A film festival to savor

Portion of proceeds from screenings of food-focused movies will benefit Camas Farmers Market

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



If you go

What: Liberty Theatre Food Film Festival

Where: 315 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas

When: Friday through Thursday, Sept. 23-29

Cost: $3.50 admission per film; a portion of the profits will be donated to the Camas Farmer’s Market

Information: Call 360-859-9555 or visit http://www.camasl...

Film start times

• “Happy”: 5:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

“The Trip”: 7:30 p.m. Friday through Tuesday; 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“Ingredients”: 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

“Farmageddon”: 8 p.m. Wednesday; 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

You can learn a lot about a community by studying the variety and quality of its foods.

And at the heart of any Pacific Northwest town with a strong sense of itself, you’ll almost always find a connection to those foods through a thriving farmers market.

“Farmers markets are an amazing spectacle,” said Brian Kimmel, producer of the film “Ingredients.” “They’re a gateway drug to the local food scene.”

For the next week, Kimmel’s work will be shown with three other films in a special film festival to benefit the Camas Farmer’s Market.

While most of Kimmel’s project was shot in and around Portland, he said the topics he investigates are no less relevant to those of us who live in Clark County.

“I’m happy that the film is actually going across the river,” Kimmel said. “I think it’s really great that our work has had a positive impact on people, and that it can help the community of Camas.”

Rand Thornsley, who’s been rebuilding the Camas Liberty Theatre, got the idea to create a food-related film festival at his theater after working on a similar production in Anchorage, Alaska. Thornsley lived in that city for many years before moving to Clark County to take over the Camas theater this past February.

“These are films that aren’t usually shown at the Liberty,” Thornsley said of the food film festival. “We wanted to go beyond the mainstream for this, and really try to be a supportive part of the community by focusing on the local food scene and helping to raise money for the Camas Farmer’s Market.”

The Camas market was hit hard by the bad economy and unusually cold weather this summer. The goal is to raise $25,000 in donations so that it can continue to operate in 2012 without major cutbacks.

Thornsley said the Liberty, which reopened in March after standing empty for about a year and a half, will donate 50 cents from each of the first 200 tickets sold for the festival and $1 from each ticket after that to support the market.

“The Liberty is the centerpiece of Camas downtown,” Thornsley said. “When I first saw it after coming for a visit from Anchorage, I just fell in love with it. I think it has an important role to play in the community.”

The festival will include screenings of “Ingredients,” “Farmageddon,” “The Trip” and “Happy.”

“Ingredients,” a 2009 documentary directed by Robert Bates, is an investigation into sustainable food systems and a look at the farmers and chefs who support them.

It was filmed in Oregon, New York, Ohio and California, but Kimmel was quick to note that of all the cities, the Portland area seems to be the most advanced when it comes to local food.

“Portland is unique,” Kimmel said. “It’s a little further ahead of the rest of the country in terms of the whole food system.”

“Farmageddon,” a 2011 documentary filmed in California, explores difficulties faced by small family farms as they face off against large government bureaucracies.

“It looks at the scope of how the government is treating small farmers and trying to force consumers to go to mainstream sources like big grocery stores for their food,” Thornsley said.

“Happy,” a 2010 documentary directed by Roko Belic, isn’t actually a film about food, but it explores the world’s appetite for happiness. In it, the director travels the globe from the U.S. to Namibia to Brazil to Japan to tell the tales of people who best illustrate how to live a happy life.

“It’s a fast-paced, uplifting documentary,” Thornsley said.

“The Trip,” a 2010 British comedy directed by Michael Winterbottom, is the story of a food writer who has to travel through northern England on a restaurant review trip with a male friend after his girlfriend refuses to join him.

“It’s a lot of laughs,” Thornsley said.

During the weeklong festival, it’s possible that the theater could sell up to 4,000 tickets. But late summer and early fall are generally a slow time in the movie business, so more realistically Thornsley said he’s hoping to sell somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 tickets.

“If we could pack them in, it would really help the farmers market,” he added.