Anne Richardson

Crash Course: Sheldon Renan

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Sent by Ben Popp, Michelle Mathews came to me with a request for a crash course on Sheldon Renan, one of the most important figures in Oregon film history.

Here you go, Michelle!

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Sheldon Renan at the NEA, timeline

Sheldon Renan at the NEA, in MovieMaker Magazine

Interview with Sheldon Renan, on Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Sheldon’s 1967 book, An Introduction to the American Underground Film, at Issuu

“The underground film is a medium of and for the individual as explorer and artist.” Sheldon Renan

If you want to see the size of Sheldon Renan’s influence, check out this page of citations on Internet Archive.

Sheldon Renan spoke at the 2018 Oregon Film History Conference, held on May 4 in UO’s White Stag Auditorium. Here he is at the reception for speakers held the night before the conference, at Black Hat Books. Thank you, Fred Nemo!

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Sheldon is in the back, in profile, speaking with Will Vinton, seen from behind. Other conference speakers in the room: Ellen Thomas, Ben Truwe, Monte Wolverton, Dennis Nyback. Other guests pictured: Patrick Rosenkranz, Bartholomew Bott, Ira Deutchman, Janeese Jackson, Ross Lienhart, Bill Crawford, Tim Williams. Photo credit: Gretchen Harmon.

During this year’s Oregon Film History Conference, Michele Kribs, winner of the 2017 Elmer Buehler Award for Film Preservation, bestowed that honor on Sheldon Renan, the 2018 recipient.

Sheldon Renan also serves on Oregon Cartoon Institute’s advisory board.

Here’s a mini bio for people who don’t like following links:

Sheldon Renan figures into American film history because of his effectiveness as an advocate, on a federal level, for regional (what we now call “independent”) film. Even before he went to the NEA, he had impact. His 1967 book, An Introduction to the American Underground Film, shifted the paradigm for young filmmakers. You didn’t have to go to Hollywood. You could become successful in your basement/loft/backyard.

Born in Portland in 1941, graduated Cleveland High School in 1959, wrote his book in 1967. Changed the face of federal funding for film in 1970.

Sheldon’s NEA initiative funded Northwest Film Center, which was founded in 1971 by Brooke Jacobson and Bob Summers. The grant money set aside by Sheldon’s initiative also jumpstarted Pacific Film Archive (founded by Sheldon) in Berkeley, Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, and Detroit Film Theater. All are going strong.

That’s it, Michelle! That’s the OCI crash course on this influential Oregonian.

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

 

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Oregon Film History Conference/May 4, 2018

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What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

On Friday, May 4, 2018, Oregon Cartoon Institute presents the fourth annual one day Oregon film history conference.

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The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals. It is small in size, and designed to encourage interdisciplinary engagement, open ended conversation, and professional networking.

We limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

This year’s conference focuses on the minor cinemas of Oregon: newsreels, educational films, industrial films, promotional films, scientific films, television commercials, student films, experimental films, animation, home movies. It will culminate with a conversation with an artist who began in one of the minor cinemas, experimental animation, and became one of the most important figures in Oregon film history.

Here is the list of the 2018 presenters.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: NEWSREELS

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Ben Truwe, on A. C. Allen (1875-1972)

When A. C. Allen arrived in Medford in 1904, he was not a filmmaker. In 1915, he brought his first film, Grace’s Visit To The Rogue River Valley, to the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Ben Truwe researches Southern Oregon history, including its cultural history, and is on the board of Southern Oregon Historical Society and on the board of Oregon Cartoon Institute. His 2013 Oregon Cartoon Institute lecture, “More About Goofy: Pinto Colvig, Oregon Animation Pioneer”, was presented in partnership with ASIFA. He spoke about Pinto Colvig at the 2015 Oregon Film History Invitational, and at SOHS in October 2016.

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Worth Mathewson, on William L. Finley (1876 – 1952)

William L. Finley, the first Oregon independent writer-director-producer to receive international distribution, sold newsreels to Pathé. He wore other hats as well – Larry Lipin wrote about Finley’s Good Roads advocacy (work he shared with A. C. Allen) in Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Worth Mathewson is the author of William L. Finley: Pioneer Wildlife Photographer, published by Oregon State University Press in 1986.

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Ellen Thomas/on Oregon’s earliest independent filmmakers and their legacies

Portland’s appeal as a commercial film center began in the early 20th century when the city’s rail connections, varied scenery, robust theatre community and other resources combined to launch careers for local filmmakers and develop audiences for locally made films. What role did newsreel filmmaking in particular have in this setting, and how did those who made them shape the industry going forward?

Ellen Thomas published “‘Scooping the Local Field’: Oregon’s Newsreel Industry, 1911-1933” in the Fall 1989 Oregon Historical Quarterly. Her masters thesis at the UO, Commercial motion picture production in Portland, Oregon, 1910-1928, inspired other articles about early Oregon film for OUR TOWN, OREGON SCREEN MONTHLY and other publications. She is the director of education at Northwest Film Center.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: HOME MOVIES

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Monte Wolverton, on Basil Wolverton (1909 – 1978)

Basil Wolverton grew up with the movies. In home movies made after he had achieved national success as a print cartoonist, he paid homage to the silent comedy he saw in his youth. Born in Central Point, Oregon, Basil Wolverton grew up in Vancouver, Washington.

