Our take: Now in its ninth year, this Southern Oregon
festival is impressing visitors with generous hospitality and strong
community support. Renowned much of the year for its vaunted
Shakespeare festival, Ashland can rely on a strong tourism
infrastructure, a savvy audience base and a breathtaking location
(Crater Lake and the Rogue River are within shouting distance. The
four day fest sold more than 16,000 tickets this year and features an
impressive doc strand (features and shorts), many of which are nearing
the end of their festival runs. Not so easy to get to (Ashland is 300
miles south of Portland, although a small regional airport is in nearby
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON), THE BLACK LIST VOLUME ONE & TWO, FOOD, INC., FUEL, THE GARDEN, THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE, IN A DREAM, PRODIGAL SONS, PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI, THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY, THROW DOWN YOUR HEART
Our coverage of Ashland here.
Filmmaker: "This could possibly be the best little film festival in the world. You'd be hard pressed to find better audiences anywhere. They LOVE movies in Ashland. The entire fest exists within about three blocks of downtown Ashland. Great films, great food, great talks late into the night about movies and politics and life. It's a little hard to get to. It's almost impossible to beat."
Filmmaker: "Very warm community support for the festival and the films. The only festival where people came up to me on the street and gave me a hug after my screenings. Also, in a lovely setting. Festival covered flight and accomodations."
Filmmaker: "very nice regional fest. good audiences. no disrespect, but nothing too special."
Filmmaker: "What is extraordinary about the AIFF is the way the entire town seems to mobilize itself in support of the festival. Every screening is full, people stop you on the streets to talk about your movie, and the filmmakers have places to gather and get to know each other. It is a spring festival in a beautiful part of the world, infused with a small town intimacy, and populated with terrific movies. While it is not a place to do business, it is one of those rare festivals where one feels lucky to be a filmmaker."
Filmmaker: "There are several things about Ashland that
recommend it. First, their filmmaker care is head-and-shoulders above any other
experience I've had. They manage to create a community that
centers around films and not beer, and the whole town gets in on it. Nearly
every restaurant is filled with people in town to see and talk films. We have
had people call across traffic to tell us they loved our fllm, pick up the tab
on pie and coffee, insist on over-paying for copies of dvds. It's very
invigorating and absolutely WITHOUT ATTITUDE. As you probably know,
Ashland is home to the worldclass Oregon Shakespeare
Festival, so they get great audiences that are thoughtful and know how
to treat artists.
One of the great things is the multiple screenings (so your film has a chance to build a little local word of mouth buzz before it leaves town) and the screenings are packed with people every single time. Vibrant Q&A periods, real community building, sensitive programming, and thoughtful filmmaker care. For example, banks of serious Macs in the filmmaker lounge along with food and drinks at all hours, and helpful volunteers who knew what was happening and had seen your films."
Filmmaker: "we had a truly great festival experience. Smart and
friendly audiences attended our screenings, we saw wonderful films, met
filmmakers and fans, enjoyed Ashland’s fabulous cuisine, and came away with the
“it’s a wonderful life” feeling."
Filmmaker: "they treat you well. The second or third night when I was served all the champagne and oysters I could consume, at a table with linen and silver, for free, I had to give them the all time festival food award. AND they flew me in for free, and gave me fantastic lodging."