information at-a-glance:
Full Schedule Available: March 24, 2021
Virtual: April 15-29, 2021 at ashlandfilm.org
Live and outdoors: June 24-28, 2021 in Ashland and Medford
Ticket price: Ranges from free to $10/$8 members, seniors, students, and financial hardship
About Ashland Independent Film Festival
Cited by MovieMaker Magazine several times as one of the “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” and one of the “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” the Ashland Independent Film Festival is usually held annually in April in Southern Oregon. AIFF screens 100-plus independent documentary, narrative, animation, and short films in its festival and other year-round programs in Ashland, which is nestled in the beautiful Rogue River Valley. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, AIFF moved online for its 19th annual festival, extended its five-day event to 24 days, and was recognized by Smithsonian Magazine and MovieMaker Magazine as having one of the best virtual film festivals.