Welcome to the 2023 AIFF!

Astoria International Film Festival offers local, global touches

By Marianne Monson
Oct 17, 2023
Click Here to view the original article in Our Coast Weekend

Now in its 16th year, the Astoria International Film Festival is back on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this time at the Columbian Theater.

The brainchild of Ron Craig, the festival seeks to bring access to independent films to the Oregon Coast. Craig is an Oregonian who feels that Astoria is swiftly working its way up within Oregon’s arts scene and finds it a pleasure to showcase the town and bring independent films to the community.

Craig spent time wandering through Paris and attending film festivals there with a myriad of cultures represented. “Being able to showcase the incredible work of smaller writers is a joy,” he said.

This year’s festival will showcase documentaries and independent films, including titles from Australia, Kenya and Poland. Local sponsors including Fort George Brewery, Video Horizons and the Oregon Film Museum have provided funding for the festival for many years.

Craig said he enjoys showcasing talented people who are building community and providing jobs. In previous years, the festival was held at the Liberty Theatre. A scheduling conflict necessitated a move to the Columbian Theater, but the programming structure has remained the same.

The festival continues at Xanadu Astoria on Halloween, when a costume contest and evening of dancing will celebrate the character Vampira.

Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi, known as Maila Nurmi, was an actress who created the 1950s character Vampira and grew up in Astoria before moving to Hollywood to pursue her film career. Nurmi’s niece will be attending the festival.

From this year’s lineup, Craig said he hopes people will turn out to see “Little Richard: I Am Everything.” The musician’s impactful career spanned over seven decades. He is also excited about “Some Like It Hot,” which will show at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Craig noted the film has been an important touchstone for the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to coordinating the festival, Craig also writes films and will appear in a short titled “Remembering York Street,” shown at 7 p.m. Friday. The Astoria Film Festival is a nonprofit affiliated with the World Arts Foundation based in Portland.

Astoria International Film Festival

Columbian Theater, 1114 Marine Drive, Astoria

Box office opens at 6 p.m. Friday, short film collection begins at 7 p.m., featuring “Remembering York Street,” “Albina Vision Series,” “Hunger Ward,” “Rex Amos: A Man of Many Hats” and “Wide Blue Yawn.”

Saturday showings include “Charlie’s Country” at 3 p.m., “Rafiki” at 5:30 p.m. and “Little Richard: I Am Everything” at 7:30 p.m. 

On Sunday, see “No Bears” at 1 p.m., “EO” at 3:30 p.m. and “Some Like It Hot” at 5:30 p.m.

Admission for Friday short films is $10, Saturday and Sunday admission is $10 per film or $25 per day. Weekend festival passes are $55.