Monte Wolverton is an artist, painter, sculptor and print cartoonist. He advised the 2014 Fantagraphics biography of his father, Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton, and the 2016 Oregon Historical Society exhibit Comic City USA.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: INDUSTRIAL FILMS

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Sheldon Renan, on Douglas Engelbart (1925 – 2013)

On December 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart gave a demonstration of interlinked personal computers to the Association for Computing Machinery/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in San Francisco. The demonstration, videotaped by a young technophile named Stewart Brand, became known as THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS because of the shockingly huge number of innovations unveiled within it. Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in 1943.

Sheldon Renan’s An Introduction To The American Underground Film, published in 1967, influenced generations of filmmakers. He continues to write and speak about the intersection of art and technology. He grew up watching movies at the Blue Mouse in downtown Portland.

THE MINOR CINEMAS: EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATION

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Dennis Nyback & Anne Richardson, on Will Vinton

Will Vinton transformed Oregon film history when, after winning a 1975 Oscar for the animated short CLOSED MONDAYS, an honor shared with co-creator Bob Gardiner, he returned to Portland to open his own studio. Hundreds of Oregon artists, animators and non-animators alike, were inspired by Vinton’s independence and success.

Dennis Nyback will give a rapid fire tour of downtown Portland theater history, explaining how and why CLOSED MONDAYS came to be discovered in a tiny art house theater on SW Taylor. Anne Richardson will discuss the way a key assist from a vestigial remnant of Portland’s silent era filmmaking infrastructure supported Will Vinton’s emergence as an independent film entrepreneur.

Will Vinton will join us.

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Randy Finley, the Seattle based independent distributor who took CLOSED MONDAYS to Los Angeles for its qualifying run, will join us as well.

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During this fast paced day of film history immersion, we take time out to salute our heroes.

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Last year, film preservationist Gary Lacher presented the 2017 Elmer Buehler Award to Oregon Historical Society film archivist Michele Kribs. This year, Michele will make the presentation to the 2018 award winner, Sheldon Renan.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

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William L. Finley, in Alaska

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our 2018 partner, UO Libraries. Thank you, Elizabeth Peterson.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Oregon Film. Thank you, Tim Williams.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Oregon Film Museum. Thank you, Mac Burns.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor Dark Horse. Thank you, Mike Richardson.

Oregon Cartoon Institute salutes our sponsor James Blue Alliance. Thank you, Richard Blue & Dan Blue.

The fourth annual Oregon Film History Conference was made a success by the following participants:

Carl Abbott, PSU/emeritus
Gwen Asbury, City of Portland, Archives
Bill Baars, Lake Oswego Public Library
Libby Burke, Bonneville Power Administration Library
Devin Busby, Portland City Archives
Mac Burns, Oregon Film Museum
E. J. Carter, Lewis and Clark, Special Collections
David Chelsea, artist
Patricia Clark-Finley, artist
Hector Cobb, Portland Public Schools
Laurence Cotton, writer-producer
Hannah Crumme, Lewis and Clark, Special Collections
Ira Deutchman, Columbia University
Rich Dubnow, Image3D
Bill Failing, Oregon Historical Society
Randy Finley, Seven Gables Theaters
Mary K. Gallagher, Benton County Historical Society
Fellene Gaylord, Clark College
Kohel Haver, Swider/Haver
Gretchen Harmon, author
Eric Hillerns, Design Week
Kami Horton, Oregon Public Broadcasting
Brooke Jacobson, Northwest Film Center co-founder
Ron Kramer, author
Michele Kribs, Oregon Historical Society
Gary Lacher, Movie Preservation, Inc.
Christopher Lucas, Southern Oregon University
Roberta Margolis, photographer
Worth Mathewson, author
Teresa McQuisten, Eltrym Theater
David Millholland, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Nancy Niland, Oswego Heritage Council
Dennis Nyback, Dennis Nyback Films
Phil Oppenheim, Scripps TV/Panopticon Communication
Erik Palmer, Southern Oregon University
Elizabeth Peterson, University of Oregon/Curator of Moving Images
Heather Petrocelli, Manchester Metropolitan University
Ben Popp, Northwest Film Center
Sheldon Renan, independent scholar
Anne Richardson, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Brad Robison, Jacknife-Zion-Horseheaven Historical Society
Hunter Shobe, Portland State University
Larry Telles, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Ned Thanhouser, Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
Ellen Thomas, Northwest Film Center
Ben Truwe, Southern Oregon Historical Society
Will Vinton, filmmaker
Tim Williams, Oregon Film
Monte Wolverton, artist
Precious Yamaguchi, Southern Oregon University

Thank you all!

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Founded in 2007 by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute uses new media, archival film, research, networking, and cross disciplinary discussion to explore Oregon film, animation, and print cartooning history.  It has no brick and mortar presence, and always works in partnership with organizations which do.

 

 

Writing the West: Tim Barnes on CES Wood’s A Book Of Tales (1901)/Jan. 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

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On Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 7:00 PM, Tim Barnes comes to Black Hat Books to continue the discussion of fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Poet Tim Barnes is author of Mother and the Mangos (a one-poem book illustrated by Angelina Marino-Heidel, M Kimberly Press and Charles Seluzicki Fine Books, 1991), Star Hill Farm and the Grain of What is Gone (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 1994), Falling through Leaves (Marino Press, 1995), Of Almonds and Angels (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 2007), Definitions for a Lost Language (Skookum’s Tongue Press, 2010, 2014).

Very fitting that the life of poet C. E. S. Wood would be documented by a poet! Tim is co-author, with Edwin Bingham, of Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood

On January 18, Tim will discuss Wood’s A Book Of Tales, a 1901 collection of Pacific Northwest Indian myths and legends, with Anne Richardson, director of Oregon Cartoon Institute/Oregon Movies, A  Z. Together, they hope to shed some light on Wood’s love of fine press printing as well as on his decision to collect and transcribe Pacific Northwest Indian oral literature.

