Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Handy Guide To The Handy Guide Series On Oregon Movies, A to Z

February 17th, 2014 by Anne Richardson · Handy guide series

Two time Oscar nominee Harriet Frank, Jr. was born in Portland in 1917. She was nominated  for Hud in 1964, and Norma Rae in 1980 – both times for Best Screenplay. Pictured here with her writing partner/husband Irving Ravetch.

Handy Guide To Oscar Nominated/Oscar Winning Oregon Films

Handy Guide To Oscar Nominated/Oscar Winning Oregon Animation

Handy Guide To Growing Independent Film Outside LA and NY: What Portland Did Right

Handy Guide To The Cosmopolitan Side Of Oregon Film

Handy Guide To Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Films

Handy Guide To Oregonians Who Inspired Feature Films

Handy Guide To Documentaries About Oregon Artists

Handy Guide To Urban Themed Oregon Films

Handy Guide To Oregon Movie Musicals

Handy Guide To Oregon Movie Cowboys

Handy Guide To Oregon Animal Films

Handy Guide To Oregon Logging Films

Related entries in the Handy Guide series

Handy Guide To Oregon Film Criticism

Handy Guide To The Top Ten Oregon Cartoonists

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Handy Guide To Urban Themed Oregon Films

February 12th, 2014 by Anne Richardson · Handy guide series

Police wait, in The Seventh Day, a 1970 documentary covering a student demonstration in the South Park Blocks.

Out here in the Wild West, we like to think about The City. A long list of Oregon filmmakers have chosen The City as a subject in documentaries, educational films, and narrative features. A more slender thread of our film history has filmmakers from elsewhere coming here to make films inspired by Portland.

This list, which combines both types of films, is NOT comprehensive!

The Boy Mayor 1914, directed by Henry McRae. Starring the real Portland Boy Mayor, young Eugene J. Rich. Screening at the Hollywood Theatre on April 24, 2014. Never seen it!

Portland Expose 1957, directed by Harold Schuster. Based on real events, but fictionalized so that they can be believed. In real life, it was a Portland crime boss, not a small businessman, who dropped a dime on the powerful (but corrupt) union leader who was muscling in on his territory.

The Seventh Day 1970, directed by students at PSU’s Center For The Moving Image. Documentary coverage of a student demonstration which erupts into police violence.

We Are The City 1972 directed by Tom Chamberlin. Portland is never named in this educational film, made for Encyclopedia Britannica. But the footage is 95% Portland, and includes Mayor Terry Shrunk and Neil Goldschimdt (another Boy Mayor, at that time still a City Councilman).

Who Killed The Fourth Ward? (1976-77) and The Invisible City: Houston Housing Crisis (1978 -79) directed by James Blue, with  Adele Santos. Documentarian James Blue focused on urban housing conditions for his two longest films, both made for Houston television.

Property 1978, directed by Penny Allen. Eight friends, responding to gentrification in their Lair Hill neighborhood, decide to band together to buy a house. Not a documentary, but inspired by real life events.

Talk Radio 1988, directed by Oliver Stone. Based on a play written by Tad Savinar and Eric Bogosian. The play is about urban discontent, but the reason this film is on this list is that Tad Savinar became one of Portland’s most important urban planners.

Drugstore Cowboy 1989, directed by Gus Van Sant. The fictionalized memoir of a real life felon provides a portrait of a city. Van Sant’s ascension to stardom branded Portland as an indie capital.

Alien Boy 2012  directed by Brian Lindstrom. Documentary about a city responding to the legal and spiritual crisis caused by the death of a man with mental illness while in police custody.

Den$ity: Profits Over People in Portland Oregon 2014, directed by Greg Baartz-Bowman. Small town residents challenge the decisions made by big developers, and raise questions about long term planning.

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Toni & Candace, Portland & Portlandia, and the cultural legacy of Robert Johnston’s radical middle class

February 12th, 2014 by Anne Richardson · Oregon as inspiration

How deep are the Portland roots of Portlandia?

Recognizing that the question deserves a book length examination, I took the first step elsewhere on the internet.

