Above: Erica and Richard at Walkabout Brewing Company
By Richard Herskowitz
The “Double Feature” festival schedule has been finalized, and I can’t wait to unveil both programs—the April virtual and the June outdoors selections. The full program will be released on March 24 at 7pm during Preview Night. Members can watch my annual guided tour through the program live, followed by a discussion with our team of programmers about the selection process, along with our viewing tips. The “guided tour” portion of the program will be posted online the following day for all to see, and our website will display all the film blurbs and images and trailers you’ll need to chart your schedule and order your tickets. A 12-page printed program will be published in the Rogue Valley Messenger on April 1.
We’re letting some highlights of the program trickle out between now and March 24, beginning with the announcement above about this year’s Rogue, Pride, and James Blue awardees. Ever since seeing and admiring David Oyelowo’s Oregon-filmed directorial debut, THE WATER MAN, during its world premiere in the Toronto Film Festival last September, I’ve hoped we could feature it in ours. Luckily, I had Oyelowo’s email since he reached out to me five years ago to encourage our screening of another terrific film he produced and starred in, FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE. Explaining to him how his film’s backdrop of Oregon wildfires resonated with our central theme of “Rising From the Ashes” helped convince him to give us the film’s Northwest premiere.
Also this month, we are launching our search for AIFF’s next Executive Director. My amazing colleague, Erica Thompson, filled the role this past year and now is moving on. Erica skyrocketed through this organization, rising from Filmmaker Liaison to Assistant to the Director to Director of Operations to Managing Director to Executive Director in 4 years! My ability to manage the combined role of Artistic and Executive Director during most of those years was in large part thanks to her support. Now, she wants to try new things and is in demand because of the impression she’s made both regionally through the festival and nationally through serving on the board of the Film Festival Alliance. Former AIFF ED Cathy Dombi has just joined our board and is taking an active role alongside board treasurer Alan Steed in leading the next ED search. I am confident we are going to find another strong leader to build on the foundation Erica established by leading our move into the AIFF Film Center on Main Street in 2020 and the “hybrid” virtual and live festival of 2021. Still, I’m really going to miss working with Erica!
Do check out the Executive Director job posting and Erica’s message here.