ASHLAND, Ore. — One of the first casualties of event cancelations due to coronavirus concerns, the Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) has announced that it will still happen, if not exactly as originally planned.
Originally scheduled for April 16 through 20, the 19th annual AIFF will go entirely virtual, now slated for May 22 through June 14. The festival will be hosted online by Film Festival Flix, a digital platform built for "virtual festivals." It can be accessed on the FilmFestivalFlix.com website, or on the Film Festival Flix TV and mobile apps (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS and Android).
“Ever since COVID-19 compelled us to postpone the April Ashland Independent Film Festival for the safety of our communities, our team has been working intensively on an alternative plan for presenting this year’s program,” said Richard Herskowitz, AIFF artistic and executive director. “We were determined to present the program we had just finalized, which represented the efforts of independent filmmakers who have labored for years on bringing their visions to fruition and festival programmers who reviewed over 900 films to bring an extraordinary selection of works to AIFF audiences.”
Most feature films will be introduced by their directors, with live or recorded Q&A sessions after the screenings, on top of a "virtual opening night party" that is currently in the works.
AIFF will also feature a June 14 awards presentation hosted online by cult celebrity and southern Oregon resident Bruce Campbell, perhaps best known as Ash of Evil Dead fame. Campbell's own film, My Name is Bruce, appeared at AIFF in 2007.
Campbell will be presenting jury award winners with $10,00 in prize money from an AIFF-hosted Kickstarter campaign last fall.
“We are doing all we can to create a rich cinematic and festival-like experience,” says Herskowitz. “We are especially grateful for the support of so many in our community – filmgoers, filmmakers, sponsors, and other supporters – who tell us how much AIFF means to Ashland and to them. By going virtual, we can respond to that passion and support as well as mitigate the financial loss of not having our regular festival. We're asking our film fans to support us, as they are able, by making donations, buying memberships and inviting their friends nationwide to drop in to the festival and watch a film."
The full festival program will be announced on April 30 in an online preview presentation by Herskowitz and linked from the festival’s website at www.ashlandfilm.org. Also starting April 30, audiences will be able to preview the full program guide at FilmFestivalFlix.com and purchase a Festival Pass and order tickets. Passes will be offered free to all AIFF members, sponsors, and volunteers.
“We look forward, once the virus passes, to presenting summer events in our new AIFF Film Center as well as Varsity World Film Week in October," Herskowitz said. "In the meantime, we are excited about building a lively virtual film community.”