Here’s a excerpt, about Toni and Candace:

Who needs books? They have each other. They are Adam and Eve. Laurel and Hardy. Akbar and Jeff.

Read the rest …

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Sometimes A Great Mini Series: Notes On The Dream Cast Which Would Bring Ken Kesey’s Greatest Novel Into The Golden Age Of Television

February 9th, 2014 by Anne Richardson · Oregon dream projects

Irene Bedard, as Indian Jenny

Who was it that said a movie only needs three good scenes?

Paul Newman experimented with that formula in 1970 by making a film with only one. In Sometimes A Great Notion, Richard Jaeckel played the trusting, loyal Joe Ben who drowns as his cousin Hank tries and fails to keep him alive. Jaeckel was Oscar nominated for that performance, but what happened to Kesey’s masterful epic?

Where are the other two good scenes?

I am guessing they landed on the cutting room floor when actor-producer-director Paul Newman jettisoned the novel’s main plot. A second try at adapting Kesey’s sprawling masterpiece, using the multi episode format available in the television mini series, could restore the “since you slept with my mother, I am going to sleep with your wife” plot line which is central to the book.

So invested am I in the belief that Sometimes A Great Notion would make an excellent mini series that I have gone to the trouble of assembling a dream cast.

Joaquin Phoenix, as Hank Stamper

It is clear that Hank Stamper would best be played by Joaquin Phoenix.  Joaquin matches Kesey’s description of Hank, down to the curly hair, muscular build and flashing green eyes. Hank has a high intelligence, a volatile temper and a secret which he keeps from everyone, including his wife, and including himself.

Greta Gerwig, as Myra Stamper

Myra, Henry  Stamper’s second wife, seduced her stepson Hank on his sixteenth birthday, and slept with him throughout his high school years. She treats Hank as her lover even after she returns to the East Coast to raise Lee, Hank’s half brother, in privilege. When Myra, isolated by her transgression, commits suicide, Lee drops out of graduate school to take revenge. He goes West to seduce Hank’s wife, and ruin his life. However when he meets Viv Stamper, he falls instantly, genuinely, in love. But he still makes sure Hank witnesses him in bed with Viv just as he, Lee, as a child, had witnessed Hank in bed with Myra. Viv leaves Hank, but Lee remains behind. Alone in the bus station, waiting to get out of town, Viv sees a photo of young Myra, who she closely resembles. Viv understands for the first time that she was always, to Hank, only a substitute.

That’s the plot of Sometimes A Great Notion. There’s logging, the union, bar fights, prostitutes, and death. But the real story is three generations of sexual obsession.

The Stamper family is driven by ghosts. They are possessed by them, in bondage to them. Monstrous in their strength, their hatred and their self definition, they are shadow people in thrall to the past. The community, not incorrectly, perceives them as a threat. Lee, who was raised elsewhere, returns intending to destroy his family but instead joins them. Viv, who married into the family,  and had no idea of leaving, escapes. There is no room for women in the world of the Stamper family. Kesey knew this about Viv, and described her in his notes as  “just an ordinary girl, caught up in a family plot”.

Greta Gerwig, as Viv Stamper

Greta Gerwig has the range to play the dual roles of exotic, neurotic, sex abusing Myra Stamper, and the normal, ‘ordinary girl’ Viv Stamper. She has the power to play both. As Kesey wrote: “Viv is a pawn in a game, a long ago game”.

Then there’s Lee.

In Kesey’s notes for the novel he writes:  “Hank the fighter, the winner. Lee the pacifist, the loser.

When Kesey wrote Sometimes A Great Notion, jocks were winners. Much of the plot concerns the courage the lanky, underdeveloped Lee must summon to continue seducing the wife of his violent, physically powerful half brother. The better Lee knows Hank, the more he realizes how dangerous his plan is.

How to cast this role?

The most important qualities Lee must have are a physical resemblance to Hank Stamper/Joaquin Phoenix, and the ability to transform from child to adult. He must be, as all Stampers are, convincingly, and passionately self deluded.

