A stellar film line-up for the 2017 Siskiyou FilmFest

film: Namuli

film: Namuli

film: Ace the Desert Dog

film: Ace the Desert Dog

film: Super Salmon

film: Super Salmon

The Siskiyou FilmFest team is excited to announce that the full film line-up for 2017 is now available online! There will be a jam packed 142 minutes of fantastic short films screened at the Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center on Sunday Feb 12th. There will also be time before the films start and during the intermission to check out the tables of community groups in attendance, and eat some delicious food available from Chef Kristen. 

Films at the 2017 Siskiyou FilmFest:

NoWhere (10 min)
The Refuge (15.5 min)
Forget Shorter Showers (11 min)
Speak For The Trees (13 min)
Namuli (24 min)
Kid Warrior (6.3 min)
The Super Salmon (25 min)
Our Land (16 min)
Walking The Wild Applegate (22 min)
Ace And The Desert Dog (9 min)

View more details about the films, and learn more about the issues, on the 'Films' page of the Siskiyou FilmFest website. 

film: Kid Warrior

film: Kid Warrior

film: The Refuge

film: The Refuge

film: Forget Shorter Showers

film: Forget Shorter Showers

Our Land: Traversing Oregon

Guest film review by SFF volunteer Carly Holthaus, AmeriCorp volunteer for Rogue Valley Farm to School

Octave Zangs & Jason Fitzgibbon do a phenomenal and drool-inducing job of presenting our magical Oregonian public lands in their true light. OUR LAND - TRAVERSING OREGON follows the duo dream team as they roam and ramble; surfing on the coast, flyfishing in alpine lakes, and touring forests on mountain bikes. This footage is enough to awaken the playful wild child in all of us, simultaneously filling us with warm-fuzzies for the places we hold dear. Poetic narration notes "towering evergreens plunging down dark rocky cliffs toward the sea and not with another soul as far as the eye could gaze," in combination with beautiful cinematography, masterfully brings goosebumps to viewers. The filmmakers have created a work of art that will incite audiences to love and fight for these endangered paradises. 

The film alludes to the unofficial national anthem by Woody Guthrie, "This Land Is Your Land", and at no better timing than now, with the arrival of a new presidency. Here we are called to reflect on these last tracts of wild and untouched country, hidden pockets of living history that reveal to us an often forgotten lesson. We're charged to preserve, against big business interest and government takeover, the places in our very own backyard that stir our hearts. This film will make you want to get out of your seat, put on a wet-suite and dive into water, or fight for the protection of our lands, or both! Either way, you'll want to make sure that stunning films like this one will continue to be made.

Stand Up, Speak for the Trees: southern Oregon Activism

An interview with local filmmaker Dean Hawn

SFF: We're excited to see an updated version of "Speak for the Trees" at this year's Siskiyou Film Fest.  Can you tell us about how you became involved with this project initially?


DH: It was actually by random chance that I got involved with Speak For The Trees.  I was in Portland having dinner with my friend Matt, who lives in the Little Applegate, and he started telling me about a community effort aimed at stopping an egregious and ultimately illegal logging project that was taking place in his neighborhood.  The timber company in question, Spalding Timber, had violated a number of timber harvest regulations and were forced to halt operations. Turns out the company was illegally siphoning water out of the small, sensitive, local creeks that are home to the rare Siskiyou Salamander and salmon spawning grounds in order to fulfill their dust abatement requirements.  The Jackson County Water Master determined they were violating the rules and the operation shut down.  I found this story really interesting: a group of friends came together to stand up against the destructive saws of industrial logging, and I felt I could use my filmmaking skills to be of service to a friend and ideally help to defend mother earth. I had seen the impact short films have, and the ability they have to raise awareness, and funding.

SFF: Was there a particular moment that inspired you to create a film?

DH: In 2012 I visited the property in the Little Applegate where Spalding had started to log and I was blown away by the devastation.  It looked like a bomb had gone off to me.  Hailing from Tempe, Arizona and then Los Angeles, this was the first time I had stood in a clear cut and it impacted me on a deep level.  And I knew I had to make a film about it, which seemed to be the only way I knew how to help.  I went back to LA , and while digging around a property I was living on and felt gripped by the prospect of helping a defend a hillside in Oregon.  In a dirt pile,  I found an old picture viewer - I think they called it a viewmaster - toy which had circular slides that you could look through and see pictures of your favorite animals and landscapes.  It was a moment when I realized that I had an opportunity to help prevent the Speak for the Trees hillside from turning into the stuff of artifacts.  I wanted the futures pictures of that little applegate hillside to be of a healthy forest instead of a wasteland.

SFF: How would you describe the community involved in forest protection in the Little Applegate valley?

