The Tumbleweed Film Festival experience

Taking a selfie at Alpine  Brewery just before showtime at the fifth  annual Tumbleweed Film Festival. "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 us each night,” adds Klein “The films are great, but the venues and the audiences really make each night special."

Taking a selfie at Alpine Brewery just before showtime at the fifth annual Tumbleweed Film Festival.
“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.”

The Tumbleweed Film Festival continues to expand in Oroville and this year appeared for the first time at four venues over four days. It takes a lot of work for the event’s co-founders, Mo Fine and Geoff Klein, to put on each year, but to them it’s a “labor of love.”

Editorial Gary MugThe Seattle filmmakers have been coming to the Okanogan, particularly Oroville, for a number of years. Klein, is a friend of mine from college and I met Mo through him and became friends with her as well. They wanted to offer an event for the short format film. They realized how hard it was to find venues for filmmakers and that the competition to get your film in one of the bigger festivals can be fierce, as well as expensive.

So in 2010 they combined their love of short films with their love of the Okanogan and began the Tumbleweed Film Festival. For venues they decided to showcase the area’s burgeoning wine industry as well as Oroville’s own brewery, by holding the festival at Alpine Brewery and Esther Bricques Winery. With “Drink Locally, Watch Globally” as their motto, the Tumbleweed, as they are fond of saying, “rolled into town.”

Over the years the festival expanded to three nights and added venues like Veranda Beach Resort and the Pastime Bar & Grill. This year it added Vicki’s Back Door Club and the Oroville High School commons, as well as their premier locations at the winery and the brewery. I think they may have struck on just the right combination this year, with Vicki’s having a “Best of Fest” lineup following a special event at the Pastime and the school venue featuring family-friendly films, mostly animation, at a family-friendly price.

The school event is one we need to work on a bit; all the kids and parents that attended indicated they liked the films and hopefully word will get out and more will attend next year.

It was close to being sold out at Bart’s brewery and at Steve and Linda’s winery. We could have squeezed in a few more at both, but not a whole lot.

The numbers were good overall, with a count of 224 for all four venues. Many of the attendees were from Oroville and Okanogan County but they came from Canada and the Spokane and Seattle areas, as well. While two attendees, including another of my college friends, travelled all the way from Omaha, Nebraska – April Chappulcu and her son, visiting from Istanbul, Turkey, definitely took the prize and added to the international flavor that Tumbleweed promotes.

Geoff and Mo hope to work further with the school and connected with Tam Hutchinson, who volunteered as our projectionist not only at the commons, but for all four events. Tam even saw a few films he might be able to work into some of his classes.

The festival takes a lot of work that most of us don’t see, such as screening the films and maintaining a website, as well as dozens of little things. In addition to our gracious hosts – Linda, Steve, Bart, Vicki, and the high school, there are some great volunteers that have helped set up over the years. And, in addition to that the festival has some outstanding sponsors who help to defray some of the costs. Who would have thought “a labor of love” could be so costly?

Our audiences are great and deserve a big hand. I declare the Tumbleweed a success. If you missed it this year, you missed out on some of the funniest and most thought-provoking films you’ll ever see. Why not plan now to attend one or more of the venues next year… I know you’ll be glad you did.

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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