“It’s not only the number-one town for making movies, it is also the number-one film festival for movie makers to attend,” emcee Warren Etheredge told a packed house at the Historic Ashland Armory on Sunday evening at the Ashland Independent Film Festival awards. “It’s also a great city for seeing movies. And I can’t say enough — one of main reasons for coming back year after year to Ashland is the incredible job that the programming team led by Joanne Fineberg does every year of putting together a stellar lineup. And finally ... let’s not forget the best audiences in the country.”
Etheredge is a “cultural conversationalist, interviewer, film analyst, writer, and mentor to screenwriters,” according to his Wikipedia profile, who lives in Seattle and has written five books. In his eighth year at the festival, he wasn’t the only one lauding the AIFF. Several filmmakers with experience on the film festival circuit praised Ashland and the festival, citing an excellent program in a wonderful town in a beautiful setting.
This year’s festival brought nearly 100 films and other events to five venues around town.
I happened to be in town in 2011 during the festival and took in a few films then, including “The Simpsons” star Harry Shearer’s “The Big Uneasy” documentary about Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans.
Experiencing the buzz of all those people excited about all those films in just a few days was part of the positive experience of Ashland that led me to end up moving here last summer. This year, I was fortunate to attend six movies and three special events.
All three events — the “Opening Bash” Thursday at Ashland Springs Hotel, a “VIP/Filmmaker Reception” Saturday at Smithfields, and the awards ceremony Sunday at the Historic Ashland Armory — were marked by packed houses and enthusiastic conversations about the films.
We missed the first movie we had tickets for, “Wildlike,” as we violated the “15 minute rule,” that says you have to show up 15 minutes before showtime or your ticket will go to somebody in the “rush” line. Hey, I’m sorry we missed the movie — I was working and couldn’t break away sooner — but get it that those seats need be filled.
We watched “Listen to Me Marlon,” “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation,” “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” “A River Between Us,” “Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World” and “Frame by Frame.”
OK, they’re all documentaries. What can I say? I’m a journalist. Bottom line: You have to see “A River Between Us.” It has all the marks of a good story: It tells us up top why we should care about the story, it leads us through the various aspects that frame and define the issue, it keeps both facts and feelings in the mix and explains, as co-producer, writer and narrator Jason Atkinson (who grew up in Ashland) says, “in a way that makes this matter to someone who takes the subway to work.”
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Community coffee time: We’re trying something a little different this month, meeting in the afternoon instead of in the morning.
I’ll be in the downstairs room at Mix Sweet Shop, 57 N. Main St.., from 2 to 3 p.m. today, April 16.
These informal meetings on the third Thursday of each month are an opportunity for you to offer suggestions and observations about Ashland in general and the Tidings in particular.
Reach Daily Tidings editor Bert Etling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-631-1313. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/betling.