Who was Wood?

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Lt. Charles Erskine Scott Wood arrived in Oregon in 1874 to fight Indians. A recent West Point graduate, he had been forbidden by his father to follow a literary career. Two Indian Wars and one law degree later, Wood was a well respected member of Portland’s business community, pursuing (and achieving) financial success with a large side order of social and political activism. In Wood Works ,Tim Barnes and Edwin Bingham write “Soldier, poet, attorney, satirist, anarchist, reformer, bon vivant, painter, and pacifist — —-C. E. S. Wood was all of these.”

Wood was one of the founding fathers of Portland Art Museum, an institution which educated generations of Oregon artists, some of whom chose to become filmmakers. If PAM’s early start date is important to Oregon film history, then Wood, who pushed for that early start date,  is important to Oregon film history as well.

Re-issued in 1929 by Vanguard Press in New York City, the first edition of C. E. S. Wood’s A Book Of Tales was hand set and hand printed here in Portland in 1901.

Who writes the West? Tim Barnes, Anne Richardson and Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, will pool their thoughts on January 18, 2018, at 7:00 PM.

Thank you, Fred Nemo, for providing a home for this conversation.

Please join us!

What: Tim Barnes, Anne Richardson & Fred Nemo discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Where: Black Hat Books, 2831 NE MLK Bvld

When: Jan 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

Admission: Free

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Tim Barnes’ discussion of C. E. S. Wood’s A Book Of Tales is the second in the Writing The West series at Black Hat Books. The first conversation, in October 2017, featured Rich Wandschneider and Richard Etulain discussing Daniel Sharfstein’s book Thunder In The Mountains: Chief Joseph, O. O. Howard, and the Nez Perce War.

Oregon Cartoon Institute + World Affairs Council Receive Arab Language Cartoonists@Black Hat Books/Oct. 31, 3:00 PM

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On Oct 31st, at 3:00 PM, Oregon Cartoon Institute joins World Affairs Council of Oregon in welcoming a group of Arab language political cartoonists who are touring the country as part of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Project.

The visiting artists include:

Mr. Belkacem Lamine Mohamed Dahmane, from Algeria
Mr. Ahmed Khaleel Hadi Al Obaidi, from Iraq
Ms. Safaa Abuaathra, from Palestinian Territories
Mr. Suliman Mohammed M. Alanazi, from Saudi Arabia
Ms. Nadia Dhab Bouraoui, Mr. Hamdi Mazoudi, from Tunisia

The objectives of their tour:

“Examine the role played by political cartoonists in the United States and their influence on public opinion and government policy
Explore constitutionally guaranteed press freedoms in the United States, and the accompanying principles of editorial expression
Review and become familiar with cartoonist training in the United States
Illustrate the effective use of humor and how it supports civic activism and contributes to a dynamic and pluralistic political system”

Oregon Cartoon Institute is very interested in the role cartooning plays in promoting and maintaining the exchange of ideas essential to a democracy. Oregon’s contributions to American political cartooning include longtime cartoonist at The Oregonian, Jack Ohman (now at the Sacramento Bee), who won the Pultizer in 2016, and Matt Wuerker, who graduated from Lewis & Clark in ’79, and won the Pulitzer in 2012. They both follow the first American born political cartoonist to achieve nationwide fame, Homer Davenport (1867-1912), from Silverton, Oregon.

The award winning graphic journalism of Oregon cartoonist Joe Sacco inspired Art Spiegelman to say “In a world where Photoshop has outed the photograph as a liar, one can now allow artists to return to their original function – as reporters.”

When (Oregon born and raised) Bill Plympton says to audiences “Cartoons are powerful. They can change the way people think.”, he speaks with authority. Before he was an Oscar nominated animator, he was a political cartoonist for ten years.

To honor the visit from the International Visitor Leadership Project delegation of Arab language political cartoonists, Oregon Cartoon Institute has compiled a list of Oregon artists who interfaced with Arab culture/politics at some point in their careers.

HOMER DAVENPORT

1906
Oregon cartoonist Homer Davenport (1867-1912) travels to Syria to purchase Arabian horses

1909
My Quest of the Arabian Horse
Nonfiction book
By Oregon cartoonist (and horse breeder) Homer Davenport

JOE SACCO

1996
Palestine
Graphic journalism documenting a 1991-1992 visit to the Occupied Territories
By Portland cartoonist Joe Sacco
Winner, 1996 American Book Award

2009
Footnotes On Gaza
Graphic journalism documents Sacco’s investigative reporting about two massacres which took place in Gaza in 1956
By Portland cartoonist Joe Sacco
Winner, 2010 Eisner Award

PSU

1959
Middle East Studies Center opens at Portland State University
“The first federally supported undergraduate program for Arabic language and Middle East area studies in the nation.”

DIANA ABU JABA

2012
Birds Of Paradise
Novel
By Portland author Diana Abu Jabar, whose father is from Jordan
Winner, 2012 Arab American Book Award

PENNY ALLEN

2013
EN RETARD POUR L’ENTERREMENT DE MA MERE
French language experimental documentary, made in Algeria
By Portland filmmaker Penny Allen.

JAMES LONGLEY

2006
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
Documentary made in Baghdad
by Eugene, Oregon filmmaker James Longley
Nominated for 2007 Academy Award

JAMES BLUE

1962
LES OLIVIERS DE LA JUSTICE
French & Arab language narrative film made in Algiers
Directed by Portland filmmaker James Blue (1930-1980)
Winner, 1962 Critics Prize at Cannes Film Festival

Here’s a brief trailer for LES OLIVIERS DE LA JUSTICE.

