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Shannon Foster, of Hood River, won best film by a local artist at the fourth annual Parkdale Film Festival.

Homegrown Gorge Film Festival Celebrates Fourth Year, Screens 22 Films

The Cannes Film Festival started this week. It runs through May 28 in case you want to catch it. The big news is the The Da Vinci Code opened the festival. Big names, big money, big yawn. That glittery event sparkling with stars has had 59 years to develop into a front-page event.

The Parkdale Film Festival, by contrast, just finished its fourth year. The films may not be as polished as those on the Rivera, but it’s closer, it’s free, and the film mix just as eclectic and creative. And it’s ours, this Gorge event. On May 6, 200 filled the Mt. Hood Towne Hall to see the top 22 of the 40 films entered.

The festival hits the road to play in The Dalles tomorrow, Saturday, May 20, at Columbia Gorge Community College. The films start at 6 p.m. in the lecture hall of Building 2.

Jess Caudill, 33, started the Parkdale Festival to let local film artists show their work. Said Caudill, “Originally people sent anything in, including videos of people’s vacations.”

He and co-organizer Marc Harvey began allowing outside films to let local filmmakers see what others were doing. “Now they’re presenting something,” he said, “that will be entertaining to an audience, not just their family and friends.”

Caudill, as you would expect, is a microbiologist for Wyeast Laboratories, a company that makes yeast for beer and wine making. He and a small group of volunteers put on the festival. Unlike most film festivals, there’s no charge to filmmakers to enter. Ten of the films were by Gorge-area residents; others came from Hollywood, New York, even Rome.

Voting is by audience ballot, and the viewers chose the film The Leeward Tide by Brett Eichenberger of Beaverton. An old mariner stays near the skeleton of a shipwreck on the beach longing for his sweetheart who went down with it.

10-year-old Logan Carlstrom’s film had a lego man skiing into a tree, capsizing a fishing boat, and losing his ice axe mountain climbing. Baby Pepper by Carl Russo, of San Francisco, parodied an ad for a pepper spray for baby protestors. The audience chose The Day after Yesterday as runner-up. The film by Corey Rathgeber, of Cook, Wash., was a trailer for a Star Wars-type movie he’s making.

In Caudill’s film, Here Come the Robots retail giant Lul-Mart one by one replaces human workers with robots. In The Pit by James Heuberger, of Hood River, a man sits on a hillside discussing the philosophy of murder to another man who digs nearby. Thoughtful and shocking.

My Name is Danny, by Shannon Foster, of Hood River, won best film by a local artist. She won the overall award last year. In the film, twentysomething Danny meets a pregnant girl who’s just arrived in town fleeing an abusive boyfriend. The two become friends with a tragic future. Part-time filmmaker Foster, works fulltime at Rosauers in the natural food section. The 23-year-old has been making films for six years. She wrote, edited, and filmed this year’s film in five months.

So watch out, Cannes: Parkdale’s film festival is the the up-and-comer.

“Every year, the films’ quality get better,” said Caudill, “because more people are learning about the festival; we draw from a wider group.”

About Susan Hess

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