Professor Tom Kalin Receives 'Pride Award' at Ashland Independent Film Festival

BY Felix van Kann, May 18, 2020

Professor and Directing Concentration head, Tom Kalin will receive the Pride Award at this year’s Ashland Independent Film Festival in Oregon. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will be held entirely online from May 22 to June 14. 


The weekend of May 30 and 31 will be the Tom Kalin Weekend when Kalin receives his award. A number of Kalin’s short films and his feature film Swoon will be shown to honor the awardee. According to the festival’s website, “Filmmaker, writer, and activist Tom Kalin is a prominent figure in the New Queer Cinema and is the recipient of the AIFF2020 Pride Award, given annually to pioneering figures in LGBTQ independent film. Kalin, joined by cinematographer Ellen Kuras, will present his New Queer Cinema classic Swoon and a selection of his short activist, music video, and fiction films made over the past 30 years.”


Commenting on his award, Kalin stated: “In these super challenging days, it's a particular pleasure and honor to be the fifth recipient of the annual Pride Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Though I was disappointed I didn't get to attend this legendarily excellent festival in person, I was thrilled when Festival Director Richard Herskowitz and his team decided to bring the festival online. When and where else in my career have I had a "Tom Kalin Weekend"? It's also nice that Strand Releasing is being honored. They distributed my first feature Swoon on DVD and last year in honor of their thirtieth anniversary, they curated 30/30 Vision, a series of short films shot on the iPhone.  My short piece opens that program. Finally, I am screening a program of my short films which span 1989 to 2019 and include a commissioned fashion film for designer Geoffrey Beene, and musical collaborations with Mandy Patinkin, Doveman and The Gloaming, among others.”


The Ashland Independent Film Festival is traditionally held in Southern Oregon with over 7,000 film lovers gathering to celebrate the event. This year, due to the current pandemic, the festival will screen nearly 30 feature films and 50 short films online. According to the website, “Because our loyal patrons are unable to join us in person for the 2020 Ashland Independent Film Festival, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AIFF Board and Staff have been working hard on bringing our beloved festival to you, in the comfort and safety of your own home.”


Traditionally, over 7,000 film lovers gather at the art-deco Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, and other venues to watch over 100 documentaries and feature and short films. Special guests have included Chris Cooper, Lynn Shelton, James Ivory, Ty Burrell, Albert Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Helen Hunt, and Bruce Campbell. The Ashland Independent Film Festival celebrates the diversity of human experience through the art of independent film—enriching, educating and inspiring audiences of all ages.


Tom Kalin’s critically acclaimed work traverses diverse forms and genres including narrative features, mixed media installations and short experimental films. His first feature, Swoon, was awarded the Caligari Prize in Berlin and named one of the top 100 American Independent films by the British Film Institute. Savage Grace, starring Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne, premiered in Cannes, opened Zurich and screened at Sundance, London and Tribeca among many others. Nominated for a Spirit Award, it was named one of the top ten films of 2008 in Artforum and the LA Times. As a producer Kalin's films include I Shot Andy Warhol and Go Fish. He was a writer of artist Cindy Sherman’s feature film Office Killer. He has twice been included in the Whitney Biennial. A 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, Kalin’s work is in the collection of the Centre George Pompidou, The Whitney Museum and MoMA. He was a founding member of AIDS the activist collective Gran Fury, known for its provocative public art projects, which exhibited in the Venice Biennale and had a major survey of its work in 2012 at NYU. In 2015, he and frequent collaborator Doveman (musician Thomas Bartlett) presented a gallery show in NYC at Participant titled My Silent One/In The Sweetness of Time; and at Dublin’s National Concert Hall for Blood and The Moon, an evening of film, music and performance celebrating the work of Yeats. Kalin is currently working as a Writer/Director for the feature film entitled Archer Gray, a thriller based on the novel by Stephen Dobyns.