Here’s the entire film, uploaded by Archives Numériques du Cinéma Algérien.

Portland historian Carl Abbott joins David Chelsea, Sheldon Renan, Patrick Rosenkranz, Dennis Nyback and Anne Richardson, all veterans of Oregon Cartoon Institute’s 2016 UNDERGROUND USA symposium, to welcome the World Affairs Council delegation on Oct. 31st, 2017.  Thank you to Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, for his hospitality!

(Ed. note, after the fact: We were lucky to have graphic journalist Joe Sacco join us as well.)

Black Hat Books, at 2831 NE MLK Blvd in Portland, will be open for business throughout the event. I am curious to see who stops in to buy a book, and ends up joining a conversation about the role of the free press in a democracy!

 

Writing the West: Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain at Black Hat Books/Oct 12, 7:00 PM

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On Thursday Oct 12, at 7:00 PM, long time friend of Oregon Cartoon Institute, Rich Wandschneider, comes to Black Hat Books to discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Rich Wandschneider is the director of the Alvin M. and Betty Josephy Library of Western History and Culture, located within the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon.

Rich will discuss Daniel J. Sharfstein’s new book “Thunder In The Mountains: Chief Joseph, O. O. Howard, and the Nez Perce War” with armchair Howard historian, Anne Richardson. Rich and Anne have been discussing the complexity of the Nez Perce War narrative, on and off, for nearly 20 years.

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“Those who know little about General Howard, other than that he was a founder of Howard University, will be especially interested in following his story to the end.”—Henry Louis Gates, Harvard University

Howard, the enigma. In the past, historians handled the one armed general’s multiple identities by not acknowledging them. In Merrill Beal’s “I Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War”,  we read about Howard’s years as head of the Freedman’s Bureau in a footnote. In Alvin B. Josephy’s “The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest”, we never read about them at all.  We never learn why he was in the West.

Howard went West as a man in exile. His idealistic activism at the Freedman’s Bureau had come with a cost: political enemies.  Two congressional hearings (charges dismissed) left his career in ruins. He accepted re-assignment to the Department of the Columbia where he followed orders to force the Nez Perce off land he knew they owned. Sharfstein frames Howard’s and Joseph’s relationship, usually seen as one of mutual incomprehension, as a contest of political wills.

Howard’s back story complicates our understanding of the West. Where is the simple chessboard of cowboys vs Indians?

Joining us for the evening to help sort this out will be a longtime Oregon literary historian.

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Richard W. Etulain is a prize-winning historian specializing in the history of the American West. He has been honored as president of both the Western Literature and Western History Associations. His most recent book is about Ernest Haycox, a Portland writer who grew up alongside a brand new art form: the Western.

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Who writes the West? Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain, Anne Richardson, and Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, will pool their thoughts on October 12, at 7:00 PM.

Thank you, Fred Nemo, for providing a home for this conversation.

Please join us!

What: Rich Wandschneider, Anne Richardson, Richard Etulain & Fred Nemo discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Where: Black Hat Books, 2831 NE MLK Bvld

When: Oct 12, 7:00 PM

Admission: Free

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This evening with Rich Wandschneider and Richard Etulain is the first in a series of Writing The West conversations. The second event, in January 2018, will zero in on one specific book in Oregon literary history, C. E. S. Wood’s 1901 A Book Of Tales, with guest speaker Tim Barnes.

Timeline illuminating Oregon’s three NEA advocates for regional film: 1962-1977

I recently drew up a timeline illuminating the minor cinemas of Oregon, 1910-1965 for Sheldon Renan. Before continuing the timeline in a second installment, I want to zoom in for a close up on a pivotal period in Oregon film history.

I italicize events which take place outside the state lines. Some people don’t consider these events part of Oregon film history. I do.

In 1962, Portlander James Blue makes his first feature, THE OLIVE TREES OF JUSTICE, in Algeria. It wins the Critics Prize at Cannes.

In 1967, Portlander Sheldon Renan publishes the instant classic, An Introduction to the American Underground Film.

In 1969, James Blue‘s A FEW NOTES ABOUT OUR FOOD PROBLEM is Oscar nominated for Best Documentary. He becomes Oregon’s first Oscar nominated film director.

In 1970, James Blue and Sheldon Renan are appointed to the NEA’s first media funding panel. At the time, Blue was the founding director of Rice Media Center in Houston, Renan the founding director of Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley.

From 1965 (the year of its founding) to 1970, the NEA directed all their film funding to AFI in Los Angeles. Once on the NEA media funding panel, Sheldon Renan immediately voices his objection to this. He proposes that the NEA support a network of regional film centers. Pacific Film Archives would be one. There would be three additional ones in Portland, Chicago, and Detroit.

James Blue, a member of the founding faculty of AFI, was expected to vote against this idea, as it would drastically cut AFI’s budget. Instead, Blue voted in favor. Renan’s initiative is approved.

In 1971, the NEA invites Portlander Brooke Jacobson, a leader of the Portland State Film Committee, to submit a grant accessing the funds set aside by Renan’s 1970 initiative. Jacobson and co-founder Bob Summers open the Northwest Film Study Center on Culpepper Terrace with a $15,000 NEA start up grant. Portland Art Museum is the fiscal sponsor.

In 1973, Sheldon Renan organizes a national conference of regional film advocates, partially funded by the NEA. James Blue and Brooke Jacobson are in a study group which travels to film centers across the country.