Nicholas Hoult, as Lee Stamper

When Lee chooses to remain behind with Hank, the brother he both loves and hates, we understand he has chosen death.  He had his chance at life. Viv=vitality=life. As Viv watches the two men struggle to bring the logs down the river from the window of her Greyhound bus out of town, she is Ishmael escaping the unholy vortex of Moby Dick. Kesey’s understanding of Viv as a whole person, not a plot device, is entirely, but entirely, absent from the 1970 film adaptation of Sometimes A Great Notion.

So many other wonderful character parts! Ancient patriarch Henry Stamper should be played by an actor who is old, old, old enough to be a grinning defiant skeleton. Death in a hardhat. Terrifying! That’s the way Kesey wrote him. Then there’s obsequious undertaker Boney Stokes, apoplectic union man Floyd Evenwrite, ice cold bureaucrat Jonathan Draeger, and hard living, mud flat dwelling, fortune telling Indian Jenny, who spends her entire life in love with her memory of the handsome green-eyed logger, Henry Stamper, who refused to patronize her. Kesey wrote an entire world.

One appreciative reader: We have here all you could ever want to know about felling trees, bear hunting, the life and language of a small-town bar, juvenile delinquents in small-town America, music of the 50s and 60s, shamans, Indians, evangelists, Captain Marvel, small-town justice, union organizing, revenge, old age, dying, death.

Irene Bedard, as Indian Jenny

Restoring Indian Jenny to the plot would make an honest miniseries out of a Sometimes A Great Notion, and communicate both the novel’s social and psychological complexity, and its epic sweep. I propose Irene Bedard to play the beautiful small town prostitute who falls in love with the young logger Henry Stamper, and whose thwarted union with him provides the narrative engine for the rest of the plot.

It is because of Henry’s unexpressed love for Indian Jenny that he marries socialite Myra, who has Indian Jenny’s long black hair. It is because of Henry’s son Hank’s incompletely expressed, semi-incestuous love for Myra that he marries Viv, who has Myra’s face. I calculate it would take five to six one hour episodes to do justice to this multi generational chain of human frailty masquerading as strength.

I have done the casting.

Who will make Sometimes A Great Notion: The Mini Series?

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BPA Film Collection: Volume One, 1939-1954

January 17th, 2014 by Anne Richardson · 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, Oregon as inspiration, Oregon film, Oregon film archivist, Oregon film old definition

Members of the BPA chapter of the Elmer Buehler Fan Club, Libby Burke in the center.

This 2 DVD set was made for you and me!

The Friday Film Festival held by Bonneville Power Administration in March 2013 was so successful the curator of the series, research librarian Libby Burke, decided to release the films on DVD. She selected six, spanning 1939 to 1954. The first, Hydro (1939) was directed by Gunther V. Fritsch, (you know, the guy who went on to direct The Curse of the Cat People  in 1945). The second, The Columbia (1949), features songs written for it by Woody Guthrie. The third,  Highline (1950) focuses on long distance transmission of electricity. All three were produced by Stephen B. Kahn.

Stephen B. Kahn boasted that he discovered Woody Guthrie. He made the hire, at the recommendation of Alan Lomax, before Woody was famous. It was 1941. Kahn hired Woody to come to Portland for one month to write songs. He was assigned a driver, BPA employee Elmer Buehler, and with Woody in the back seat strumming his guitar, Elmer drove up and down the “Power Stream” as Stephen Kahn liked to call the mighty Columbia River. Woody wrote a song a day during that month. He was paid $266.

One song was Pastures of Plenty. Another was Roll On, Columbia. Both were first recorded here in Portland, at the BPA office.

During the McCarthy era, when political winds had changed, Elmer Buehler, the patron saint of Oregon film archivists, was ordered to destroy all BPA’s prints of  Hydro and The Columbia. He refused to do it, and sequestered one print of each in his basement.

