The Oregon Arts Commission has awarded the Southern Oregon Film Society $29,000 to fund its director of programming position.

The Oregon Arts Commission has awarded the Southern Oregon Film Society $29,000 to fund its director of programming position.

The society sponsors the annual Ashland Independent Film Festival, which screens dozens of films from around the world at Ashland theaters during early April.

"It's fantastic news," said Tom Olbrich, the festival's executive director. "There were over $1.6 million in grant applications, and they handed out just over $300,000. For us to be included is quite an honor."

Olbrich said the grant will guarantee that the festival can fund the position of lead programmer, which has been held by Joanne Feinberg for years. Feinberg is the festival's liaison to the film industry, searching for the best independent films for the festival, he said.

The Arts Commission awarded $306,700 in grants to 16 organizations. Funding for the grants came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The grants were restricted to nonprofit organizations and were awarded exclusively to save salaried positions.