In 1974, Brooke Jacobson founds The Media Project in Portland, a non profit which acts as a resource for regional filmmakers. The Media Project distributes the films of Will Vinton, Gus Van Sant, Jim Blashfield, and others.

In 1977, James Blue founds SWAMP (Southwest Alternate Media Project),  a non profit which acts as a resource for regional filmmakers, in Houston.

In 1977, the names of Sheldon Renan, Brooke Jacobson (then known as “Denise”), and James Blue appear on the list of authors of a commissioned report on the status, nationwide, of regional support for independent film.

Summary:

Three Portlanders, Sheldon Renan, Brooke Jacobson, and James Blue, worked together to advocate for regional, i.e. independent, film on a national level. Four regional film centers, proposed by Renan and supported by Blue, still exist today.

Northwest Film Center, co-founded by Jacobson, is one of them. Pacific Film Archive, founded by Sheldon Renan, is one of them. Later, a fifth regional film center was founded by James Blue in Houston. It too, still exists.

Sources:

There is no scholarship about the behind the scenes work of James Blue, Sheldon Renan and Brooke Jacobson at the NEA. All information about this aspect of their intertwined careers came directly from conversations with Sheldon Renan, Gerald O’Grady (another member of the 1970 NEA media panel), and Brooke Jacobson.

Support for Oregon Cartoon Institute’s ongoing research has come from projects funded by Kinsman Foundation and Miller Foundation. Kinsman Foundation’s support began with the Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival at Marylhurst University in 2009. Miller Foundation’s support began with the Mel Blanc Project, a partnership with Oregon Jewish Museum, in 2011.

Oregon Film History Invitational/May 5, 2017

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Ken Kesey, camera. Bill Murray, sound. 

What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

On Friday, May 5, 2017, Oregon Cartoon Institute presents the third annual one day Oregon film history conference.

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James Blue shooting VOUS N’AVEZ RIEN CONTRE LA JEUNESSE (1958) in Paris

The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals. It is small in size, and designed to encourage interdisciplinary engagement, open ended conversation,  and professional networking.

Here is the list of the 2017 presenters.

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Ronald Kramer/KGW Hoot Owls (1923-1933)

Mel Blanc was a member of this wildly improvisational Jazz Age radio show, beloved by hundreds of thousands of listeners. In this (staged) publicity shot, the KGW Hoot Owls are being rounded up by the Portland police.

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Ronald Kramer is the author of Pioneer Mikes: A History of Radio and Television in Oregon. He served as Executive Director of Jefferson Public Radio in Southern Oregon from 1974 to 2012 while also consulting for the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other organizations.

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Elizabeth Peterson/Lester Beck, UO’30

In 1947, Lester Beck made HUMAN GROWTH, the best middle school sex education film the world had ever seen. From this unlikely beginning, he became the head of the film department at USC in 1950. He brought Andries Deinum (1918-1995), future founder of PSU’s Center For The Moving Image, to Portland in 1957.

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Elizabeth Peterson is Humanities Librarian and Curator of Moving Images in University of Oregon’s Knight Library. With co-author Michael Aronson, she published “No Birds, No Bees, No Moralizing: Lester F. Beck, Progressive Educational Filmmaker” in The Moving Image 13.1 (2014).

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Gretchen Harmon/William B. Gruber, inventor of Viewmaster

William B. Gruber arrived in Portland from Bavaria in 1924. In 1939, he invented a handheld stereoscopic viewer which sold by the millions. Both the viewers and the reels were manufactured in Portland, providing work for Norm Dimick‘s processing lab, among many other ripple effects, both economic and cultural.

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Gretchen Harmon, the author of View Master: The Biography of William B. Gruber, is a Portland native and the youngest daughter of William B. Gruber.

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David Chelsea/At the Scribe (1972-1978)

Matt Groening, Bill Plympton, Jim Blashfield, Will Vinton and Gus Van Sant read the Portland Scribe. David Chelsea illustrated it.

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David Chelsea is the author of the graphic novels David Chelsea In Love and Welcome To The Zone, and the how-to books Perspective! For Comic Book Artists and Extreme Perspective! For Artists. He is one of the producers of 24 HOUR COMIC, a 2017 documentary in which he also appears.

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Julie Perini/Using OHS Moving Image Archives

Lew Cook (1909-1983), one of Portland’s earliest film entrepreneurs, founded the Moving Image Archive at Oregon Historical Society. In 2015, co-directors Julie Perini, Erin Yanke and Jodi Darby used the OHS archive to source rare footage documenting Portland’s history of protest. “Utilizing meditative footage taken at sites of police violence, experimental filmmaking techniques, and archival newsreel, ARRESTING POWER creates a space for understanding the impacts of police violence and imagining a world without police.”

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Julie Perini makes videos, films, installations, photographs and other objects, site-specific projects, essays and manifestoes, events and performances, and educational situations. She has an MFA from the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo, and teaches at PSU.

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David Cress/MHCC film school

From 1988 to 1995, under the leadership of Jack Schommer, Mount Hood Community College offered what might have been the only college degree program focused on Public, Educational & Government/Community Television. As part of a Portland metro area franchise, MHCC received a large grant to set up and sustain a community television training curriculum centered around cable access television and community media. One of its graduates is David Cress.

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David Cress is known for producing the hit comedy show Portlandia for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 2015. Other awards include work recognized by Peabody, Cannes, Clio, CA, and One Show, as well as Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival. He is the president of OMPA (Oregon Media Production Association).

We limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

Admission is by invitation. Seating is limited.

Contact me if you feel you have been left off the invitation list by mistake.

