How did Portland become so cinema saturated?
The blacklist holds some answers.
Andries Deinum, a Dutch film editor turned educator turned uncooperative House on Un-American Activities Committee witness, was exiled from Hollywood in 1957. He accepted an offer to move north to teach film at Portland State University and remained here, teaching film and civic engagement through film, for the rest of his life. Long distance, he helped found Film Quarterly magazine. (This is after Ernest Callenback got worn out, and Pauline Kael proved not to be such a great fit.) He also founded the Center for the Moving Image at PSU (1969 -1981), a precursor to the Northwest Film Center, itself founded by two Deinum students, Brooke Jacobson and Robert Summers, in 1971.
Here’s an article which explains the role Deinum played in the founding of Film Quarterly, whose motto, “For serious lovers of film”, seems to have inspired all three of Portland’s February film festivals: the Beer and Movies Film Festival, the Cascade African Film Festival, and the Portland International Film Festival.
Another Deinum contribution to Portland’s film culture:
In 1960, Deinum confronted the Portland City Council over censorship of The Lovers, a film directed by Louis Malle, and drew media attention to the role of the arts in public life. He believed that public television, then in its infancy, held the potential “to personalize the impersonalization of mass media . . . the packaging of shows that left them devoid of content.” His 1961 television series, Speaking for Myself, sought citizen involvement in “thinking and feeling” about civic life. Adopting the personal essay form delivered in a conversational mode, Deinum shared his views and invited viewers to respond by writing letters or appearing on the show.
Not a snob, Deinum used Oregon public television to “demonstrate for us relevant and purposeful ways of speaking for ourselves, of confronting corporate media’s control of our theaters and public airwaves, and bringing ethics and aesthetics to bear on public life.”
PSU film professor Brooke Jacobson is writing a book about Deinum, and the above quote is from an essay about his influence.
Meanwhile, with the arrival of Wim Wiewel, Portland has its second dynamic Dutch intellectual urging Portland to think outside the box, when it comes to envisioning an intellectually, economically, and architecturally more abundant future.