Elmer Buehler (1911 – 2010)

I propose we hold an annual Elmer Buehler Film Festival of rescued films in his honor. In the meantime, you can hear Woody Guthrie perform the songs he wrote in the back seat of Elmer’s car on The Columbia, the second film on the first DVD.

The second DVD has Power Builds Ships (1942), showcasing PNW ship building as part of the war effort. 25,000 Volts Under The Sea (1951) documents the rural electrification of the San Juan Islands. Look To The River (1954), about the construction of the McNary Dam and the Hungry Horse Dam, features a score by Ernest Gold, who hadn’t yet won his Oscar.

Taken together, the series forms a composite portrait of the river, a forceful, magnetic, photogenic presence, and of the people who spent their lives attempting to tame it. Libby Burke’s introductions provide an inside track on the personalities behind the films. These films were made during a comparatively fallow period, when it comes to indigenous Oregon filmmaking, so the interface between BPA and Hollywood is especially fascinating.

From the BPA website:

And the BPA Library is offering the newly released set to the general public, particularly to teachers, schools, libraries, Northwest electric utilities and other public institutions. To receive a copy, contact BPA’s Public Information Center at the agency’s headquarters in Portland at 503-230-4636 (toll-free: 800-622-4520) or pic@bpa.gov. In addition, all six films are available to view and share on BPA’s YouTube channel.

I hereby claim all the films included in the  BPA Film Collection: Volume One, 1939 – 1954, as Oregon films, based on the location of the producer, Bonneville Power Administration, in Portland.

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Judgement At Nuremberg (1961)

December 15th, 2013 by Anne Richardson · 1960's, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition, Oregonians as inspiration

Spencer Tracy was Oscar nominated for his role as Chief Judge Dan Haywood, a fictionalized character based on James T. Brand, the Oregon judge who actually presided over the Justices Trials at Nuremberg in 1947.

James T. Brand was Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon when he was tapped to travel to post -war Germany to conduct the trial of German judges who had cooperated with the Nazi regime.

From an obituary of James T. Brand:

James Tenney Brand, 77, retired Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, died on February 28, 1964, in Phoenix, Arizona, where he and his wife were vacationing. Justice Brand was born in Oberlin, Ohio, on October 8, 1886, where his father, a Congregational minister, was Oberlin College chaplain. In 1914 he received the LL.B. degree from Harvard University, and in 1916 he married the former Irene Morley, of Cleveland.
Following early private practice Justice Brand’s life became increasingly one of public service. He was city attorney of Marshfield, Oregon. In 1927 he became circuit judge in the Second Judicial District in Oregon. In 1941 he was appointed a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and was Chief Justice, 1951-58. As a Supreme Court judge he participated in a number of important decisions. In 1947 Willamette University awarded him the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
That same year he was appointed a judge in the war crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany, and through much of the trial period he was the presiding judge. In Oregon he was a member of a gubernatorial committee to study improvement of the State’s judicial system. He earned distinction in the fields of constitutional and international law.
Following retirement from the Oregon Supreme Court in 1918, he taught constitutional law for three years at Stetson University in Florida. He also lectured in jurisprudence for a time at the University of Oregon. He was president of the Oregon Bar Association, 1934-35, and had served as a director and president of the Coos Bay National Bank. He served both Oberlin College and Reed College as trustee. He contributed significantly to many professional journals and wrote frequently for the Portland Oregonian as an editorial columnist.

James T. Brand joins an elite group of Oregonians who have inspired characters in films.

I hereby claim Judgement At Nuremberg as an Oregon film, based on the role James T. Brand played in inspiring the character of Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy.

