By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 7, 2011 at 5:19AM
Thursday I'm heading up to Oregon's Ashland Independent Film Festival (the tenth), where I'll be interviewing this year's AIFF Rogue Award winners, Harry Shearer (This is Spinal Tap, The Big Uneasy) and Morgan Spurlock (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold). I will also check out Measure for Measure and Julius Caesar at the famous Ashland Shakespeare Festival. I'm on the film fest's doc jury, along with filmmaker/blogger A.J. Schnack and doc PR master Judy Arlington. We'll hand out awards Sunday night.
The five-day fest pulls about 6000 folks into tiny Ashland for its indie showcase nestled in the Siskiyou mountains near the Rogue River and Crater Lake. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored the AIFF as one of 30 festivals in the U.S. to receive a 2010 Academy grant. More details below.
Among AIFF's 84 documentary, short and feature films this year are many films made in Oregon, including Hood to Coast, about the team relay run from Mount Hood to the Oregon coast, and If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. Many productions were based in Ashland, including local attorney-turned-filmmaker Susan Saladoff’s Hot Coffee and AIFF alumni filmmaker Kim Shelton’s The Welcome.
Director Peter D. Richardson returns to Ashland with his Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner How to Die in Oregon, which focuses on the state’s assisted suicide law, and Irene Brodsky comes back with the world premiere of her account from the Gulf oil spill, Saving Pelican 895.
The fest also screens Portland filmmaker David Weissman’s documentary about the deadly impact of AIDS in San Francisco, We Were Here, and Brett Eichenberger’s world premiere of his narrative feature, Light of Mine. Chris Munch filmed his Sasquatch Sundance entry Letters From the Big Man throughout Southern Oregon. Ondi Timoner and Robert James’ short documentary Library of Dust, about unclaimed cremains found at the Oregon State Hospital, will be accompanied by a showing at Ashland’s Bohemia Gallery of the David Maisel photographs featured in the film.
Per usual, the AIFF again will feature Oscar-nominated films, ten in all this year with two winners-- Gasland, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Waste Land--plus four Oscar documentary shorts – Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, The Warriors of Quigang and the category winner, Strangers No More-- along with the nominated live actions shorts The Confession and Oscar-winner God of Love and the animated short Let’s Pollute.