Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ashland, no relation

The past few days at Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF WEBSITE) have been filled with some of the best films at one of the most hospitable film festivals I have ever had the honour of attending.  Held in the charming city of Ashland, Oregon (home of the Shakespeare Festival INFO), this little town is known for a cultural scene that is enormous.

The AIFF screenings and events are held at various venues most within walking distance of the town centre, and a filmmakers' lounge, daily events and nightly parties held with the sponsorship of numerous local businesses and organizations ensures that festival-goers are kept well fed and watered*.

* with plenty of local beer and wine!

Filmmakers' event at Noble Coffee
Accommodation for visiting filmmakers is generously provided by some of the beautiful local hotels, inns and B&B's.  I was extremely grateful to stay at Parkside Cottage adjacent to the gorgeous Lithia Park, which was designated as one of the top ten Great American Spaces by the American Planning Association in 2014 (INFO).  The neighbours were lovely.

The Parkside Cottage and its neighbours

Lithia Park
My film, '-1287' (WEBSITE), screened six times during the festival in one of the smaller theatres of the Varsity (INFO).  Screening in an intimate venue provided a wonderful space for post-screening discussions, and I am so grateful that rather than one single screening in a large venue that my film screened multiple times for a smaller audience.  It was such an honour to be able to attend five of the six screenings held during AIFF, where the audiences are intelligent, engaged and simply love film.

It was an additional honour that the five screenings of '-1287' I attended went into "rush" prior to the beginning of the festival, "rush" meaning that all tickets were reserved and seating was only available on the day if a ticket-holder did not show up (rush INFO).  Having multiple sold-out screenings prior to the start of the festival was something I had never experienced and was truly humbling.

The post-screening discussions were emotional, deep, discussions, filled with some of the most raw and honest questions I have ever had the honour of being asked.  AIFF places great importance on these Q&A sessions and schedules plenty of time between screenings so that they never feel rushed.  The discussion following the last screening of the film, which was held this morning before I left for the airport, lasted for over 40 minutes, and was the most amazing post-screening discussion I have ever had for any one of my films.

@ 2015 AIFF
@ 2015 AIFF
The Ashland Independent Film Festival staff, volunteers, venues, sponsors and audiences are some of the best in the world (and they have a great name, too*).  I am very much looking forward to attending a future edition of the festival, and with two films currently in production, who knows when that might be...

I am now at the airport on the way back home to Japan, and am looking forward to being home and to getting back to work filming.  Thank you all so very much for your continued support.

*  No relation. ;)

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