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Penny Allen Talks: Late For My Mother’s Funeral (2013)

December 8th, 2013 by Anne Richardson · News, Oregon director, Oregon film

Penny Allen made her first feature film, Property (1977), in Portland’s Lair Hill neighborhood on a CETA grant. She made her third feature film, En retard pour l’enterrement de ma mère ( Late For My Mother’s Funeral) in Algeria, with French financing, a  French crew, and a French speaking cast of non-professional Morrocan-Algerian-French actors.
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The godmother of Portland independent filmmaking recently sat down to an email interview with Oregon Movies, A to Z.
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Anne: You’ve made narrative films (Property, Paydirt) and a documentary (The Soldier’s Tale). Late For My Mother’s Funeral blurs narrative and documentary. How did this happen? Did the mixing begin to happen as you made the film, or was that present from the first moment of conception?
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Penny: When it played at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Property was described as a film that appears to be a documentary but as it continues, the spectator realizes it is constructed and fully fictional.  My third film The Soldier’s Tale has an essentially fictional segment which ends the film even though the beginning and middle parts are documentary.  So the blurring of narrative fiction and documentary in Late for My Mother’s Funeral is a continuation, or further development, of my preference for mixing the two forms.  This hybrid genre is the genre I feel comfortable in.
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The principal reason for working this way is that, for me, the mix corresponds to reality, which itself operates in a range from total fiction (imagination, or falsehood, or misrepresentation, or manipulation) to total documentary (such as what one might see on a hidden camera where nothing happens for hours).  In the case of Late for My Mother’s Funeral, the two major characters were given the opportunity to speak directly to the camera for the change of perspective this offers to the spectator. To sort of tell you what is happening.  This kind of scene is not really documentary or fiction but something else altogether.  There is also an extract of a movie within my movie.  I tend to use whatever I think works and try to make it seamless.
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Anne: What drew you to this story?
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Penny: I have lived in France for 22 years now, a country with a population that is 12% Muslim, the majority of which is Maghrebin (Algerian and Moroccan primarily).  Algeria was part of France for 130 years, and the Algerian culture is very present in France today.  There are probably as many variations on Algerian immigration as there are immigrants, of many generations by now, ranging from the happiest, most successful at expressing themselves, to the most oppressed and miserable.  By luck, I have lived in neighborhoods — the 20th, the 14th, the 3rd, and now the 18th arrondissements of Paris — with large Maghrebin populations.  My interest in their culture, history, and politics has been stoked for years.  All this to say that it was natural for me to eventually think in terms of a story.
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In the case of the particular story of  Late for My Mother’s Funeral, the main character Abdeljalil came to a screening in Paris of The Soldier’s Tale and came up to me afterwards to ask me to make a movie about his story.  So I was invited in.
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Anne: Were you already familiar with Arabic culture, and Arabic family structure, before you made this film, or if it was a discovery process for you, as you were making the film. To me, the film felt deeply anthropological, even though you were directing actors, and using the mother’s dress as a unifying motif.
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Penny: An Algerian critic in Paris wrote that he thought the film was the most intimate portrait of Algerian culture he’d ever seen.  If this is so, it’s thanks to the Zouhri family.  The film is deeply anthropological, and the Zouhri family is the subject.  The idea that came from outside the culture, from me, was that one of the sisters could wear the mother’s dress and play the mother.  This is not part of their culture, but I thought doing this would get us started, and it did.
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Anne: You said you spent three years making this film. What was that like?!
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Penny: We filmed over the course of almost 3 years, about 9 weeks altogether, in order to follow the story as it evolved.  We also edited and re-edited over the course of a year after that, making it almost 4 years.
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I had been meeting in Paris with Abdeljalil Zouhri, the main character in the movie, about twice a month for at least a year, but without the intention of doing a movie.  He wanted to talk about the relations and history between Algeria and Morocco.  I listened, asked questions, filled a couple of notebooks.  He also inspired me to read several books, including “The Harem and the Cousins,” by anthropologist Germaine Tillion.
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Then, when Abdeljalil’s mother died, and when I learned what a personality she had been, a gold and jewel smuggler raising 10 children alone, and when Abdeljalil revealed his own existential crisis in a very touching way, I wanted to do a movie.  That was what he had been wanting all along, but it took an acute situation to get me started writing.
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We went very soon to Macon, in Burgundy, where I met 6 of Abdeljalil’s sisters and brothers, most of whom he had not seen for years. They had been estranged. Soon after that, with Abdeljalil, a cameraman and a soundman, we left for Algeria for the first shoot.  It was still not long after the death of the mother.  The family’s mourning in the film is very new, very intense, very raw.  It was in Algeria that for the first time I met Samira and Souaad, both of whom became important in the filming, particularly Souaad, whose own story later hi-jacked the movie, even though her story is of course related to the mother’s death and to the fact that her mother had been the center of her family’s universe during a turbulent period of history.
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It was important for me to be patient and to listen and learn a great deal, to follow clues that were offered, and to offer ideas of my own that corresponded to what was happening.  It would never have been possible to start the movie any later after the mother’s death, because mourning does end usually, and conflicts forgotten during mourning once again rose to the surface. Now, for example, Abdeljalil has broken off contact with family members in Macon, as he had done before his mother’s death. I am still very much in contact with Abdeljalil and with Souaad, less so with the others, although I was invited to a family wedding recently, about 5 years after the mother’s death, and everyone treated me like a member of the family.
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Anne: The importance of the house in the narrative, and the almost claustrophobic focus on interpersonal relationships…. I felt I saw some similarities with Property. In both films, there is the sense that an embattled  community has walled out the world. What do you make of these parallels?
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Penny: In Algeria, the enormous family villa and hammam in the film is the space where now, without the queen, if all ten brothers and sisters were there together, it would be a miracle. When the mother reigned there, it was full of life and meaning.  What the villa means now or in the future is part of what steers events in the film. The villa was also a fabulous and inspiring decor in which to shoot, with endless possibilities.  And people came to the villa, so there was a constant flow of people inside or on the roof.  This lead to an intensity of interactions.  That is the way social life occurs in small-town western Algeria in general — inside or on the roof. Especially when there were all those sisters.   And in a dynamic family, a lot happens when people come calling. Visitors are welcome.  There is a lot of palavering and activity, especially on the roof.
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Property shares one important thing with Late for My Mother’s Funeral, and that is having 8 main characters.  I have often been interested in group interactions.  In Property it seemed the characters really liked their community, but they had drifted there without the intent to wall themselves off. They were content to stay put.  Property was more of a “chamber movie,” as critic Amos Vogel called it.
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Anne: Thank you, Penny!
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http://www.pennyallenfilm.com/HomeEN.html
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http://www.vimeo.com/78632481
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Oregon Film History Initiative Celebrates 20 Fabulous Years/A Trip Ahead In A Time Machine

