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Water stars in film fest

Greg Baartz-Bowman wants to bring people to downtown Milwaukie not for one night, but for five nights. And he expects them to be entertained and educated by what he has planned for the third-annual Watershed Event, hosted by the Milwaukie Film Festival, starting with four films to be shown at the Masonic Lodge on Saturday, Jan. 25.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUE LEGACY/ALI SANDERSON - Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, discusses watershed issues on the Mississippi River on a ride-along with John Chick, right, field station director of the Illinois Natural History Survey.  The four movies include “Backyard,” by Deia Schlosberg; “Coal Resolution,” made by Baartz-Bowman; “Walk On Water,” by Portland filmmaker Andy Maser; and “St. Louis: Upstream America,” from Blue Legacy International.

The last film features Alexandra Cousteau, the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, famous underwater explorer, researcher and filmmaker.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUE LEGACY/ALI SANDERSON - Alexandra Cousteau chats with Steve Black, a fifth-generation farmer whose work is now implementing eco-solutions into industrial-scale agriculture.  Over the next four months, a series of films, based on themes of community, the environment and more, will be shown at the Masonic Temple, Baartz-Bowman said, usually on the third Saturday of the month.

These free films are suitable for children ages 12 and older. A $3,000 grant from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs made the film series possible.

Mark Gamba, a Milwaukie city councilor and Baartz-Bowman’s co-filmmaker, will host the event in January. First up on the agenda will be a celebration of the fact that citizens united to keep the county from cutting down historic oak trees and building a road on the outskirts of the Three Creeks Natural Area.

“We are going to update folks on the status of the natural area and the Sunnyside West extension, and celebrate the fact that the road has been removed from the transportation safety plan,” Baartz-Bowman said.

He added, “It’s pretty incredible that two years ago Chris Runyard sits high up in an oak tree at Three Creeks, saying we were going to stop the road, and now that is happening.”

Runyard is the leader of a dedicated group of volunteers, called the Tsunami Crew, that worked for years pulling ivy and removing blackberries and other invasives from that site, located behind the North Clackamas Aquatic Center, just off of Southeast Harmony Road.

The Tsunami Crew, along with a huge group of concerned citizens protested the construction of the road, and Baartz-Bowman documented part of that struggle in his film, “Lonely Tree — Old Growth in Peril at 3-Creeks,” shown at the first Watershed Event in 2012.

Last year’s film that headlined the second Watershed Event was based on another local issue, the removal of

the Kellogg Creek Dam; it was called “Un-Dam It!”

‘Coal Resolution’

“Coal Resolution,” the third film from Baartz-Bowman’s company, Strawbale Films, will debut at the event; it is 16 minutes long.

“It is a look back at the citizens of Milwaukie’s grass-roots effort to take on a controversial subject — coal transportation by train through Milwaukie. Because of their efforts, the Milwaukie City Council voted to ban coal transportation through the city,” he said.

Making this film was “really rewarding,” he said, adding that now the film is available to other groups in the 1,300 other communities along the rail line where coal may be transported.

“This film will be a little guide for them, and the citizens of Milwaukie can have a sense of accomplishment about what they did for their city, and how they can do the same for other communities with similar concerns.”

Visit strawbalefilms.com for more information.

‘Walk On Water’ and ‘Backyard’

Maser’s six-minute film, “Walk On Water,” which Baartz-Bowman described as “a wonderful film,” is based on a Portland athlete, paralyzed from the waist down by a skiing accident.

The young man, named Greg Mallory, looks for another outlet for athletics and finds himself involved with kayaking.

“The film is about the transformation of Greg. It is very moving, very uplifting to watch as he turns a negative into a positive,” Baartz-Bowman said.

The film is “beautifully shot and directed” by Maser, who works full time now for National Geographic. “Andy is one of the top-10 documentary filmmakers in the country,” he said.

Learn more at maserfilms.com.

“Backyard,” the next film to be shown that night, is a 28-minute look “at the underbelly of hydrofracking,” Baartz-Bowman said.

In the fracking process, high-pressure hoses inject water and a mix of chemicals into a well, going down a mile or two. This causes rocks to crack and release propane and natural gases.

But when the companies take out the natural gases, the process leaves behind the fracking chemicals, contaminating people’s wells, so they cannot drink the water or use it for bathing, Baartz-Bowman said.

Directed by a scientist from Montana, the title of the film comes from the fact that most of these wells are in people’s backyards. People can only own the surface of their land, and don’t own what’s underneath.

“This film pulls no punches,” Baartz-Bowman said.

Find out more by visiting facebook.com/deia.schlosberg.

‘St. Louis: Upstream America’

Baartz-Bowman found Blue Legacy International, a Washington D.C.-based organization “that calls attention to endangered watersheds around the world,” as he was researching other organizations that are dedicated to what he is interested in.

“These folks are at the forefront of watershed awareness and protection,” he said, noting that Alexandra Cousteau is a founding member.

“I’m super excited about what they are striving to do — focusing on cleaning up local watersheds in crisis, just like we are focusing on the Kellogg-Mt. Scott watershed.”

Cousteau is the narrator of “St. Louis:Upstream America,” a seven-minute film about the largest watershed in the United States — the Mississippi River.

“The film takes a really hard look at the river in Iowa and then all the way downstream to New Orleans. Eighteen million people get their water from the Mississippi and 41 percent of the rivers in the lower 48 states drain into it,” Baartz-Bowman said.

Learn more at bluelegacy.net.

Support

The film series will continue on Saturday, Feb. 15. All the films that night will revolve around the theme of how “individuals can stand up in a community and make a difference,” Baartz-Bowman said.

March 15’s films will be bike themed, he said, while on April 19, the films will all focus on food, especially growing your own and going from “yard to table.”

The May 10 event will feature short films fitting under the theme of upriver/downtown.

“These are the type of events that need to be supported. People need to come out to the whole series,” Baartz-Bowman said. “The response has been great so far. It was standing room only the last two years.

“These events play a role in building a better community. Supporting film nights is a way to keep the momentum growing for the city that we want; the city worth fighting for,” he said.

Watch the watershed

What: Watershed Event 2014, hosted by the Milwaukie

Film Festival

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Masonic Lodge, 10636 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie

Details: Free; suitable for ages 12 and up. The event is made

possible by a grant from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs.

More: Visit milwaukiefilmfestival.com for details.