A Walk in Other Shoes: Varsity World Film Week Celebrates Connectedness
Coming Attractions founder, John C. Schweiger, had the foresight 30 years ago to set up a week of International films that served as a jumping off point for the Varsity World Film Week of today. From October 4 to 11, there will be 14 films from 11 countries presented. The emphasis of this year’s event is on, “Ashland’s global connectivity,” says Richard Herskowitz, Ashland Independent Film Festival’s Artistic and Executive Director.
“On opening night, we will host the executive director of the Guanajuato International Film Festival, based in our sister city in Mexico,” Herskowitz explains. He believes it is an important time to recognize and celebrate Ashland’s ties to Mexico and how we are connected rather than separated.
World Film Week is all about international films with two movies from the Unites States to reinforce how we fit into the global filmmaking scene. Herskowitz’s overarching goal for both the upcoming film week and the Ashland Independent Film Festival in April is to elevate the quality of filmmaking and film appreciation.
He suspects that the discourse occurring while in line for a show, at the restaurant after, or at the park the next day creates community and encourages meaningful discussions that bring people together; a chance to walk in another’s shoes and perceive global issues differently.
Additionally, the more the Varsity World Film Week becomes an outright film festival (it’s pretty much there already), there is an accompanying responsibility to provide more educational offerings for both audiences and filmmakers.
The footprint of film week is visible around town with events at local businesses and attendees out and about visiting. Whether you are familiar with World Film Week or just getting your feet wet, here is what is happening:
Preview: A preview night celebration at Ostra’s! Tapas and Bottle Shop, on September 30. This includes highlights of all films presented by Herskowitz and features video highlights of this year’s World Film Week.
Opening Night: The opening night program, at 7 pm, Friday, Oct. 4 presents Identity and Belonging, a program of short films produced by the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF), one of Mexico’s largest festivals and an important platform for young Latin American filmmakers. For this trek of the film week journey, the festivities start out at Varsity Theatre with GIFF Founder and Executive Director Sarah Hoch and continues with a celebration in her honor at Mezcal Restaurant (23 N. Main Street) featuring guitar music by Guanajuato-born guitarist Jordan Tapp.
Midweek Night: There is some foot-stomping expected at a “Sonic Preshow” of fiddle music and an international wine tasting at Ashland Wine Cellars, preceding the Wednesday, Oct. 9, 6:30 pm screening of Fiddlin’.
Closing Event: On closing night, October 12, the Varsity Theatre will show the documentary, Return to Mt. Kennedy at 7:30 pm. The film follows Bobby Whittaker, Seattle “grunge music” icon and the son of legendary mountain climber and founder of REI Jim Whittaker, as he embarks on a return expedition to the Yukon’s Mt. Kennedy (named after the late President John F. Kennedy). Afterwards, a “Grunge Karaoke” after party will be held at Jefferson Spirits across the street.
Varsity World Film Week
October 4 – 11
Varsity Theatre, 166 E. Main Street, Ashland.