By Richard Herskowitz, Artistic Director
The migration of Varsity World Film Weeks from the Varsity to the Virtual was a great success, reaching over 2,000 viewers, with survey respondents rating the films’ quality 4.2 out of 5, and the value for their cost 4.5. Just one week later, we took advantage of our virtual platform to launch our “Best of the Fests” series of lauded festival favorites as a monthly series, beginning with a “Food Equity Film Weekend” cosponsored by Rogue Valley Farm to School. Their executive director Sheila Foster wrote us after: “We have gotten rave reviews. People loved the experience. And it was such a nice way to bring up the important conversation of Food Equity in our region… I have always loved AIFF as a community event and thought it brought so much to our region, now I see even more clearly what a great group of people you all are.” Thank you, Sheila!
We are excited to continue partnering with community organizations and businesses, and welcome proposals. The cause should be timely and important and the movies, of course, great. Our next partner is the “As You Like It: A Love Revolution” store in Ashland, our neighbor on East Main Street, an advocate for sexual freedom. The film we’re co-presenting is The Dilemma of Desire. It explores the work of four women who are shattering myths and lies about female sexual desire, bodies and - ultimately - power. selected for the postponed physical AIFF2020 but unavailable to our virtual platform until now. We’ll be accompanying the November 13-19 screenings with a pre-recorded conversation conducted by As You Like It’s Kim Marks with director Maria Finitzo. Finitzo will return for a community conversation with audience members on November 19 via Zoom. Maria, a filmmaker I greatly admire, brought In the Game to AIFF2016 when it was part of our tribute to Chicago’s legendary Kartemquin Films, which also produced The Dilemma of Desire.
What else have I been up to lately? I’ve been attending other virtual film festivals, seeing great films there (Regina King’s One Night in Miami, Steve McQueen’s Lover’s Rock, Almodovar’s The Human Voice, Errol Morris’ My Psychedelic Love Story, etc.) and feeling inspired by the many hybrid presentations of virtual with physical outdoor screenings.
I’ve also been talking with Tim Molloy, the editor of MovieMaker Magazine, who was interested in how our festival was adapting to the fires and pandemic. According to Molloy on his blog: “He’s an inspiration, and listening to him may make you move to Ashland.” Well, that made my day. You can access our 35-minute podcast conversation on Apple or Spotify or here.