First Mt. Hood Film Festival declared a success

First impressions were positive in the first Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival Oct. 26-28.

More than 60 hours of film were shown on four screens in three buildings. Two Hood River 12-year-olds, Adam Wood and Saylor Sundby, won Best Local film (see details at right).

Columbia Center for the Arts sponsored the juried festival, which also featured three workshops, and mixed films from as far away as Japan and Belgium with more than a dozen of the 84 films being made in the Gorge.

Filmmakers, including those from the Gorge, got the chance to not only show their movies but stand and answer questions about their projects.

Festival organizer Catherine Butler said the inaugural festival was a success, with ticket sales exceeding expectations.

“We never sold out, but we had audiences for every film session. We got really good feedback from people and we’re going to debrief and look at what we can do better in the future. We are definitely doing it again,” Butler said.

Sound and light engineer Jason Foucault, a recent transplant to Hood River, said, “I think they’re doing a pretty good job, especially for the first one.”

Boise director Christian Lyborg said, “This is the first time I’ve been to Hood River. We rolled into town and took a look around asked ‘How come there hasn’t been a festival here before?’” said Lyborg, in town with set designer Jim Fearborn to show their suspense film “Crawlspace.”

Lyborg said, “This seems like a great place to have a film festival. We’re both impressed. It’s a well-organized event.”

Foucault, who has worked the Breckenridge Film Festival in Colorado and numerous other small festivals, said, “It’s not an easy thing to get going, especially with multiple venues. Every director wants their film to have certain slots and be prominent.”

Stacey Shaw of Hood River, who made ”Baby Boy Church,” said, “It’s amazing to create something and then have it shown here where all the people I love live and know me and I know them so well that I can share something that was really important to me. For them to see it’s wonderful.

“I made this movie because I had a personal experience that made me want to tell the story of late-discovery adoptees, people who find out that one or both of their parents are not who they had believed, and what that means to go through that identity shift late in life,” Shaw said.

“It is (close to my heart). I feel I was fortunate to have it shown three times outside of Hood River, so that this is not my first time — because I think I would be more nervous than I am. Now I really feel comfortable with showing it.”

Daniel Dancer of Mosier shared Shaw’s feeling of presenting something to his own neighbors.

His film “The Art of Dam Removal” chronicled 20 years of kinetic art installations involving people interacting with props to dramatize the breaching of Condit Dam on the White Salmon. That breach actually happened on Oct. 17, 2011, “the best day of my life,” said Dancer, a photographer and art activist who made one previous film and now wants pursue video rather than still photography.

He mixed personal footage from 1993-2003 with news coverage of the Condit Dam controversy, on up to tape of its removal and revival of the river.

“To think it’s actually happened, to document something that took 20 years for the dam to come out and now to actually share the reality of it with a lot of people, is just great,” Dancer said.

“The dam actually did come out. People have been following this a very long time. It went from the impossible to possible and now it’s a done deal, and to be able to document that and share it with people, at this film festival, the first one for Hood River, is pretty exciting.”

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