Phoenix, Oregon
Phoenix, Oregon

Thee world premiere of Ashland filmmakers Gary and Annie Lundgren’s Phoenix, Oregon, starring James Le Gros and Jesse Borrego as two friends who, defying midlife haze, seize an unlikely opportunity to reinvent their lives, quitting their jobs to restore an old bowling alley and serve the “world’s greatest pizza” along with nine additional films are the first titles revealed for the 18th Ashland Independent Film Festival.

According to Richard Herskowitz, AIFF Artistic and Executive Director: “I pursued Phoenix, Oregon, because I so admire the Lundgrens’ three prior features. Also, I figured Gary had further sharpened his comedy skills directing the beloved AIFF bumpers from 2012-16. I wasn’t wrong. All the actors in the film’s wonderful ensemble create idiosyncratic, funny, and believable characters the audience will love and not want to let go.”  Also starring in the film are Lisa Edelstein, Rey Gallegos, Diedrich Bader, and Kevin Corrigan.

The five-day, five-night festival will run April 11-15 in several venues across Ashland. “This year’s festival offers an array of live performances, media art installations, and several major upcoming film releases. The titles we are releasing early are a representative mix of classic films, films about artists and activists, and sensations from the recent Sundance and South by Southwest film festivals,” said Herskowitz.

Here’s a sneak peek at nine additional films

Oregon Premiere | Narrative Feature
Special Guest: Jessica Oreck, Director
Alyssa and Maksim both work at the Institute of Plant Genetic Resources in the center of Leningrad, as the siege of the city is about to commence. The Institute houses, the world’s first seed bank – a repository of irreplaceable seeds from around the globe – a priceless trove of living genetic diversity, which holds the potential to transform modern agriculture. The two young botanists fall in love as the world wages war. Premieres at the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival.

Narrative Feature
Special Guest: Alex Cox, Director
​​​​​​​Repo Man director Alex Cox went south of the border to film this 1991 dramatic tale of a rookie member of Mexico’s national highway patrol, who struggles to keep on the straight and narrow in a department rife with corruption. The film was recently restored on 4K by Cox with Kino Lorber Films, which will receive an “Indie Institution” tribute at this year’s festival.

Documentary Feature
Special Guests: Directors Velcrow Ripper and Nova Ami
A poem for the planet, Metamorphosis   captures the true scale of the global environmental crisis. But this crisis is also an opportunity for transformation. Through a tidal flow of stunning images, Metamorphosis carves a path from the present to the future, and offers a bold new vision for humanity and the world. Woven through the film are stories of creativity and reinvention from artists, scientists, thinkers, and young children offering creative, systemic solutions for our planet.

Oregon Premiere | Documentary Feature
Special Guest: Jialing Zhang (in person) and Nanfu Wang (via Skype), Directors
China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. Co-director Nanfu Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members with archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike. Grand Jury Prize winner in the Documentary Feature competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Oregon Premiere | Documentary Feature
Special Guests: Artist Reine Paradis and director Carl Lindstrom
After selling out her first exhibition in Los Angeles in 2016, artist Reine Paradis embarks on a dangerous and surreal road trip across the United States to complete her next body of work. It’s an all-out adventure and an in-depth look at what it takes to make art today.

Oregon Premiere | Archival Footage Program
Special Guest: Rick Prelinger, Director
Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes compilations of rare archival footage of San Francisco draw thousands of cheering, interacting viewers to halls in San Francisco each year.  Combining favorites from past years with new discoveries, this feature-length program shows San Francisco’s neighborhoods, infrastructures, celebrations and people from the early 20th century through the 1970s. Rick Prelinger presides in person, and viewers are encouraged to shout out what they see, ask questions, and engage in dialogue with each other.

Oregon Premiere | Narrative Feature
Special Guests: Lead actress Tayler Buck and writer/producer Shawn Austin
Bouncing around the sometimes-abusive foster care system for most of her life, Alicia, a creative 12-year-old foster girl ditches school to visit her military veteran father, Bo, on the streets of LA’s Skid Row. Bo is now homeless and mentally ill after suffering a battle-induced brain injury during his service in the Iraq war. The injury renders him unable to recognize his own daughter most of the time. But to Alicia, it doesn’t matter because she remembers the father he used to be: a caring man with a love of storytelling.

Oregon Premiere | Documentary Feature
Special Guest: Michael Brown, Director
The Weight of Water is a story of a blind man balancing fear and the chaos of kayaking whitewater rapids. He embarks, alone in his own boat, into the home of the most iconic whitewater in the world, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Erik has already overcome some stunning challenges for both sighted and blind people, including climbing Mount Everest. Whitewater kayaking is different, and as the Grand Canyon’s Lava Falls draws closer, Erik’s fear grows till it nearly paralyzes him.

Why Can't I Be Me? Around You
Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You

Oregon Premiere | Documentary Feature
Special Guest: Harrod Blank, Director
Renowned art car artist Harrod Blank’s camera-covered van breaks down near Albuquerque, NM. The only mechanic capable of fixing it is local drag racer, and machining savant, Russell “Rusty” Tidenberg. Rusty recently began transitioning. Harrod learns that Rusty’s boss (father) cut his pay, his biker friends rejected him, and women won’t date him. Struck by his story, Harrod films Rusty for eight years. Other gender-non-binary art car artists that Harrod meets shed further light on gender identity in America. Premiering at the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival.

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