Director of América, Chase Whiteside, accepted the Les Blank Award: Best Feature Length Documentary. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF
Director of América, Chase Whiteside, accepted the Les Blank Award: Best Feature Length Documentary. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF

The 17th Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) officially came to a close today, and announced the highly anticipated juried and audience award-winning films for work screened at the festival, which ran April 12 to 16, 2018.

“120 films made it into our program this year, and 15 of them are receiving the added recognition of a jury or audience award,” said festival director Richard Herskowitz. “I want to congratulate the makers of all 120 of our films for the delight and excitement they brought to our enthusiastic audiences.”

The festival presented its coveted Rogue Award to actor Chris Cooper and director Lynn Shelton. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Cooper has given several notable performances in feature films, including as a union organizer in Matewan, the first of five films he appeared in directed by John Sayles. His performance as the eccentric plant collector John Laroche earned him an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor in Adaptation (2002). Cooper also served as executive producer and narrator of AIFF2018’s opening night film, Intelligent Lives, which explores how our society’s narrow views of intelligence have led to the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities.

Lynn Shelton, proudly based in Seattle, had her first feature-length film, We Go Way Back, win the Grand Jury Award at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival. After her acclaimed My Effortless Brilliance (AIFF2008) and Humpday, she was honored with the John Cassavetes Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2010. Your Sister’s Sister (AIFF2012) won Best Ensemble Performance at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards. In recent years, Shelton has built a successful career as a television series director alongside her feature filmmaking. Her latest film, Outside In (AIFF2018), starring Edie Falco and Jay Duplass, screened at AIFF2018 and is being released by The Orchard.

This year’s Pride Award was presented to Zackary Drucker. Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Zackary is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docuseries This Is Me, as well as a producer on the Golden Globe® and Emmy®-winning Amazon series Transparent.

At the conclusion of the Awards Night Ceremony, Herskowitz was joined by Richard Blue, chair of the James Blue Alliance, for an announcement of AIFF’s new James Blue Emerging Filmmaker Award, which will offer a substantial cash award to a social justice filmmaker beginning in 2019. The specifications for this award will be announced in September in advance of the posting of AIFF’s next call for entries.

On the heels of the 17th annual festival, MovieMaker Magazine has named the Ashland Independent Film Festival one of the Top 50 Films Worth the Entry Fee. This is the third time AIFF has been awarded this recognition (2014 and 2015). “We are thrilled and honored to be a part of this prestigious list,” said Herskowitz.

The complete list of award-winning films follows:

JURIED AWARDS

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
América
Special Jury Recognition: Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE EDITING
Minding the Gap
Special Jury Recognition: Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
Fort Maria
Special Jury Recognition: Wild Honey

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE CINEMATOGRAPHY
Fort Maria
Special Jury Recognition: The Last Hot Lick

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Commodity City
Special Jury Recognition: The Last Honey Hunter

BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
So Much Yellow
Special Jury Recognition: Game

AUDIENCE AWARDS

Director Alex Chu received the Varsity Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature for his film For Izzy. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF
Director Alex Chu received the Varsity Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature for his film For Izzy. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF

Varsity Audience Award: Narrative Feature:
For Izzy

Director Aaron Kopptook home the Rogue Creamery Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature for his film Liyana. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF
Director Aaron Kopptook home the Rogue Creamery Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature for his film Liyana. Photo by Darren Campbell/AIFF

Rogue Creamery Audience Award: Feature Length Documentary:
Liyana and Skid Row Marathon (TIE)

Jim Teece Audience Award: Narrative Short:
Game

Audience Award: Documentary Short:
Little Potato

SPECIAL TRIBUTES

Rogue Awards: Chris Cooper and Lynn Shelton

Pride Award: Zackary Drucker

Indie Institutions: Milestone Films and International Documentary Association

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