For 19 seasons, “Oregon Lens” has showcased the talent and diversity of the Northwest’s independent filmmakers, and this year is no exception. Through their eyes, we explore the beaches of Saipan, the love stories of Oaks Park and the fabric of space and time. We learn what it takes to cure measles, clean up a neighborhood or reinvent yourself. We spend a day in the life of a man with a mistaken identity and a man whose identity is often mistaken. And yes, we even sing a song about a great white shark.
Here’s the lineup of this year’s films:
Monday, Aug. 28
Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time is a Portland-produced feature about a team of time travelers. Sci-fi fans, be on the lookout for a familiar face: Walter Koenig (also known as Chekov from the original Star Trek) stars in the film. Produced by Nic Costa.
In this short from Jen Elkington, an odd, middle-aged man, whose dream of becoming a modern dancer died a painful death, purchases a print of Renee Magritte’s “The Invention of Life.” Upon bringing it home, he begins to receive mysterious epistles from the past as the ghostly, shrouded figure in the painting comes to life and haunts him.
A man gets ready for the day. His routine is familiar, but through the lens of filmmaker Will Cuddy we’re treated to an unexpected twist. When he steps outside in the morning, what do people really see?
If you could travel through time to meet your future self, would you do it? And if so, what would you say? This film from Leslie Bloom explores these questions and the role technology might play in getting us there.
Time travel can be risky business, and things can get even riskier when time travel is your business. In this proof of concept from Martin Vavra, a man shows up for his first day of work at the DOTT: Department of Time Travel.
Tuesday, Aug. 29
If you have kids in your life, you know they love to make noise. That’s where Free Beat Nation, a free drum camp for kids 10-18, comes in. Tadimdia Bridges founded the camp in memory of Derek Rieth, percussionist and longtime member of the Pink Martini Band, who passed away in 2014. Meet the next generation of Portland drummers in this short film from Joanie Fox about the camp and its participants.
Driven by the music of David Lynch and Chrysta Bell, “Bird of Flames” is a meditation on the enigmatic nature of love. In a small nightclub, a magician (Minh Tran) coaxes a beautiful chanteuse (Chrysta Bell) to perform like a living doll. In the audience, a young man falls in love with her archetypal image of feminine beauty. Directed by Chel White.
The songwriting supergroup performed their new album, case/lang/veirs, in its entirety at the OPB studio in Portland. This selection was produced by Dave Christensen.
This documentary from Cassandra Profita tells an unexpected love story in an even more unexpected location: the skating rink at Portland’s Oaks Park.
What are the Marine National Monuments? Where are they? And how hard would it be to write a song about them? The sibling duo behind Sisbro Studios, Laura and Robert Sams, learned the answers to those questions and more in the making of this film.
In this music video about a great white shark (yes, you read that right) a group of raucous sea lions sing a tribute to their old nemesis. This piece also comes to us from Laura and Robert Sams of Sisbro Studios.
In this music video from Justin Townes Earle, love is love no matter who you are. “Maybe a Moment” was written, directed and edited by Alicia J. Rose.
Annette Lowman is a jazz singer and musical storyteller. After nearly two decades performing and recording with international musicians across Europe, she is excited to be finding a new groove in Portland as one-third of the Annette Lowman Trio. Filmmaker Elayna Yussen tells her story.
Isaiah Brown is a singer and songwriter with a message for the world. He teamed up with director Gabriel Morgan for this music video, which was shot in Brown’s hometown of Ashland, Oregon.
Wednesday, Aug. 30
A young island girl dreams of a mysterious haggan, or sea turtle, that sends her on a quest to investigate the sea turtles that nest and swim near her home in Saipan. “My Haggan Dream” is full of gorgeous underwater footage and equally gorgeous turtles. It was produced by Sisbro Studios of Portland.
What is it like to move to a new country as a young person? Producer Noor Alomran explores this idea through the eyes of four Portland artists and immigrants, including a dancer and a stand-up comedian.
In this animated short from Curtis Randolph, a man named Trav has never left his home town. He decides to use his two-week vacation to walk out with nothing but a backpack and see what happens. Does life exist beyond the city limits? The answers are not what he expects.
When Lily and her friend Zelda play dolls one afternoon, a game of make-believe suddenly turns all too real. Filmmaker Anthony Orkin tells this story using a mix of live-action and stop-motion animation with handmade dolls.
In this silent animation, a painter’s apprentice is compelled to paint a mysterious shadow model who will only pose for him from behind a sheet. Directed by Mark Andres.
A retired couple checks into a rental home and runs into two young people in the middle of what looks like a robbery. But who, exactly, are the “Unwelcome Guests” here? Directed by Martin Vavra.
Thursday, Aug. 31
Between 1963 and 1985, the AAU basketball team, sponsored by Claudia’s Tavern, dominated the elite Portland league. What was the secret to their success? Directed by Sonia Halvorson.
What do you call a ghost town that still has people living there? This documentary is a peek into the world of some folks that live in Shaniko, Oregon. A haunted kewpie doll, a boot fence, dream cowboys, custom caskets and stories of healing are all there in the Dreamworld. Directed by Jen Elkington.
This film blends techniques of animation, documentary and surrealism to craft mesmerizing moving pictures that emphasize the rhythms and abstract patterns found in the Painted Hills of Oregon. From Kurtis Hough.
When news broke about a new study into Portland’s air quality, residents were shocked to learn that their city may not be as environmentally friendly as they assumed. Concerned by a report of an apparent lead contamination in their own neighborhood, student producers Zach Putnam, Richard Percy and David MacKay teamed with the local community to investigate possible causes and implications.
Pastor Adam Phillips was one of the young, emerging leaders of his church until he expressed openness to welcoming LGBTQ members. This short documentary by Zach Putnam and David MacKay charts the fall and rebirth of Phillips’s church in Portland.
Friday, Sep. 1
In this short, director Madoka Raine spends a day in the life of a man with cerebral palsy. The film stars Rich Hinz, who Oregon Lens fans might recognize from his role in “The Mobile Stripper.”
This animated film addresses the subject of prejudice and perception, and how bias can be passed through generations in a family. It’s the story of a well-intentioned parent who has to question the beliefs he has been taught, and what he is teaching his own child. Directed by Jerold Howard.
It’s an unfortunate day for Jerry, the pushover. When assassins mistake him for a spy, it’s a race against the clock to disarm the bomb … that’s handcuffed to his arm. Director Jeff Goldstein made this film as part of the Portland 48 Hour Film Project.
At the Miao Fa Temple in Portland, Buddhist volunteers prepare a feast every week to honor Buddha, their deceased loved ones and their belief that good will and sharing is one of the highest virtues. After presenting the food to their statues of Buddha, chanting, and praying over the dishes, the volunteers serve the vegetarian meal to the temple’s parishioners. Filmmaker Winnie Huang documents the event in “Buddhist Temple Worship Lunch.”
There are people who like games, and then there are gamers. Patrick Rollens is definitely the latter. This film from Video Dads producers Travis Gilmour and Slavik Boyechko goes behind the scenes of Patrick’s life to explore his love of “TTG”s.
A child knows the sound of his own father’s voice … right? This short from Martin Vavra explores what might happen if a loving father/son relationship took a turn for the creepy.
Looking back on a relationship gone wrong, a young man finds himself questioning if he should have fallen in love in the first place. Directed by Will Cuddy.