Oregon Cartoon Institute was founded to raise awareness of Oregon’s rich film, animation, and cartooning history. It has no brick and mortar presence, and always partners with organizations and institutions which do.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

This year the Oregon Film History Invitational receives support from Oregon Film, aka the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. Thank you, Tim Williams!

This year the Oregon Film History Invitational receives support from Oregon Film Museum. Thank you, Mac Burns!

Video projector donated by Picture This Production Services & Stage. Thank you, Tom McFadden, for arranging this.

Thank you in advance to all our presenters!

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Elmer Buehler (1911-2010), the BPA employee who chauffeured Woody Guthrie during his month of commissioned songwriting, and who later rescued BPA films from destruction. Thank you, Libby Burke,  for the photo.

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The third Oregon Film History Invitational was made a success by the following presenters and participants:

Carl Abbott, historian
Libby Burke, BPA
David Chelsea, artist
John Concillo, OCHC
David Cress, producer
John Dennis, photographer
Milan Erceg, filmmaker
Bill Failing, OHS
Larry Fong, curator/arts advocate
Gretchen Harmon, author
Kohel Haver, Swider Haver
David Hedberg, PSU
Michael Huntsberger, Linfield College
Brooke Jacobson, co-founder NWFC
Jody Jorgenson, filmmaker
Ronald Kramer, radio historian
Michele Kribs, OHS
Gary Lacher, film preservationist
Tom McFadden, Oregon Film Museum
Frann Michel, Willamette University
Dennis Nyback, film archivist
Julie Perini, PSU
Elizabeth Peterson, UO
Heather Petrocelli, film historian
Sheldon Renan, writer/theorist
Anne Richardson, OCI
Mike Richardson, Dark Horse
Brad Robison, systems designer
Joe Sacco, graphic journalist
Hunter Shobe, PSU
Janice Shokrian, OMPA
Eric Slade, OPB
Brad Studstrup, filmmaker
Larry Telles, Niles Film Museum
Ned Thanhauser, film preservationist
John Urang, Marylhurst University
Katherine Wilson, producer
Precious Yamaguchi, SOU

Thank you all!

Oregon Film History Invitational/May 13, 2016

 

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Helen Gibson in Hazards Of Helen (1915-1917)

What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists? Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

Three examples, among many others: Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, twelve time Emmy award winner Matt Groening, and two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton. All three artist-entrepreneurs move between film and print cartooning/comics, and are part of the history covered in Oregon Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit, Comics City, USA, in 2016.

On Friday, May 13, 2016, Oregon Movies, A to Z presents the second annual one day Oregon film history conference.

The conference is designed to showcase the complexity and diversity of Oregon film history for educators, historians, and museum professionals.

Here is the list of the 2016 presenters.

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Larry Telles/Ranch Girl On A Rampage: Helen Gibson, Hollywood’s first professional stuntwoman, performs in the 1913 Pendleton Round Up.

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Writer, producer and film historian, Larry is one of the founding members of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Niles, California. He is the author of Helen Gibson: Silent Serial Queen, and serves on the board of Film Alliance Northwest.

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Dennis Nyback/B. F. Shearer & Portland’s Film Row. Hollywood’s distribution infrastructure on NW 19th, which supported an analog media empire, includes a perfectly miniaturized showcase theater designed by Seattle based B. F. Shearer.

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Dennis Nyback advocated for the preservation of the Seattle Film Building in 1990. His chapter, Art and Grind in Seattle, appears in From The Arthouse To The Grindhouse: Highbrow And Lowbrow Transgression In Cinema’s First Century from Scarecrow Press. Master projectionist and film archivist, he is co-founder of Oregon Cartoon Institute.

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Patrick Rosenkranz/Carl Barks: The Oregon comic book auteur who invented Uncle Scrooge McDuck and inspired Robert Crumb.

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One of the premier scholars of the underground comics movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Patrick Rosenkranz has been writing about comics since 1969. His Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, chronicles the inception and development of the artistic revolution that changed comics forever.

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Libby Burke, librarian & archivist/Citizen Kahn: Stephen B. Kahn at BPA.

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Woody Guthrie recorded “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” for the first time in NE Portland, just blocks from where Libby Burke supervised the restoration of the Stephen B. Kahn film (“The Columbia”) for which it was commissioned. Libby Burke, MLIS, CA, came to the Bonneville Power Administration Library from the Lyman Museum and Mission House in Hilo, Hawai’i, where she participated in the pilot project for “’Ulu’ulu: The Henry Ku’ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai’i.”

Lunch – on your own (Alberta is one block away)

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Harry Dawson will speak about his decades long collaboration with artist Bill Viola.

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Harry Dawson attended the Pacific Northwest’s first film school, PSU’s Center For The Moving Image (1969-1981). His credits as director and cinematographer include National Geographic Explorer, The Guggenheim, NBC, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Paris Opera, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Leverage, MOMA, Discovery Channel,  The Whitney, The Plains Indian Museum, TNT, The Getty Villa, Tate Modern, PBS, Grimm, National Portrait Gallery, Twilight. From McMinnville.

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Richard Blue gives an update on the international search for the lost negative of James Blue’s THE OLIVE TREES OF JUSTICE (1962).

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Like his older brother James Blue (1930-1980), Richard spent much of his life in working outside the USA. He worked in Eqypt, India and Bangkok, first as a political scientist for USAID and later as an officer for the US Foreign Service, retiring as Senior Foreign Service Minister Counselor. He founded the James Blue Alliance in 2013. James Blue, Oregon’s first Oscar nominated director, made films in India, Africa, and South America. A member of the founding faculty of AFI, James Blue was the founding director of Rice Media Center in Houston. Both Blues graduated from Jefferson High School. From Portland.

