Eastern Oregon Film Festival Astounds, Impresses and Continues to Grow

As Eastern Oregon Film Festival gears up for it’s third year, we take a look at the success of last year with a recap piece by Charles Trowbridge, writer for La Grande Life as well as EOU’s newspaper The Voice.

La Grande’s second annual Eastern Oregon Film Festival came off with few hitches and to raucous, widespread approval.

Though the festival had many sponsors, both local and regional, the main thrust behind the event came from the countless volunteer hours from the seven-member board, headed by Chris Jennings, EOFF board president.

“The festival board worked day and night for months on end and we managed to meet and, in most cases, exceed our goals,” Jennings said. “It was great to participate in and help create a benefit to the participating venues. We included 4 local businesses as our main venues and every one of them was positively affected by the event, both economically and promotionally.”

Opening night saw two lines extending down Adams Ave. from the Granada Theater down to the bike shop: one line for pass-holders, and one line for those who missed out on a great discount. Edna Henderson, manager of the Granada compared the opening to another well-known film:

EOFF - 2010 Opening Night
Shaun Daniel play live outside The Granada Theater for the opening night film of Eastern Oregon Film Festival. Photo by Laura Hancock

“It was a really solid opening. A comparison would be to the recent opening of Toy Story 3.” Large shoes to fill, but apparently filled amply.

Opening night, Nov. 21, featured “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a film about street art and its many subversive figures, as well as one memorable and decidedly non-subversive man. Either way, “Gift Shop” proved to be a provocative beginning to the festivities.
Benjamin Morgan, the festival’s programming director, was largely responsible to the selection of the various films displayed.

“This film festival has completely consumed my life for the past few months. But the community response last weekend was hugely validating,” he said. “If ever there was a question about the demand for independent film in this town, the audience response totally answered it.”

EOFF 2010 - Hillfolk Noir After Party
Boise Band Hillfolk Noir at EOFF after party held at White House Coffee in La Grande.

However, Morgan cautioned, the festival required many volunteer hours, and that there “just aren’t enough hours in the day. But we’re determined to find a way to fund staffing and operating expenses, and bring the fest back, bigger and better, next year.”

The festival garnered support from not only local businesses and individuals, but Eastern Oregon University as well. EOU President Bob Davies was a proponent of the festival and its potential benefits for the area and the university alike. EOU associate professor of media arts/multimedia Kevin Roy was also encouraged by the outcome of the festival and the impact it can have on Eastern’s new Film Production degree.

“There is a huge demand for growing a film community and film education here in La Grande. Already I’ve gotten inquiries about the film program from all over the country and from the looks of it, the program is going to continue to grow along with demand for professionals in Oregon’s burgeoning motion picture industry,” Roy said. “We are succeeding in attracting students and the Eastern Oregon Film Festival adds to the dimension of what we can offer. The festival provides the opportunity for students to see and experience not only great cutting edge international films but how a festival is organized, from the point of choosing films, to the marketing and public relations, all the way through to the exhibition.”

To read the complete article written by Charles Trowbridge see it originally posted here: http://lagrandelife.com/2011/02/eastern-oregon-film-festival-astounds-impresses-and-continues-to-grow/

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