Last minute technical difficulties did not seem to put a damper on the start of the second annual Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival at the Columbia Center for the Arts.
Minutes before the first film was to start on Friday night, technicians were scrambling around the projector and AV booth, trying to get a video signal to cooperate, while a packed theater house patiently waited.
“We think it’s a problem with an HDMI cable, so we’ve narrowed it down to that. I can’t believe it, at noon today, it was working fine.” said festival director Catherine Butler.
Luckily, documentary film maker Lydia Smith, who was on hand for the screening of her film “Walking the Camino: Six ways to Santiago,” kept the audience attentive with details on the months of work that was entailed in making her 84 minute documentary on the world-famous spiritual pilgrimage. Editing over 300 hours of film and following the daily lives of over a dozen individuals on a limited budget was no easy task. But Smith’s work is being recognized at film festivals like this — “Camino” did win Best Full Length Documentary at the awards ceremony on Sunday.
The festival estimates that there were over 1,100 “visits” to the approximately 100 films that were shown over three days, at four different locations. While not possible for one person to see everything, the variety of material presented still made for an interesting experience for film afficionados, including 3-D choices. The festival presented awards to 15 different categories of film entries.
“I thought the festival went really well. People loved the 3-D segment. We feel it really made it special,” Butler said.
Portland film director Barret Rudich and poet Abi Mott were in attendance for the screening of his documentary film “A Place of Truth.” The film was featured in the studio room at the Arts Center on Sunday.
“Most of the seats were full, and the response, especially for the Q&A afterwards, was really wonderful, and I was encouraged by all that,” Rudich said.
Mott was the main subject in “A Place of Truth,” a performing street poet who travels the country, writing poems for passersby on her manual typewriter.
“Abi was able to write a few poems for people outside on the street during the festival and she really enjoyed that, and we used social media (Instagram and Facebook) to document that on our website,” Rudich said.
“Filming Abi in different places around the U.S. was a great experience. We had a small two-camera crew. We got some press attention when we filmed in New York City, a blogger from the New York Times came by and posted that online. Things really came together when we filmed in New Orleans.”
Rudich was impressed on how the film festival was organized, as a first time documentary filmmaker.
“It was very welcoming, very friendly, everyone that ran it did a fantastic job. The audience seemed eager to learn about the content of the film and how I made it. I don’t think those kind of conversations would happen at a really large festival. Just the quality of the questions that came out of the Q&A were really though-provoking to me.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Eileen Newman, a documentary filmmaker who submitted a film to the festival, but was not selected to be shown.
“They sent me a ticket to the festival anyway. I thought that was really classy for them to do that,” Newman said.
Dates for the 2014 Independent Film Festival are yet to be determined, but will likely be sometime in October or November.
Best Adventure, High and Hallowed
Best Short Documentary, Duk County
Best Feature Narrative, City Baby
Best Short Narrative, Curfew
Dan McCabe’s JBM Award, NaiHe River
Best Horror-SciFi, Love of My Life
Best Foreign: More than 2 Hours
Best College Film, Volar en Linea Recta
Best Student, K-12, The Talk
Best Full Length Documentary, Walking the Camino
Regional NW Award, Tiny
Saving Wild Spaces Award, Fighting for the Futuleufu
Most Inspirational, Maidentrip
Most Thought Provoking, Frack Nation
Filmmaker to Watch, David Angeles (Days Like This)