19th annual AIFF preps a week before going virtual

ASHLAND, Ore. — For nearly two decades, the Ashland Independent Film Festival has held a 5 day long event, showcasing hundreds of films.

Due to the pandemic, the event is going virtual for the first time.

The 19th annual Ashland Film Festival is starting on May 22nd.

However, instead of the traditional 5 day event on screens around Ashland, this year it’s going virtual and lasts three weeks.

“We have reinvented ourselves as a virtual film festival that will take over 24 days,” said artistic and executive director, Richard Herskowitz.

Hanging on to the spirit of the usual festival wasn’t easy.

“We tried as hard as we could to recapture the essence of our film festival, what makes it different from the usual film going experience,” said Herskowitz.

Over 75 films including 30 feature films and 9 short film categories are part of this year’s program.

“Every single program is introduced by the film maker followed by a Q&A by the filmmaker which has been pre-recorded,” added Herskowitz.

A locally produced documentary called “Illegal” will be featured.

It was produced by southern Oregon entrepreneur Laz Ayala.

The film focuses on Ayala’s path to becoming a U.S. citizen.

“It’s exciting to be able to share the film with the community, because the idea of the film, the artifact, the engagement on this topic really has been the result of much encouragement I have received from our community,” said Ayala.

Ayala says it took 9 months to produce and 3 years to finish the film.

AIFF will also be the film’s first virtual festival.

“The whole thing has been an adventure,” said Herskowitz.

An awards ceremony will even feature Hollywood actor and local resident, Bruce Campbell.

“We spent a whole year planning a festival and watched it disappear and then this whole opportunity arose,” Herskowitz said.

To purchase tickets or get more information on the virtual festival, visit the AIFF website.

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