*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****
June 30, 2021
Heather Barta, CuPrum Creative
ASHLAND, OREGON - Emerging from COVID restrictions and in spite of the heat wave, Ashland Independent Film Festival hosted a five-day music and film festival over the past weekend-- one of the first live festivals since quarantines shut down venues and events in March 2020.
The festival was held in two venues on alternating nights -- ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland and Walkabout Brewing Company in Medford, opening June 24. The opening night featured Fanny: The Right to Rock, a new documentary about the groundbreaking all-woman 70s rock band, and the festival wrapped up Monday, June 28, celebrating both the 20th anniversary of AIFF and Hedwig and the Angry Inch with an open-air party featuring live music, film, and costumes.
“These five days of live events celebrated our 20th anniversary and our festival’s return to both in-person events and its tradition of reaching beyond film to celebrate all the arts,” said Richard Herskowitz, artistic director of the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
Featured films were paired with live musical guests, short films, food trucks, and other entertainment. In the AIFF Film Center window in Ashland, San Francisco-based animator/musician Jeremy Rourke installed his mobile animation studio where he created and animated paper puppets, engaged with passersby, and performed live music with his animated films.
Opening night kicked-off with a bang. The Rogue Valley Symphony premiered two new fanfares, one written especially for the festival’s twentieth anniversary, and one for celebrated local filmmaker Laney D’Aquino, AIFF2021 Lee Fuchsmann Award winner. Traveling Fanfares, D’Aquino’s new short film about the Symphony’s performances for first responders during the pandemic, followed.
Then filmmaker Bobbi Jo Hart introduced her documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock, recounting the incredible, untold story of three Filipina American teens who founded a garage band in the 1960s that became the ferocious California rock group Fanny.
The closing celebration featured a costume competition inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with an AIFF2022 Fan Pass awarded to the winner, and the costumes did not disappoint. In the spirit of Hedwig, incoming Executive Director Phil Busse was crowned with a blue wig by Erica Thompson, outgoing Executive Director.
Hosting the event in the role of Hedwig, Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Eddie Lopez wowed the crowd with his beautiful renditions of Hedwig’s songs, his sexual double-entendres, and his filmed interview with John Cameron Mitchell, author-director-writer of the original film.
The festival experienced a stroke of luck on Sunday night. As both Medford and Ashland experienced rolling blackouts, the show went on at Walkabout Brewing Company, and guests were able to enjoy both the live surf band The Reverberays as well as Havana Libre, the new movie about underground Cuban surf culture.
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.