Ashford will be transformed into a mecca of independent filmmaking during the Rainier Independent Film Festival this weekend.
From May 9 to May 11, more than 50 films in a variety of genres and topics will be featured. Several come from regional filmmakers, and others are from around the world. Festival organizers said audiences will have the chance to mingle with filmmakers, see films they won’t see anywhere else, and celebrate independent filmmaking in the shadow of Mount Rainier.
More information, including the full festival schedule and screenings, weekend and day passes, and tickets for individual screenings is available at www.RainierFilmFest.com. But here’s some of what the cinematic event has in store:
* Filmmakers who are expected to be on hand include writer-director J. Rick Casteneda (“Cement Suitcase”), John Fuhrman (“A Bit of Bad Luck”) and Oakley Anderson-Moore (“Wild New Brave”), executive producer Scott Jemison (“Sand Castles”) and producer-director Leah Warshawski (“Finding Hillywood”).
* “Finding Hillywood,” a documentary set amongst the hills of Rwanda, chronicles one man’s road to forgiveness, his effort to heal his country, and the realization that everyone at some point faces their past. It’s about the very beginning of Rwanda’s film industry and the pioneers who bring local films to rural communities.
* New this year is The Best of NFFTY on May 11, curated by Seattle film industry mogul Warren Etheredge. NFFTY is the world’s largest and most influential youth film festival supporting the work of filmmakers 22 and younger, according to festival officials. While NFFTY is new, this is the fourth year that Rainier Independent Film Festival (RIFF) has combined efforts with a guest curator to program an entire day of films. All of Etheredge’s films are scheduled for May 10 at the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater. Filmmakers or representatives from almost all films that day are expected to attend.
* Etheredge also will lead a workshop on May 11 at 12 p.m. at the Mt. Rainier Lions Theater. Warren will be discussing how being honest on screen is harder than it looks.
* The opening-night film, “Cement Suitcase,” tells the story of Franklin, who is the best wine salesman in the Yakima Valley but hates his life. His girlfriend is cheating on him, and he doesn’t have the self-respect to tell her that he knows. When he meets the “other guy,” who turns out to be a terrific person, he decides it’s time to let go of some baggage. Castaneda, the writer-director, will be on hand for a post-film discussion following the 7 p.m. screening on May 9.
* “A Bit of Bad Luck” is a comedy that follows a wife’s revenge on her philandering husband and the bizarre, nightmarish, downward spiral it turns into. The film’s director will be in attendance for a Q-and-A following the 6 p.m. showing on May 11.
Festival Awards will be presented following the closing-night screening for Best Student Film, Best Short Documentary, Best Full Length Documentary, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature, and Audience Favorite.
Organizers of RIFF say the festival is dedicated to providing a venue for true independent filmmakers, as well as an opportunity for fans to meet and mingle with film industry people. In addition to the Lions location, films are shown at Cine-Yurt at Wellspring. All projection is via digital technology.