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Ashford’s the ‘theater’ for film festival

11:48 pm June 6th, 2012

Forty-four films by regional filmmakers and from around the world will be screened during the three-day Rainier Independent Film Festival, which starts Friday in Ashford. Various genres and topics will be featured in the sixth celebration of independent filmmaking. Festival (RIFF) officials said audiences will have opportunities to meet and mingle with the people who made the films, including John Adams and Toby Poser (“Rumblestrips”), Oscar-winner Joan Gratz (“Kubla Khan”), and Kevin Heutink (“Out on a Limb,” a documentary about David “Squirrelman” Csaky, who became the face of homelessness when Seattle officials evicted him from his elaborate treehouse he’d been living in for nearly two years. “Kubla Khan,” which uses the clay painting animation technique that helped Gratz secure an Oscar in 1992 for “Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase,” will be presented as part of a showcase collection. The latter – incuding “Not That Funny,” “Sahkanga,” the local documentary “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians,” and “Caris’ Peace” – is curated by Seattle film industry mogul Warren Etheredge and independent film festival programmer Emily Alm. This is the second year that RIFF has combined efforts with guest curators to program an entire day of films. Alm’s and Etheredge’s films will be shown on Saturday at the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater. In addition, Etheredge will lead a film workshop about composing music for films on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Media Center in Ashford. The workshop, other special events and the screenings can be attended on a pass costing $35. The pass and tickets for individual screenings are on sale at www.RainierFilmFest.com and at Whittaker’s Motel in Ashford. The opening-night film, “Searching for Sonny,” is a comedic look by director Andrew Disney at reunited friends who find themselves the chief suspects in a murder mystery that’s eerily similar to a play they performed in high school. RIFF organizers said Disney, a Texas native, will be in attendance for a post-film discussion following the 7 p.m. screening on Friday at the Lions Theater. The closing-night screening will be “Rumblestrips,” a drama that follows a mother who has recently been arrested for growing marijuana and who takes her two young daughters on an RV trip to come to prepare them for her absence when she goes to jail. The directors, Poser and Adams, a University of Washington alum, will be on hand for a Q-and-A following the 5:30 p.m. screening. Mike Scholtz, a director from Minnesota, is bringing “Wild Blll’s Run” to the festival. The winner of the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival tells the story of Wild Bill Cooper, who in 1972-73 led a crew of adventurers on a grueling expedition across the Arctic ice. Their goal was to snowmobile from Minnesota to Moscow. After the expedition failed, Cooper allegedly turned to a life of crime and was named one of America’s Ten Most Wanted before disappearing. RIFF awards will be presented for Best Student Film, Best Short Documentary, Best Full-Length Documentary, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature and Audience Favorite. Screening venues will include the Cine-Yurt at Wellspring and Nisqually Lodge. Pojection will be in the latest digital technology. Festival sponsors are Rainier Mountaineering Inc., The Warren Report, Indieflix, Washington Filmworks, Audio Visual Factory Productions, The Harmon Brewery and Eatery, Mt. Rainier Visitor Association and Guest Services Inc.

Picturesque scenes are part of "Rumblestrips," a drama about a mother who takes her young daughters on a road trip while awaiting her sentencing for a marijuana offense. It's one of the features in the Rainier Independent Film Festival. (Courtesy photo)

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