Celebrating independent filmmaking

The 2007 Rogue Independent Film Festival launches a new, yearly cultural event in downtown Grants Pass. The four-day festival, scheduled Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18-21, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass, will screen more than 40 independently produced films.

Following the success of the Rogue's 2006 Environmental Film Festival, RIFF is launching a yearly, three-day event to promote and showcase a wide range of artistic and cultural films on the historic theater's big screen. Audiences will be able to see films by creative, cutting-edge filmmakers who have managed to produce high-quality entertainment on (mostly) low-budget funding.

A festival highlight will be the world premiere of "Mardik: From Baghdad to Hollywood." This feature-length documentary, nine years in the making, traces Mardik Martin's journey from Iraq to the NYU film school, from busboy to a long film relationship with Martin Scorsese. "Mardik" examines the productive friendship between Scorsese and Martin that led to some of the greatest films in American cinema, including "The Last Waltz," "New York, New York" and "Raging Bull." It also documents Martin's spiral from being the hottest writer in New York to losing it all in Los Angeles, from forsaking his craft to becoming a favorite screenwriting teacher at the University of Southern California.

An animation entry is "Once Upon a Christmas Village," an animated romantic comedy by Michael Attardi, featuring Jim Belushi and Tim Curry.

Other films include "Float," a feature film directorial debut from producer/director/editor Calvin Simmons. The comedy starring Joshua LeBar from HBO's "Entourage" series, captures a film-crazy fool's desperate attempt to produce an "Oscar-worthy" movie about a floating women's prison.

Also on the schedule is a film produced and written in the Rogue Valley: "Sixes and the One-Eyed King." The film was co-produced by Rebecca Geear, a 1996 Eagle Point High School graduate and 2000 graduate of Southern Oregon University. The film's co-writer, Patricia Snyder, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, lives in Grants Pass and is a reporter for the Grants Pass Courier. Ray Nomoto Robison directed, co-wrote and co-produced.

Film categories include feature and short films, long and short documentaries, animation and student work. Awards will be presented in all categories, in addition to an audience-picked "People's Choice" award.

RIFF 2007 will include a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 20. Mardik Martin will address the craft of screenwriting, and the producer/director from Digital Film Tree will talk about filmmaking in the digital age. The firm's credits include "Cold Mountain," "Napoleon Dynamite," "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" and "Bubba Ho-Tep."

The schedule for RIFF 2007 begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. The Friday matinee will start at — p.m., followed by the 7 p.m. evening screening. The filmmaker's workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee and the 7 p.m. evening screening. The festival concludes with a — p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Tickets to RIFF 2007 are $10 for each day's program, $30 for a four-day pass to all films. Tickets to the special Friday matinee are $5. Workshop admission is $20, $10 for students.

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