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'Upriver/Downtown' film festival to take audience around the world

by: PHOTO BY: ELLEN SPITALERI - Greg Baartz-Bowman, Milwaukie Festival of Short Film organizer, and Henrik Bothe, master of ceremonies for the event, stand outside the Masonic Lodge in Milwaukie.What could be better than dinner and a movie? Dinner at a restaurant on Milwaukie’s restaurant row, and a whole bunch of movies, said Greg Baartz-Bowman, a Milwaukie resident and filmmaker.

He has organized “Upriver/Downtown — Milwaukie Festival of Short Film,” on Saturday, May 18; there will be two showings of the films, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9:15 p.m. Grants from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs and Celebrate Milwaukie Inc. enabled him to put together a slate of short films “that are representative of the best works filmmakers have done to launch their careers or demonstrate their abilities to audiences across the globe.”

He added, “We have films from Belgium, Australia and the United States; they showcase the best and brightest of the short-film genre.”

He chose the name for the film festival, he said, because of Milwaukie’s location, upriver, and the site of the showings, which will be downtown.

The “11 films in 90 minutes take the audience to a lot of different places. Some are documentaries, some are narrative stories. The beauty of short film is that it respects the audience’s ability to understand the setup; the audience will get it in a short amount of time,” Baartz-Bowman said.

He doesn’t want to give away too much about the films, but noted that one piece features the recreation of a Victorian poster owned by John Lennon, while another showcases the work of a filmmaker who did not even pick up a camera, instead he edited together archival footage from NASA to produce “one of the loveliest films I’ve ever seen.”

One film “brings Abraham Lincoln alive in a way that people will really feel it,” he added.

His personal favorite is the movie “Validation,” by Kurt Kuenne, who wrote and directed the film, served as cameraman and did the music.

This film revolves around a parking attendant who validates tickets.

“People approach him and ask to be validated and he tells them they are awesome — he sees the good in everyone. This has it all; it is the best of Hollywood in 16 minutes,” Baartz-Bowman said, adding that the film festival will end with “Validation,” so that the audience will leave on a “super-high.”

Local filmmakers

The festival will also showcase the different ways that filmmakers make film, “and we’ll do that by demonstration. We’ll show up to three local trailers made by three different local filmmakers, showing how they are using short films to get larger films birthed from that process,” Baartz-Bowman said.

Several of the filmmakers will attend the festival and speak about their work.

One of the speakers will be Brian Kimmel, who will show his film “Grabbed,” about land-grabbing corporations in Africa, part of which was filmed when he was a 20-year-old college student, caught in the middle of a civil war in that country.

Another speaker, Phiamma Ellis, will talk about “Home Skillet,” a movie about homelessness which she wrote and directed.

“We will also show the new trailer for “SEED: The Untold Story,” by award-winning local filmmaker Taggart Siegel. This is a pretty cool get,” Baartz-Bowman said.

Grants

He is grateful for the two grants he received to put on the film festival, Baartz-Bowman said, noting that most of the funding will pay for the facility and the use of a state-of-the-art sound system.

The purpose of the $3,800 Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs grant is to bring people to the county, and he thinks he was given the grant based on his showing of two films he made with Mark Gamba, “Lonely Tree — Old Growth in Peril at 3-Creeks” and “Un-Dam It; The Story of Kellogg Lake,” which each drew 200 people into downtown Milwaukie.

“Anytime people come together to see a film, this can translate into a better environment and community bonding,” he said.

“I have always wanted to show films since I was an 8-year-old kid watching my dad show films in a movie theater. Seeing people show up to see ‘Un-Dam It’ and ‘Lonely Tree,’ proved the desire people have in this town to see movies that are not in a multiplex and not in 3D.”

Anyone who enjoys movies will appreciate the film festival, Baartz-Bowman said, noting that none of the films have violence or abusive language.

He added, “This is the time and place to see a bunch of great films that will be acceptable to a vast group of people in their form and content.”

Fast Facts

"Upriver/Downtown — Milwaukie Festival of Short Film" is on Saturday, May 18, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

Venue: Masonic Lodge, 10636 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie; tickets: $8.

A range of short films suitable for the whole family; appropriate for children 10 years and older.

Produced by: Strawbale Films, visit strawbalefilms.com.

This program made possible by grants from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs and Celebrate Milwaukie Inc.

Visit milwaukiefilmfestival.com for more information.



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