Tumbleweed Film Festival has ‘Best Fest’ Ever

The Tumbleweed audience enjoys this year’s "Best of  Fest," The Gunfighter, at Alpine Brewery. Gary DeVon/staff photo

The Tumbleweed audience enjoys this year’s “Best of Fest,” The Gunfighter, at Alpine Brewery. Gary DeVon/staff photo

OROVILLE – If the comments in the local restaurants and bars, as well as on social media are to believed, Oroville’s Tumbleweed Film Festival had one of its best years yet.

This unique film festival shows short films from around the world. Now in its fifth year, attracted around 300 viewers over four nights and four venues.

“Watch  Globally, Drink Locally” - audiences could enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvre’s on the patio before show time at Esther  Bricques Winery.  Gary DeVon/staff photo

“Watch Globally, Drink Locally” – audiences could enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvre’s on the patio before show time at Esther Bricques Winery.
Gary DeVon/staff photo

“It is great to see so many new faces and people who are enthusiastic about what we’re doing,” said Maureen “Mo” Fine, who started the festival in 2010 with fellow filmmaker Geoff Klein.

“We really had a fun crowd come out and support each night,” adds Klein “The films are great, but the venues and the audiences really make each night special.”.

For the adults, the festival kicked off with a showing of “Best of Fest” films that won the hearts and votes of Tumbleweed goers at past year’s festivals. This event took place on Wednesday at the courtesy of the two Vickis – Vicki Hinze, who offered a special gathering at the Pastime Bar and Grill Vicki Hart (and Walt too) who offered Vicki’s Back Door Club to show that night’s films.

The second night was Family Night and was offered at half price to kids and adults alike and featured family-friendly offerings with lots of animation.

Sandy Lorentzen, unofficial Tumbleweed Ambassador, talked about how the Oroville High School Auditorium was turned into a movie theater for a night and how many people really enjoyed the experience with one woman telling her that her children had never seen a movie in a theater setting before.

The screen arrives at Alpine after a successful night of movies at Vicki’s Back Door Club. Mo Fine/submitted photo

The screen arrives at Alpine after a successful night of movies at Vicki’s Back Door Club. Mo Fine/submitted photo

On Friday, the Tumbleweed rolled, or should we say the screen was walked, the short distance through town from Vicki’s to Alpine Brewery where it found itself on familiar territory, hanging on the wall of the brew pub, owned by Bart Traubeck, the town’s local brewmaster. The evening featured Traubeck’s German-style beers and festival sponsor Uli’s Sausages’ brauts.

Saturday, the screen took a leisurely pickup ride south of Oroville to Esther Bricques Winery. In addition to providing a cool barrel room to view the movies, winery owners Steve and Linda Colvin paired lots of fine food with their award-winning vintages, as well as music from local talent Sandra Vaughn.

Gunfighter wins ‘Best of Fest’

This year’s “Best of Fest” Audience Award went to The Gunfighter which was shown at Alpine Brewing. The film, from the USA, was directed by Erik Kissak. It’s a hilarious wild west tale of a lone gunslinger who walks into a saloon full of dangerous characters, who can hear his thoughts and are not happy with what they hear.

“People liked some of the movies so much, like the Computers, that they wanted to give them 5 stars on the 1 to 5 scale,” said Lorenzen.

Filmmakers and film festival co-founders Mo Fine and Geoff Klein talk about the  films  about to be shown at Vicki’s Back Door. Gary DeVon/staff photo

Filmmakers and film festival co-founders Mo Fine and Geoff Klein talk about the films about to be shown at Vicki’s Back Door. Gary DeVon/staff photo

This year’s Runner-Ups:

  1. The Computers (USA) Directed by Kate McMahon – An inspiring story of how six gifted young women programmed the first all-electronic digital computer, the ENIAC, as part of a secret WWII project.
  2. About Ndugu (Spain) Director David Munoz – Filmed in Africa, an African boy receives a letter from his American foster father, Mr. Schmidt, who just lost his wife. Ndugu sets out to find a new wife for him.
  3. Strings – (Spain) Directed by Pedro Solis – This heartwarming animation follows a school girl, Maria, whose routine at school is altered by the arrival of a very special child. They soon become close friends.
  4. Mr. Invisible (UK) – Directed by Greg Ash –The day in a life of a lonely, old man, who seems invisible to the world around him. When he journeys to the heart of London, his being “invisible” proves to be his greatest weapon.
  5. In Passing (USA) – Directed by Alan Miller – Two lonely people who jump off a building to end their lives meet on the way down and discover it’s never too late to fall in love.

Best of Last Year’s Best – Penny Dreadful (USA) – Directed by Shane Atkinson – The tale of a kidnapping that goes very wrong. A plot that twists and turns with humorous suspense and an unexpected outcome.

About the Best of Fest at Vicki’s Back Door Club, Fine said, “People cheered at the return of their favorite movies.

“People were coming up to us to talk about some of their favorite films from years before. The films really stick in people’s mines. And that’s pretty cool.”

Penny Dreadful was shown at Vicki’s and made a special encore return to Alpine Brewery.

“The next day people were posting on Facebook quotes from Penny Dreadful,” said Fine.

The future of the Tumbleweed

About the future of the film festival Klein sees an expanding list of venues.

“We had the best showing of film goers this year, so hopefully we can continue to continue to add other venues in Oroville and Tonasket in 2015,” he said. “We’re already starting to plan for next year, so keep your eye out for Tumbleweed 6.”

Next year Tumbleweed is also hoping to continue working with some of the area schools to develop a young filmmaker contest, where some of the best films will be shown each night.

The organizers said they wanted to give special thanks to the venues – Special Thanks to Venues – Vicki’s Back Door, Alpine Brewery, Oroville High School and Esther Bricques and to their sponsors – Kinross Gold, Veranda Beach Resort, Pastime Bar and Grill, the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune (Sound Publishing), Hometown Pizza, Camaray Motel, Oroville Chamber of Commerce and Oroville Mini Storage. The also wanted to thank their “projectionist extaordinaire” Tam Hutchinson who started out running the projector at the high school and volunteered to run it at the next three night’s venues as well.

The Tumbleweed Film Festival is a Washington-based non-profit organization committed to bringing the art of storytelling through filmmaking to the Okanogan and British Columbia. For more details about the annual festival including trailers and venues as well as TwFF’s on-going “Best of Fest” events, visit www.tumbleweedfilmfest.com or the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TumbleweedFilmFestival.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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