November 15th, 2013 by Anne Richardson · News

Not all Oregon film historians are women, but this first group was. Left to right: Heather Petrocelli,  Anne Richardson, Ellen Thomas, Rose Bond. Not pictured: Michele Kribs, unavailable because she was out riding her motorcycle.

Dateline: 2033, 20 years from now.

The Oregon Film History Initiative celebrated its 20th birthday today by blowing out candles on 20 virtual cakes scattered throughout the state.

Founded in 2013 by a group of librarians and historians, OFHI’s original mission was to ensure that key documents and artifacts essential to a full understanding Oregon’s unique film history were successfully archived within the state.

The Initiative began unofficially with the acquisition of James Ivory’s papers at the U of O.  A trickle of film scholarship triggered by Richard Herskowitz’s 2013 James Blue Tribute turned into a steady stream. Portland’s silent film industry, Oregon’s McCarthy era Westerns,  Godard’s trip through the Pacific Northwest with Jon Jost in 1972 – books on these subjects transformed public understanding of the intersection between Oregon film history and American film history.

Few can remember the time before a full length biography of Portland musician Melvin Jerome Blank, aka Mel Blanc, radically re-positioned pre-Portlandia Jazz Age Portland as an engine of American pop culture, and launched a new cultural tourism industry.

Oregon Film History Initiative brought together a truly diverse set of stakeholders. While UO collected papers of Oregon filmmakers, Oregon Cartoon Institute opened up a storefront catering to tourists. Oregon Heritage Commission, in cooperation with Travel Oregon and Oregon Cultural Trust, supported the restoration of downtown theaters in rural Oregon towns.

