Film fest spreads its reach

Movies from around the globe, close to home can now be seen downtown, uptown




What: The Columbia Gorge International Film Festival.

When: Wednesday-Aug. 14. The first film begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; the last at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14. See the festival website for a complete schedule.

Where: Various venues throughout downtown Vancouver and Uptown Village.

Cost: Free.

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This year’s Columbia Gorge International Film Festival will feature more than 300 films spanning several genres and ranging in run time from 21 seconds to more than two hours.

Film submissions came in from across the globe: France, Japan, Australia, Spain and Mexico. A handful of participating filmmakers are from Clark County.

The film festival, started by Breven Angaelica Warren, has undergone a number of changes since its 2008 launch. It began as the Washougal International Film Festival. Last year, it moved to the Vancouver Convention Center at the Hilton Vancouver Washington and was renamed the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the festival is spreading across downtown Vancouver and Uptown Village, with screenings at about a dozen locations, including the newly renovated Kiggins Theatre.

What: The Columbia Gorge International Film Festival.

When: Wednesday-Aug. 14. The first film begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; the last at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14. See the festival website for a complete schedule.

Where: Various venues throughout downtown Vancouver and Uptown Village.

Cost: Free.


“We’re hoping that this will get more of the community involved,” said Warren, a 32-year-old filmmaker who spent several years in Washougal and whose parents, Suzy and Don Warren, still reside there.

For the first time, the festival is teaming with Uptown Outdoor Movie Nights and will present an al fresco screening of the Teal Greyhavens documentary film “Cinema Is Everywhere” ( The outdoor event will be Friday at 23rd and Main streets. Music starts around 7:30 p.m., and the movie begins around 8:45 p.m.

Also new this year, festival organizers have a headquarters: 105 W. Sixth St., formerly home to Sixth Street Gallery, through the end of the festival. People are encouraged to stop by the office and offer feedback.

Additionally, the 2011 festival is offering more musical performances and increased opportunities for audience participation. Angst Gallery, at 1015 Main St., will have a hotline where people can leave voice-message feedback about the festival. New York-based film artist Dustin Grella then will animate the messages for next year’s event.

Warren is encouraging filmmakers to attend the screenings of their films. Many of the artists also will offer question-and-answer sessions. Film introductions and discussion moderations will be handled by actors from the Vancouver-Portland area.

Among the local talent in this year’s event is Vancouver filmmaker and veteran actor Alexander “Sandy” MacKenzie.

MacKenzie is the president and CEO of Highland Light Productions, a Vancouver-based independent film company started earlier this year. Highland Light’s first film, “Dancing on the Edge,” will make its premiere during the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Kiggins, 1011 Main St.

“There is nothing I am more delighted about than being able to take the hometown picture with the hometown cast and crew, and have our premiere at Kiggins,” MacKenzie said. “That’s magic. It’s a dream come true.”

MacKenzie also has a screenplay accepted for consideration for the Best Original Screenplay award at the festival. “Michael’s Ride,” a working title, is the next feature film that Highland Light plans to make. MacKenzie is raising funds to finance the project. Like “Dancing on the Edge,” “Michael’s Ride” is the story a struggling teenage girl with a passion. This time, instead of dance, it’s horses.

This will be MacKenzie’s first screening of a project in Warren’s festival, but another local filmmaker is a repeat participant.

Vancouver actress, filmmaker and musician Hollie Olson will be making her second Columbia Gorge International Film Festival appearance. Last year, Olson screened the short film “The Salon.” This time, she entered a nine-minute dramatic short film, “The Grade,” which she wrote, directed, produced and edited. She also composed and recorded music for the film.

“The Grade” was filmed in Vancouver and Portland, and features local actors, including Vancouver’s Brandon Daniel and Trysh Hill, and centers on a college girl with an overly demanding father.

“It’s got a little bit of a twist ending,” Olson said.

“The Grade” is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. Friday showing at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

Olson also have promotional materials at the festival talking about her upcoming project, “Interviews with Aunt Gabby,” a family comedy-drama starring Adrienne King of “Friday the 13th” fame.

Also participating in this year’s festival is Olson’s boyfriend, Chris R. Wilson. The two met about three years ago when she auditioned for a part in his 22-minute film, “James vs. Reality.”

The film is a comedy with science-fiction and action elements. Wilson, a Vancouver resident, wrote and directed it with former Vancouver resident Tim Feeney. They filmed at a number of Clark County locations, including various Camas spots, the golf course at The Cedars on Salmon Creek in Brush Prairie and outside the Academy building in downtown Vancouver, as well as in downtown Portland.

The movie stars Vancouver’s Jonathan Senske as James, a patient in a mental institution who believes he has superpowers. Olson plays Dr. Anne, James’ psychologist.

“James vs. Reality” will screen in the same showcase as “The Grade.” It has been accepted to 22 film festivals, including Dragon*Con. “James vs. Reality” won the Best Comedic Short award at the DIY Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Award of Excellence at The Accolade, a San Diego, Calif., film festival.

“It’s going to be a blast. We’re so excited,” Olson said.

This will be Wilson’s first time with his own film in the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. Like Wilson, Vancouver’s Bill Brown will be making his debut at the event with “Tango Noir.”

Brown said he originally intended the crime caper to be a TV series. He’s still pursing that angle, but also turned the 29-minute pilot into a 19-minute short film starring Portland actor Gilberto Martin del Campo and Vancouver actress Marcella Laasch, who also did voice-over work for “James vs. Reality.”

Brown wrote and directed the film, his first. It’s set in a tango club and is an homage to film noir. Brown filmed in various locations in downtown Vancouver, including Erik Runyan Jewelers, and in Portland.

“Tango Noir” is scheduled to screen at 11 a.m. Saturday at Kiggins.

After several days of screenings, festival awards will be given out at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins. On Aug. 14, the winning films will be screened again, as will the festival’s most widely attended films.

Following the announcement of the winners will be an industry preview screening of “Black Velvet” for the public at 10 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins.

Though created by Los Angeles filmmakers Tim Pape and Ben Hochstein, “Black Velvet” has a Clark County connection.

Pape and Hochstein attended Warren’s 2009 festival in Washougal with their film “Prey for the Island.” While at the event, the two came up with the idea for “Black Velvet,” a “Bonnie and Clyde”-style story about a couple on the run. They were inspired by the cities of Camas and Washougal, and the creative people they met there, Pape said.

Warren is a producer on the 86-minute film, which Pape said he is excited to share with local audiences.

“We wanted to show it to the people who are from the area where we got inspired for the film,” he said.

Mary Ann Albright: 360-735-4507;;;