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Ashland Independent Film Wraps Up Second Virtual Festival with Awards Celebration

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*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****
April 30, 2021

 

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Heather Barta, CuPrum Creative
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Ashland Independent Film Festival Wraps Up Second Virtual Festival with Awards Celebration Announcing Jury and Audience Award Winners

 

ASHLAND, OREGON - The Ashland Independent Film Festival wrapped up its 20th anniversary virtual edition on Thursday, April 29th with an Awards Celebration. Special awards were given to actor David Oyelowo, producer Christine Vachon, and directors Bruno Santamaria and Laney D’Aquino, and jury awards, which came with $10,000 in cash prizes, were presented by festival jurors to the best documentary and narrative features and shorts in competition. AIFF directors Richard Herskowitz and Erica Thompson closed the evening by announcing the audience awards, drawn from viewers’ ratings on the festival’s Eventive platform. 

The event is archived and available for viewing HERE. A complete list of 2021 award winners is HERE

As a testament to the stature and quality of the festival, MovieMaker Magazine announced this week that the Ashland Independent Film Festival was once again included in the esteemed list of 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.

During the award ceremony, normally held live at the Historic Ashland Armory, actor Bruce Campbell initially appeared as host for the evening, only to be told that he hadn’t been asked to return this year in that role. In a comedic scramble, Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Jonathan Luke Stevens playing “The Tramp,” ended up silently hosting the rest of the evening.  

“The last three months have been a whirlwind,” said Richard Herskowitz, AIFF’s Artistic and Executive Director, “and I’m immensely proud of what our team pulled off. For the second year in a row, every single program was followed by a Q&A with directors, actors, and film subjects. Some of the most lively Q&A’s were moderated by our own Teen Press high school students, who interacted with the directors and teenage subjects of our films about youth activism: Homeroom2040, and Youth v Gov.”

Another festival success involved using a virtual ballroom, supplied by Filmocracy,  for Member/Maker Mixers. “By table-hopping through several movie discussions, both filmmakers and festival members were able to network and socialize in a way that emulated the live events people love so much during our live festival,” said Herskowitz.

Every year, the festival gives a few special awards. This year, the James Blue Award, presented by Daniel Blue of the James Blue Alliance, went to Bruno Santamaria; the Pride Award, presented by Emily Simon, Todd Haynes, and B. Ruby Rich, went to Christine Vachon, and the Rogue Award was given to David Oweyolo and presented by Warren Etheredge. This year local filmmaker Laney D'Aquino was also honored with the Lee Fuchsmann Award.

The online festival’s closing day film, Lily Topples the World, won the jury prize for Best Documentary at South by Southwest in March, and stars domino artist and YouTube sensation Lily Hevesh. As a visual treat, Hevesh staged an amazing original domino creation, made exclusively for AIFF.

The festival will hold its live and outdoor festival June 24-28 and launch with the Northwest premiere of Fanny: The Right to Rock, about the three Filipina American teens who formed the ferocious, pioneering California rock group Fanny in 1969. Fanny founding member Brie Howard-Darling will perform live, joined by director Bobbi Jo Hart.  All outdoor screenings are accompanied by music, and will be socially distanced. Events will be held at ScienceWorks in Ashland, and Walkabout Brewery in Medford. Wine, beer, and food carts will be available. 

The closing night of the live festival, June 28th, celebrates the 20th anniversary of both Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the Ashland Independent Film Festival at an outdoor screening featuring a costume party and live music.

Some festival events are currently sold out. As state public health restrictions change, the festival will offer additional tickets.

20th Ashland Independent hybrid “Double Feature” Film Festival
Virtual: April 15-29, 2021
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 at ashlandfilm.org
Contact: info@ashlandfilm.org; 541-488-3823


The complete list of AIFF2021 award winners follows: 

SPECIAL AWARDS
ROGUE AWARD
David Oweyolo
PRIDE AWARD
Christine Vachon
JAMES BLUE AWARD
Bruno Santamaria
LEE FUCHSMANN AWARD
Laney D'Aquino

JURY AWARDS
LES BLANK AWARD: BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Missing in Brooks County by Lisa Molomot, Jeff Bemiss

GERALD HIRSCHFELD AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Sin La Habana by Kaveh Nabatian

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE EDITING
Los Hermanos/The Brothers by Marcia Jarmel, Ken Schneider

BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
Feeling Through by Doug Roland

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Meltdown in Dixie by Emily Harrold

AUDIENCE AWARDS
VARSITY AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff by Alicia J. Rose

ROGUE CREAMERY AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
American Gadfly by Skye Wallin 

JIM TEECE AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
 Shoal by Tammes Bernstein

AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
 This is the Way We Rise by Ciara Lacy
 
SPECIAL JURY RECOGNITION AWARDS
EXCELLENCE IN DOCUMENTARY FEATURE PRODUCTION
Homeroom by Pete Nicks

EXCELLENCE IN DOCUMENTARY FEATURE EDITING
Stalking Chernobyl: Exploration After Apocalypse by Iara Lee

EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE FEATURE DIRECTION
and
EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE FEATURE CINEMATOGRAPHY
Everything in the End by Mylissa Fitzsimmons

EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE SHORT PRODUCTION
Guide On by Paige Compton

EXCELLENCE IN DOCUMENTARY SHORT PRODUCTION 
The Seeker by Lance Edmands


About Ashland Independent Film Festival (ashlandfilm.org)
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. 
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