Oregonians Rule: The Klamath Falls Independent Film Festival Celebrates Us
Bigfoot, The Ducks, Ty Burrell from “Modern Family,” Don Pedro Colley from Dukes of Hazzard, Truffles, and the Klamath Independent Film Festival (KIFF)—all Oregon treasures. For the second year in a row KIFF is the only film festival that is Oregon-centric. And the Festival plans to keep this niche going strong into the years ahead.
Jesse Widener, Executive Director for KIFF says, “We think that Oregon has been under-served in the film festival circuit.” With over 120 Oregon film submissions this year, excitement is in the air and soon to be on screen for the 6th annual event. Only a dozen entries came from outside the state including one from a New York filmmaker who came back to Oregon to produce the film, Seaside, about love and betrayal in a coastal town.
When asked why the director thought so many filmmakers were concentrated here, Widener speculated, “Oregon is a varied state. It is less populated than California, so filming is easier and there is overall less red-tape to get in the way, like obtaining permits or driving to locations.”
According to Widener, the whole event is an opportunity for people to come explore Klamath Falls and get to know the area. “You don’t want to go to a festival and see films and then go back to your room and hang out. The point is to experience the community.” This year, the film festival programs will have a list of unique businesses to check out while in town including, “Everybody’s Vintage” which is an antique shop with cool items like vinyl records and “Cranberry Station Soap Company” which carries striated rainbow-colored soaps.
For those who are new to attending a film festival, KIFF takes place at Ross Ragland Theater and Pelican Cinema and is about meeting filmmakers and making connections as well as seeing films. If you have an interest in how to make movies, show up because you could meet someone eager to assist according to Widener. Unfortunately, there is a wide chasm between those producing, and those watching, films at festivals. It tends to be young filmmakers and older festival attendees. But this does not have to be the case. Widener views KIFF as an opportunity ripe for students, families, area businesses and tourists to take advantage of an incredible talent pool.
Festivals are not just about documentaries. In fact, many upcoming filmmakers create narratives Widener explains. Why does this Executive Director have such a passion for film over photography (he is a photographer)? “Because the number of people who would go stand in front of one of my photographs for 10 minutes and get something out of it, is a sliver compared to the number of people who will sit in an audience and be engaged by film,” he says. “The chance that someone would go to a gallery and stand in front of my photographs for ten minutes is not likely. They will go see a film.”
Whether people are interested in vampires (For the Road); a behind the scenes look at the Britt Orchestra (Symphony for Nature: The Britt Orchestra at Crater Lake); adolescents struggling with loss or tough lives that leave them wanting (Mr. Peterson and Soldier); an aging musician still licking it up (The Last Hot Lick); Oregon’s great outdoors (Protected: A Wild and Scenic River Portrait), or movies with big name actors like Steve Buscemi (Lean on Pete), they will find it at this year’s festival. The opener, Lean on Pete is an adaptation of Portland writer, Willy Vlaudin’s novel. There are also two Medford residents, Andrew John and Robert Thomas Preston, who teamed up to create a narrative film called Obscura, about a photography student involved in a terrifying serial-killer scenario.
To experience the festival does not require a major time commitment, there are even shorts (less than an hour). People can get a pass to one day or one show at the event or to attend the entire shebang including the opening night reception—which requires a festival pass.
Klamath Falls Independent Film Festival
Friday, September 14 – Sunday, September 16
Ross Ragland Theater, 218 N 7th St., Klamath Falls
Pelican Cinema, 2626 Biehn St., Klamath Falls
$10 – $60