NWFC continued their trademark events. OSU began a media literacy summer school for teachers. PSU, working in cooperation with Oregon Cartoon Institute and Northwest Animation Festival, began hosting a biennial animation studies conference.  OHS secured a digital humanities grant to tell the story of Lew Cook, Homer Groening, and Frank Hood, three WWII vets whose passion for 16mm filmmaking would re-ignite Portland’s independent film scene.

Meanwhile, the Initiative’s popular annual fundraisers provide homesick Oregon film artists in LA and NY an annual reason to fly home for a visit.

Virtual candles for the 20th birthday celebration were blown out  in Salem, Astoria, Eugene, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Joseph, Grants Pass, Bend, Baker, Klamath Falls, Jacksonville, Oregon City, McMinnville, Sandy, Brownsville, Corvallis, and all four quadrants of the city of Portland.

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James Blue Retrospective @ Schnitzer Cinema Begins Nov. 13, 7:00 PM/Gerald O’Grady Introduces The March (1964)

October 20th, 2013 by Anne Richardson · Oregon director

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Richard Herskowitz was astonished to read on Oregon Movies, A to Z that James Blue (1930 – 1980), one of the most respected and influential documentary filmmakers of all time, was an Oregonian, and  a graduate of the University of Oregon. He immediately went into high gear organizing a five month retrospective to celebrate the life and work of this distinguished artist.

The retrospective begins on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:00 PM at Schnitzer Cinema inside the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene.

Gerald O’Grady arrives from New York, where he taught with James Blue at the Center for Media Study at SUNY-Buffalo. O’Grady will introduce The March (1964), James Blue’s 33 minute documentary of the historic 1963 March On Washington.

The second event of the series will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7:00 PM.

Richard Herskowitz, the director of the Schnitzer Cinema, will continue to pair selected films by James Blue with speakers  - friends, colleagues and film scholars - who knew the filmmaker personally. Since James Blue made films around the globe, it is likely that the speakers will come from far and wide as well. On Dec. 11, the film will be the 35 minute  A Few Notes About Our Food Problem, which received an 1968 Oscar nomination.

I’m looking forward to the way this series will illuminate Oregon’s regional specialty of creating dynamic writer-producer-directors. James Blue, born at the dawn of sound filmmaking in 1930, was one of the first.

Who was James Blue?

James Blue arrived in Portland with his family from Tulsa in 1942. He began making films on 8mm while attending Jefferson High School, and majored in theater at University of Oregon, graduating in 1953. Ten years after graduation,  he won the Critics Prize at Cannes, an honor never before given to an American. He won for The Olive Trees Of Justice, a narrative feature shot in Algeria, with a cast which included non professional actors.  Returning to this country, Blue would combine teaching and filmmaking for his entire career, excelling in both fields.

The Olive Trees Of Justice is a rare film. I have never seen it. It is not on DVD. Thankfully, Richard Herskowitz knew where to find it. He is including it in the retrospective, date to be announced. A very rare opportunity!

The first two events of the five part series are announced on the Schnitzer Cinema website.

For more information about James Blue, the best source is this guide created for a previous retrospective in 2005.

The following filmography comes from the Facebook page Remembering Documentary Filmmaker James Blue (1930-1980):

Films by James Blue

Hamlet (1951-52, 8mm) made at UO

The Silver Spur (1956, 16mm) made in Portland

Une Tragedie en Trois Mauvaises Actions (1958, 35mm, at IDHEC in Paris)

Le Voleur (Algeria, 1960, 35mm, 20 min.)

Amal (Algeria, 1960, 35mm, 21min.)

La Princesse Muette (Algeria, 1960, 12 min.)

L’Avare (Algeria, 1960, short)

Le Jardin des Roses (Algeria, 1960, 18 min.)

L’Endormi (Algeria, 1961, 35mm, 10 min.)

Le Menuisier (Algeria, 1961, 35mm, 10 min.)

Le Match-de-Catch (Algeria, 1961, 12 min.)

Les Oliviers de la Justice (Algeria/France, 1962, 35mm, b/w, 90 min.) winner at Cannes

Letter from Columbia (US, 1962, 35mm, 10 min.)

