Digital Cinema Shines at Ashland Independent Film Festival
The 2022 edition of the Ashland Independent Film Festival kicks off on April 1, and festival jurors have honored at least five films produced by alumni and majors of Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema program.
Digital Cinema majors earned three slots in AIFF’s LAUNCH competition for films produced by students based in Southern Oregon: Post-hu-mous by PJ Doolin and Jamison Winternitz, One Wheel: The Culture and Community by Kade Linville and Marvin Walder, and The Next Best Documentary, also by Linville.
Other films honored by the festival include White Whale by Digital Cinema grads Hannah Lilly and Marjorie Miller and A Lithian Tradition by Walder, both showcased in the Locals Only category at AIFF.
In Post-hu-mous, Doolin and Winternitz have crafted a micro-documentary on Robert Johnson, the American blues musician and songwriter. Their film speaks to how Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil to become a cult music sensation.
“It was a wild experience filming with PJ,” said Winternitz. “We both lived in different states and due to Covid, we were only able to meet twice during the whole process! But luckily, PJ and I are pretty like-minded. I feel so very grateful to be included in this year’s fest and hope to see more and more young women have the opportunity to do the same.”
Winternitz and Doolin have conceived their project as a multi-episode series, and look forward to continuing with further documentary films about musicians.
In One Wheel: The Culture and Community, Linville and Walder explore the emergence of One Wheel electric hoverboards, the popular new personal transportation technology.
“I think One Wheels being such a new phenomenon made the film more interesting to watch and lead to some creative potential for coming up with engaging shots visually,” said Linville. “I wanted to also highlight the underground community surrounding One Wheeling. I think looking back it will be interesting to watch this film as it continues to grow.”
Linville also created The Next Best Documentary, which follows a student-run improvisational comedy program at SOU. Despite the limitations entailed in the COVID-19 pandemic, students moved from “Zoomprov” to a live performance last Fall, all documented by Linville.
“Going in, I didn’t have an immediate clear direction for the film,” said Linville, “so in the spirit of improv, I just let things play out and let people talk freely about what they love.”
In White Whale, Lilly tells the story of an 18-year-old musician with choices to make as he navigates a complex balance between a romantic relationship, a toxic family situation, a dead-end punk band, and drugs.
“It was a passion project for me because it was inspired by a few people I know personally,” said Lilly. “These people had been affected negatively by a bad home life, which led to drug use. I wanted to depict how difficult it can be for a young person to cope in these sorts of situations.”
Walder created A Lithian Tradition as a class project at SOU. It tells the story of an SOU student who needs to get home to the dorms to take a test, but they end up tripping on Lithia Water from Ashland’s iconic public water fountains.
“I knew I wanted to do something with the weird tradition of having people try the water from the Lithia Water fountain in downtown Ashland,” said Walder. “I hope those who see the film can relate with the oddity of the tradition, and find some memorable and comedic moments they’ll enjoy and remember.
The Ashland Independent Film Festival runs April 1–10 via online screenings. The student films in the LAUNCH competition are screened free of charge via AIFF’s Eventive platform, and access to the full program is available at ashlandfilm.org.
Story by Kelli Albert, Community Manager for the Communication, Media & Cinema Program at Southern Oregon University.