Feature films add flare to festival

Photos courtesy AIFFColin Firth and Helen Hunt are featured in “Then She Found Me,” showing at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Of the 87 films to be screened at this year's Ashland Independent Film Festival, many are feature films. It's always a dicey endeavor making movies, using the medium of film to explore the human condition while conveying a narrative that is compelling and capable of drawing the audience in. Find below a sampling of the features which will be screened from April 3-7.

August Evening

127 minutes (U.S.) Written and directed by Chris Eska, starring Abel Becerra, Pedro Castaneda, Veronica Loren, Walter Perez and Sandra Rios.

This is a charming film, a slow to unfold character study of an aging undocumented worker and his recently widowed daughter-in-law who share a fragile existence while coping with changes, both social and economical, that are bearing down on them. Gradually relationships unfold as an ever so timid romance begins to take hold between the young widow and a new suitor, while the old man and the young woman search for a place to which they feel anchored. Films such as this &

which trust that the audience will be engaged by subtly and silence and the bittersweet aspects of life &

are always high risk and hopefully high gain.

The Cake Eaters

95 minutes ( U.S.) Directed by Mary Stuart Masterson and starring Elizabeth Ashley, Bruce Dern, Talia Balsam, Jayce Bartok, Marylouise Burke, E.J. Carrol, Thomas Cavanagh and Kristen Stewart.

As she prepared to make her directorial debut, Dern told Masterson to not be afraid of the word "sweet" when making this film. And sweet is a nifty way to describe "Cake Eaters." Masterson doesn't shy away from moving as close to edge of life as possible, deriving the tension in the narrative from the imperfections inherent in all relationships. Fathers, sons, mothers, sweethearts. There's a truth in this film that seems deeply personal yet also universal: we live in proximity to one another, and yet we struggle with an ever present distance. This is a film about that distance and those moments when we manage to reach out and touch one another and find such experiences luminescent and unexpected.

Luna: Spirit of the Whale

— — “The Sensation of Light”is one of the feature films showing this year at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

90 minutes (Canada) Directed by Don McBrearty and starring Adam Beach, Tantoo Cardinai, Graham Greene, Erin Karpluk, Aaron Miko and Jason Priestly.

"Luna" is a family friendly film which was inspired by events which took place in 2001 and involved the Mowachaht-Muchalaht people who believed that a stray killer whale from Puget Sound represented the spirit of their recently deceased chief. A tribal son, by birth the next chief, who has left to make his way in the world discovers that there are truths in the old ways which still connect him to his people beyond anything he imagined. As he struggles to restore his own identity he also must take the lead in the fight with the Canadian fish and game officers who are determined to capture the whale. Older kids, 8+, will enjoy this nicely told story of an indigenous people who struggle to remember who they were while understanding what lies ahead.


103 minutes (U.S.) Directed by John Jeffcoat and starring Asif Basra, Ayesha Dharker, and Josh Hamilton.

Inspired by Jeffcoat's time abroad in Nepal and India, "Outsourced" is a thoroughly entertaining film, capturing not only the global tsunami known as outsourcing, but its impact on individuals. We are introduced to 32-year-old Todd who is sent by his Seattle-based company to India to train not only his replacement but newly hired workers. At first he is overwhelmed, a stranger in a strange land, finding he is often flummoxed by cultural differences and values. Gradually, wonderfully, comedically, he begins to adapt while sorting out his ever mysterious circumstances. As it turns out, for Todd, being outsourced is the beginning of new and profound understandings, beginning with himself. A completely charming film.

Then She Found Me

100 minutes (U.S.) Directed by Helen Hunt and starring Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick, Lynn Cohen, Colin Firth, Bette Midler and Ben Shenkman.

Though this contemporary film was not available for previewing, Academy Award-winner Hunt will be here for its screening and there will be a QA afterward.

— — "When Did You Last See Your Father?" features Jim Broadbent, left, and Colin Firth. It is one of the feature films showing this year at the Ashland Independent Film Festival

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