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Mike Richardson will tell us about the transition he made from publisher to producer with DR. GIGGLES in 1992.

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Graduating from PSU with a degree in art, Mike Richardson always knew he wanted to make movies. He founded  Dark Horse Comics in 1986, and in 1992 made the move from the page to the screen by co-producing a low budget thriller, DR GIGGLES, in Portland. Dark Horse Comics was now Dark Horse Entertainment. In 1994, he was an executive producer on THE MASK, starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and based on characters he had created in 1985.  A steady stream of comics, films, comics based on films, and films based on comics, followed. In 2004, HELLBOY consolidated his place on Hollywood’s A list. From Milwaukie.

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Mike Richardson’s next film, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN,  opens on July 1, 2016.

We will limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

The day will be a whirlwind of information, designed to encourage open ended conversation, interdisciplinary engagement and professional networking.

It is by invitation only.

Seating is limited.

Contact me if you feel you have been left off the invitation list by mistake.

The second annual Oregon Film History Invitational is brought to you by Oregon Movies, A to Z, a project of Oregon Cartoon Institute, which in turn is fiscally sponsored by Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, a 501 c3 non profit organization.

This year we also receive support from Oregon Film, aka the Governor’s Office of Film and Television. Thank you, Tim Williams!

Oregon Cartoon Institute/Oregon Movies, A to Z was founded to raise awareness of Oregon’s rich film, animation, and cartooning history. It has no brick and mortar presence, and always partners with organizations and institutions which do.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say; This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.” Tom McCall

Thank you in advance to all our presenters!

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The second one day Oregon film history conference was made a success by the following presenters and participants.

Richard Blue, James Blue Alliance
Libby Burke, Bonneville Power Administration
Mac Burns, Oregon Film Museum
John Concillo, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Harry Dawson, filmmaker
Damon Eckhoff, artist/UX designer
Bill Failing, Oregon Historical Society
Michael Friend, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
Laurie Gabriel, filmmaker
Gretchen Gruber, writer
Abigail Howard, Bonneville Power Admistration
Brooke Jacobson, educator
Michele Kribs, Oregon Historical Society
Gary Lacher, film preservationist
Lois Leonard, filmmaker/historian
Ross Lienhart, PSU Foundation
Matt McCormick, Portland State University
Zach Margolis, animator
Tom McFadden, Oregon Film Museum
Frann Michel, Willamette
Marc Mohan, Oregonian/Oregon Arts Watch
Karen Munro, University of Oregon
Dennis Nyback, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Phil Oppenheim, Lionsgate/Comic Con
John Patterson, Willamette
Ben Popp, Northwest Film Center
Anne Richardson, Oregon Cartoon Institute
Mike Richardson, Dark Horse
Brad Robison, systems designer
Patrick Rosenkranz, writer/historian
Charlotte Rubin, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Kaye Silver, Bonneville Power Administration
Khris Soden, artist
Larry Telles, writer/historian
Andreas Wallach, filmmaker
Tim Williams, Film Oregon

Thank you all!

 

 

Oregon Film History Invitational/May 8, 2015

Basil Wolverton's photo of Buster Keaton during The General (1926)Buster Keaton, Cottage Grove 1926 (Photo: Basil Wolverton)

On May 8, 2015, Oregon Movies, A to Z is holding a one day Oregon film history conference specifically designed for educators, historians and museum professionals.

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Sheldon Renan, Pacific Film Archives 1970

What is the history behind, and the meaning behind, Oregon’s regional strength in creating independent film artists?  Where does this longstanding strength fit within the overall intellectual and cultural identity of the Pacific Northwest?

Three examples, among many others: Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, twelve time Emmy award winner Matt Groening, and two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton. All three artist-entrepreneurs move between film and print cartooning/comics, and are part of the history covered in Oregon Historical Society’s upcoming exhibit, Comics City, USA, in 2016.

The conference is very low key and conversational. The point is just for people to hear about the wide variety of work being done.

Here is the list of presenters.

The day is split into two halves: Silent Era in the morning/Sound Era in the afternoon.

Silent Era

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Steve Stone & Gary Lacher, authors of Theatres of Portland
Electrified, movie mad Portland: Mapping the 1910’s/1920’s streetcar/movie theater infrastructure

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Gus Frederick, Homer Davenport Project
The political connections of Oregon’s first cartooning superstar, Homer Davenport, contradict his self description as “country boy”

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Ben Truwe, Southern Oregon Historical Society
Voice artist Pinto Colvig, one of Oregon’s earliest pop culture practitioners, directed an early feature length animated film (now lost, save a handful of archived 35mm frames), in San Francisco in 1916

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Walt Dimick, filmmaker
Second generation filmmaker/inventor Walt Dimick describes the business strategy of Norm Dimick, one of Portland’s first full time film entrepreneurs.

Lunch

Sound Era

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Dennis Nyback, Dennis Nyback Film Archive
George Olsen, Del Porter, Louis Kaufman, Mel Blanc, Phil Moore (pictured above), Johnnie Ray, Jane Powell: Portland talent hits sound era Hollywood

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Anne Richardson, Oregon Movies, A to Z
James Ivory & James Blue: the Third World debuts of Oregon’s first sound era directors

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Sheldon Renan & Brooke Jacobson, filmmakers/educators (the above photo is of Brooke Jacobson and Bob Summers, found on Heather Petrocelli’s wonderful @ReelPDX)
Portland’s film community in 1970-71: The birth of Northwest Film Study Center

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Richard Blakeslee & Tom Chamberlin, filmmakers
Teknifilm Lab nurtures the return of Portland independent film

We will limit the length of each presentation to leave lots of time for Q & A and discussion.