School at Rincon Santo (US, 1962, 35mm, 10 min.)

Evil Wind Out (US, 1962, 35mm, 10 min.)

The March (The March to Washington, US, 1963-1964, 35mm, 33 min.) Blue’s most widely seen work.

Prologue to George Roy Hill’s Hawaii (1966)

A Few Notes On Our Food Problem (US, 1968, 35mm, color, 35 min.) Nominated for an Oscar.

Karate Texas (1971-1973, Super-8, color, unfinished)

Kenya Boran (with David MacDougall, 1974, 16mm, color, 66min.)

Who Killed The Fourth Ward? (1976-1977, Super-8 and video, color, 3 one-hour segments)

The Invisible City: Houston Housing Crisis (Super-8 and video, color, 5 one-hour segments)

The events in the James Blue Retrospective are free. The Schnitzer Cinema is located within the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, just north of the Knight Library,  on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

For the final event of the series, Richard Herskowitz is coming to Portland on April 24 -26 to partner with the Northwest Film Center and the What is Documentary film festival at the White Stag Building.

Amazing! This celebration of Oregon genius began with a simple post on Oregon Movies, A to Z.

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“More About Goofy: Pinto Colvig, Oregon Animation Pioneer” with Ben Truwe/Oct. 12, 7:00 PM @ 5th Avenue Cinema, Free With Student ID And/Or Portland ASIFA Members

October 6th, 2013 by Anne Richardson · Oregon animator

Vance DeBar “Pinto” Colvig, with Goofy

Pinto Colvig may be the first Oregon animator.

Inspired by the commercial and artistic success of Oregon cartoonist Homer Davenport (1867-1912), Pinto Colvig began by cartooning for newspapers. He moved from cartooning to animation, a transition Homer Davenport would have made if he had lived long enough. Only five frames survive of Pinto Colvig’s 35mm feature length animated film, Creation, made in San Francisco in 1915.

That’s the year D. W. Griffith made Birth Of A Nation.

That’s the very sunrise of cinema.

On October 12, Oregon Cartoon Institute and Portland ASIFA partner up to bring Medford historian Ben Truwe to Portland to tell us more about this forefather of Oregon animation and cartooning.

The following timeline is taken from Ben Truwe’s webpage about Pinto Colvig.

1892 Born in Jacksonville, Oregon

1899 Dances the cakewalk on Jacksonville stage

1905 Performs as a musical clown on the street in Portland during the Lewis & Clark Exposition

1906 Fails admission exam for high school, instead hangs out with Frank Willeke, the Medford Main Street railroad flagman, whose voice and personality he would later adapt for the character Goofy

1910 Enrolls at Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU) in Corvallis

1915 Directs the early (some say the first) feature length animated film Creation (lost film) in San Francisco

1919 Directs early color animated film Pinto’s Prizma Comedy Revue (lost film) in San Francisco

1930 Begins working as a writer for Walt Disney

1932 Voices Goofy in The Whoopee Party, continues to voice Goofy for decades

1937 Voices Sleepy and Grumpy in Snow White

1939 Voices Gabby in Gulliver’s Travels

1946 Voices Bozo the Clown for Capitol Records, records which make more money than God

1967 Dies in Los Angeles

Here’s how much Walt Disney admired Pinto Colvig – he modelled his official Walt Disney logo after Pinto’s own rounded signature, which you can see below.

Ben Truwe will illustrate his talk with film clips and photos, and will read an excerpt from Pinto’s unpublished autobiography. Bring your questions – Oregon Cartoon Institute believes in audience Q & A.

More About Goofy: Pinto Colvig, Oregon Animation Pioneer is presented by Portland ASIFA and Oregon Cartoon Institute  The evening is free for members of Portland ASIFA and for students. For non-members and non-students, admission is $3.00.

More About Goofy: Pinto Colvig, Oregon Animation Pioneer takes place at 5th Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall Street,  Portland, Oregon  at 7:00 PM on October 12.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/234922229992860/

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