OROVILLE – The Tumbleweed Film Festival rolled into Oroville last week and over 250 people enjoyed films from around the world, including one from a filmmaker from Omak.
The overall winner of this year’s festival was “North Atlantic,” a dramatic short film from Portugal by Bernardo Nascimento.
“I think it went well beyond our expectations,” said Geoff Klein, who with fellow Seattle filmmaker Mo Fine, founded the Tumbleweed Film Festival in Oroville last year. Since that time the festival has grown to include smaller “Best of Fests” held in the Tri-Cities and Omak, with another Best of Fest planned for Sept. 22 to 24 in Osoyoos, B.C. at the Desert Cultural Center at NK’MIP Resort.
“I think it went great… it was really successful,” said Fine, who said the numbers of festival-goers nearly doubled from last year.
“The people really liked the films a lot, they were really entertained. We had three very different nights with three very different crowds,” she adds.
While the festival was only two days and at two locations last year, this year there were three venues — Veranda Beach Resort on Thursday, Alpine Brewery on Friday and Esther Bricques Winery on Saturday. Klein said the Veranda Beach showing, which harkened back to the days of drive-in theaters because of its outdoor screen, was a pleasant surprise as 70 people came to see the family-friendly films at the lakefront resort.
“You saw lots of kids watching while mom sat watching from the lawn chair near the pool,” added Fine.
Taking the top two spots by getting the most votes at Veranda Beach were “Amazonia,” an animated film from the U.S. and “The Little Boy and the Ball” from Trinidad and Tobago.
The evening of movies at Veranda Beach was proceeded by a wine and beer tasting and barbecue on the deck. Five Oroville wineries — Veranda Beach, Copper Mountain, Lake Crest and Esther Bricques offered samples of their wines, while Alpine Brewery offered tastings of two of its German-style beers.
The next night the festival travelled downtown to Alpine’s Brewery’s pub. Many people arrived early to socialize over a beer or one of the local wines being offered by Alpine owner and brewmaster Bart Traubeck.
Taking first place and second place at Alpine were “Cataplexy, a film from U.S. filmmaker John Salcido and “Prayers for Peace,” a powerful animated film about U.S. filmmaker Dustin Grella’s loss of his brother in Iraq. The night also featured films from Spain, Peru, Canada and France.
Timothy Watkins, another Seattle filmmaker and winner of last year’s Best of Fest, with “Dishonesty” was on hand to answer questions about his offering this year, “Photo Booth.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the festival was the turnout for the showing at Esther Bricques Winery south of Oroville. About 100 people packed the winery to watch films from the U.S., Spain, Portugal, Ireland, France and England.
Winner of the evening, was the winner of the overall festival with the most total votes, “North Atlantic. The movie was about a small aircraft pilot who was low on fuel and knew he wasn’t going to make it without ditching in the Atlantic and his conversation with the lone aircraft controller on duty that night. The film getting the second most votes was “Library of Dust” about the thousands of cremanes in copper cans stacked on shelves at the old Oregon State Mental Hospital and the quest to reunite the deceased with their families.
Sharing her experiences as a filmmaker was Phoebe Webb from Omak. Her film that night was “You Might Need it Someday” about her grandmother and the many items, including 17 handsaws, that she had collected in her Iowa farmhouse.
Prior to the showing of the films, the winery offered tastings and the music of Jazz Operation for film-goers to enjoy.
The filmmakers promise to bring the festival back to Oroville again next year and to keep expanding it. The movies voted as the Best of Fest are shown at the smaller venues, along with new movies that have been submitted to the festival. See www.tumbleweedfilmfest.com for more information on the festival and to follow the Tumbleweed’s Best of Fests.