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Ashland Independent Film Festival
Varsity Theater (Ashland, Oregon).jpg
The Varsity Theatre
Location Ashland, Oregon
Hosted by Southern Oregon Film Society
Language International

The Ashland Independent Film Festival is a film festival in Ashland, Oregon, United States that has been presented by the non-profit Southern Oregon Film Society since 2001. Founded by D.W. and Steve Wood, the festival is held each spring over five days at the Varsity Theatre in downtown Ashland and the Historic Ashland Armory in the Railroad District. The festival presents international and domestic shorts and features in almost every genre, including drama, comedy, documentary, and animation.


Most of the numerous high quality independent films show on the five screens at the art-deco Varsity Theatre located in the heart of historic downtown Ashland, a city that was referred to in the Washington Post as "a dream [...] and wish you'd never have to leave." Special events and large screenings (Calvin Marshall, The River Why, Tattoo the World) are held at the Historic Ashland Armory nearby, a venue that will seat 500 people. In addition to the screenings scheduled from 9:30am to 9:00pm daily during the festival, the Ashland Independent Film Festival hosts several parties including an Opening Night Gala (an event held at the Ashland Springs Hotel that features "Savor the Rogue," a specialty food and wine tasting presented by the Rogue Creamery with regional gourmet offerings including the Creamery's award winning cheeses, area chocolates, meats and more as well as Southern Oregon's internationally famous wines and ales), filmmaker Q&A sessions after screenings, filmmaker panels, art exhibits, and a nightly afterLOUNGE at a local pub where filmmakers and filmgoers have the opportunity to mingle and interact. In 2010, the festival was attended by approximately 6,500 people who purchased 16,800 tickets.

Local programs

In addition to the submissions received from all around the globe, the festival encourages local filmmakers to submit their films by waiving the entrance fee, and encourages residents of Ashland to attend by running two free "Locals Only" programs during the festival. The festival has also seen success with their Launch program, which is free program open to all students in Southern Oregon, encouraging them to make and submit their own films with the hope that will be selected for a special showcase each year. In 2010, a special "Made in Oregon" presentation was added the festival's Awards Ceremony to recognize the record 25% of festival films which were shot in Oregon.

Awards offered

  • Best Feature
  • Best Documentary: Feature Length
  • Best Documentary: Short Subject
  • Best Animated Short
  • Best Short
  • Best Acting Ensemble
  • Family Choice
  • Best Short Film: Dramatic or Documentary
  • Rogue Creamery Audience Award: Best Documentary
  • John C. Schweiger Audience Award: Dramatic Feature
  • Best Cinematography, The Gerald Hirschfeld, ASC Award: Feature
  • Rogue Award

Past special guests

Economic impact

The 2010 festival attendees, 40% of whom came from outside of Ashland, created a $2.8 million economic impact in the community in the 2010 fiscal year. More than 1200 attendees completed surveys from which the following information was gathered:

  • 86% patronized local restaurants
  • 62% patronized local retail shops
  • 25% patronized local galleries


The festival continues to gain national attention as a high quality regional film festival.

  • Ernest Hardy of the LA Weekly said the festival is "well on its way to being one of my favorite American film festivals, period. It's the almost-perfect blend of programming, audience and location."
  • Shawn Levy, of The Oregonian newspaper, said the festival "offers movie lovers that same sense of being in a magical place...Southern Oregon doesn't have anything else like it -- nor, in fact, do most places on Earth."
  • Upon her visit to the festival, Academy Award winning Actress Helen Hunt that "Ashland is a paradise and the film festival is a rich, beautiful thing to be a part of."
  • MovieMaker Magazine placed the Ashland Independent Film Festival on their 2009 list of "25 Festivals Worth The Entry Fee"


  • On October 25, 2007 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented the AIFF with a $20,000 grant to help bring more filmmakers, actors and subjects of documentaries to the festival.
  • The festival was again awarded this grant in the amount of $17,500 in 2010 for the 2011 festival

Current festival

The 18th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival is scheduled for April 11–15, 2019.

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