It will be a whirlwind of information, but that would be the point. To bring everybody up to speed with each other’s work (in a rough way) within one day.

The conference is by invitation. It is designed for educators, historians and museum professionals.

Seating is limited.

Contact me if you feel you have been left off the invitation list by mistake.

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 Dennis Nyback, co-founder of Oregon Cartoon Institute, will show a Portland film so rare that when we contacted the people who made it, they said it didn’t exist.

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This conference was inspired by the deluge of new information unleashed during the recent Mid Century Oregon Genius screening series which was supported by Kinsman Foundation and Miller Foundation, and fiscally sponsored by Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.

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The first one day Oregon film history conference was made a success by the following presenters and participants.

Laura Berg, writer-editor
Richard Blakeslee, filmmaker
Richard Blue, James and Richard Blue Foundation
Bill Bowling, film locations consultant, founder of the Deinum Prize
David Bryant, filmmaker
Libby Burke, Bonneville Power Administration Archives
Mac Burns, Oregon Film Museum
Tom Chamberlin, filmmaker
John Concillo, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Laurence Cotton, writer-filmmaker
Walt Dimick, filmmaker
Bill Failing, Oregon Historical Society
James Fox, UO Knight Library
Gus Frederick, Homer Davenport Project
Kohel Haver, Swider/Haver
Brooke Jacobson, educator
Jerry Ketel, Leopold Ketel
Gary Lacher, film preservationist
Taz Loomans, Blooming Rock
Frann Michel, Willamette University
David Milholland, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
Dennis Nyback, independent archivist
Elizabeth Peterson, UO Knight Library
Ingrid Renan, Exploding Green
Sheldon Renan, writer
Anne Richardson, Oregon Cartoon Institute/Oregon Movies, A to Z
Patrick Rosenkranz, author/historian
Jennifer Stoots, art historian/appraiser
Steve Stone, historian
Randall Stuart, Cerimon House
Ben Truwe, Southern Oregon Historical Society
Eric Underwood, City of Oregon City
Kate Wagle, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, UO

Thank you, all!

Harry + Homer: Mid Century Oregon Genius @ Hollywood Theatre/Jan. 16 & 17

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 On Friday Jan. 16 and Saturday Jan. 17, 2015, the Mid Century Oregon Genius series returns to the Hollywood Theatre to celebrate Harry Smith (1923-1991) and Homer Groening (1919-1996).

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Harry Smith was born in Portland. He grew up in Bellingham, Washington, a second generation black sheep whose paternal grandmother was a member of the most powerful family in town, the Deming family, whose Pacific American Fisheries had more than 30 canneries in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. An artist from childhood, he began making abstract animated films in San Francisco as an extension of his painting.

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This screen shot of Oregon Cartoon Institute’s 2013 screening of Heaven And Earth Magic at the Hollywood Theatre was taken by Paul Wolfe.

On Jan. 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM, film historian Dennis Nyback will return to the Hollywood with his multi-projector recreation of Harry Smith’s 1962 expanded cinema masterpiece HEAVEN AND EARTH MAGIC. Using meticulous cut out animation and a sound track composed entirely of sound effects, Smith tells an eerie, austere story of a woman, a toothache and a watermelon.

After HEAVEN AND EARTH MAGIC, Mississippi Records owner Eric Isaacson and Harry Smith historian Chuck Pirtle will join Dennis Nyback onstage to discuss Harry Smith’s dual identities as collector and artist, and to explore the connection between collecting and creating.

Homer Groening, Harry Smith’s generational cohort, grew up in Albany, Oregon, and spent his entire adult life in Portland. He opened his own advertising agency in 1958, and began making award winning short art films on the side in the early 1960s.

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On Jan. 17, 2015 at 7:00 PM, Mid Century Oregon Genius will present a program of Selected Short Films Of Homer Groening. Two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton will introduce. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Lisa Groening. She will discuss her father with three people who knew him as friend, colleague and role model: Tom Shrader, Ted Mahar, and Bill Plympton.

Thank you to the Groening family for their generous loan of films for this program!

Strange but true: although their lives and career paths diverge in every other way, Harry Smith and Homer Groening were both, in the early 1960s, making non narrative experimental films. A STUDY IN WET, by Homer Groening, uses a sound track composed of found sounds of water dripping, just as the score for Harry Smith’s stop motion animated feature, HEAVEN AND EARTH MAGIC, is composed entirely of sounds taken from one (1) sound effects record.

Just as Harry Smith appropriated images from 19th century mail order catalogs to populate his dream landscape, in A STUDY IN WET, Homer Groening turns an ordinary object, his surfboard, into Japanese calligraphy.

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Harry Smith and Homer Groening are a study in contrasts. One similarity: Both remained independent artists who chose their own projects, and reaped their own rewards. Since this was true for  James Blue and James Ivory, the other two filmmakers celebrated in Mid Century Oregon Genius,  it appears the independent writer-director-producer is, like wine, beer, salmon, stripping, and rain, a regional specialty.

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Posters and video by Josh Winsor. Thank you, Josh.

Tickets for the Jan. 16 screening of Harry Smith’s Heaven And Earth Magic and the Jan. 17 screening of Selected Short Films Of Homer Groening are available at www.hollywood.org.

See you there!

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Mid Century Oregon Genius is supported by grants from Kinsman Foundation and Miller Foundation, and is fiscally sponsored by the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.

The Jan. 17 screening of Selected Short Films Of Homer Groening is co-sponsored by MovieMaker Magazine.