DH: Well, the short version is that the community made me want to live here - and now I do! After living in LA for almost 15 years, I really felt that this beautiful community full of dedicated people here in the Little Applegate,  are like no other.  It was something I didn't find in LA.  There is a different type of connection in Southern Oregon and the people I know here are ready to come out and fight for their backyards. With the Speak for the Trees effort, we had three fundraisers on Yale Creek Road - which were hugely beneficial both financially and for getting feedback on the film.  I am currently working on a new project, with the working title of "The Paper Trail."  I have been developing, researching, and filming for the past two years.   It also addresses logging but takes a wider perspective while continuing to focus on Oregon as its central location.  We are fiscally sponsored through the International Documentary Association and it really nice to have a network of professionals to help us bring this new film to life.

SFF: How do you see your role as a filmmaker in supporting efforts to protect southern Oregon forests today?

DH: I aspire to be a good filmmaker.  I spent a lot of time in edit bays back in LA but found my voice was somewhat silenced working for the studios and wanted more.  I look at filmmaking as a medium through which community efforts can become seen and more widely spread and I hope to continue to meet others who are interested in preserving these amazing places.

SFF: What are you most excited for regarding the upcoming Siskiyou Film Fest?

DH: I really love film festivals and the way they connect people.  With the Siskiyou Film Fest, I am really excited to see other films about local issues and to meet some new people in the area who are into making films.  I am also excited to witness peoples' response to Speak for the Trees.  Audience reaction is the best barometer of what works, and where I can get better.

SFF: What film projects are you most excited about in the near future?

DH: Selfish answer, my film.  I’m working with producer Sheila Laffey who has a long track record of producing environmental films that have sparked change, like Who Bombed Judy Bari?, The Last Stand of the Ballona Wetlands and a long list of others.  She is really good at getting things done and has been a great producer on this project.  Like I said, I have been working on this new film for two years now, to further explore the bigger timber industry problems - so I have been working within my network to fundraise and research and get footage.  As I get deeper into the research, I’m realizing how complex this issue is - the ecology of the forest, the politics, and the social is much more nuanced that I had ever imagined.  I’m determined to create this film because I feel that it is important.  Even if it just affects a few people, there is a multiplier effect which can ripple and ideally, make people question their beliefs.  It's funny how the desire to affect change can completely alter your life and perspective on what is important and how I want to spend my time. 


Renewing the activist outlook: The future is our youth

This is a potent film of an environmental Malala. It focuses on a Native American teenager who has become an outspoken advocate for people respecting and preserving the natural world. He expresses his opposition to the marked degradation that the oil, gas, and timber industries have exacted upon the earth. His younger brother and parents are portrayed as an intensely loyal, media savvy support group. His journey includes plans for a European speaking tour that will incrementally destroy the last vestiges of childhood. This young man is an award recipient from President Barack Obama for his outstanding contributions to youth awareness regarding the preservation of the environment through the powerful integration of Native American dance, song, and prayer.

Walking the Wild Applegate: the vision of the Applegate Trails Association

The Applegate Trails Association (ATA) was created to manifest a vision: the Applegate Ridge Trail (ART). The ATA proposes connecting what is being called the “Jack-Ash” trail to ATA’s proposed Applegate Ridge Trail. This 80-mile trail corridor follows a series of footpaths, old roads, ridgelines and steep mountain slopes across the rugged spine of what early settlers called the 'Front Range.' The ridgeline — a mosaic of forest, prairie, woodland and brush — divides the Rogue and Bear Creek Valleys from the Applegate Valley in southwestern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains. Together the trails will bridge that divide, connecting the communities of the Applegate and Rogue Valleys with a beautiful, non-motorized trail system that defines our region and who we are as a community.

In May, 2016, two ATA board members, Luke Ruediger and Josh Weber, hiked the entire 80 miles from downtown Ashland, Oregon, to Grants Pass, Oregon. Our goal was to turn this thru-hike adventure into a documentary that would raise awareness about the beauty of our region and build support for the creation of our proposed trail system and the benefits it will provide to surrounding communities.

A view from Bald Mountain in the Applegate Valley. Photo courtesy of G. Sexton

A view from Bald Mountain in the Applegate Valley. Photo courtesy of G. Sexton

Our film, “Walking the Wild Applegate,” documents Luke and Josh’s adventure into the stunning beauty and diversity of “wild Applegate,” following their route from Lithia Park in downtown Ashland, over the still snow-covered summit of Wagner Butte, across the arid slopes of Anderson Butte, though the Dakubetede roadless area, to the rugged foothills of the Wellington Wildlands outside Ruch, and finally to the Cathedral Hills trail system south of Grants Pass.

Read more about the Applegate Trails Association


For the love of the Kalmiopsis wild rivers: An interview with local filmmaker Nate Wilson

The beautiful and endangered Rough and Ready Creek, tributary to the Illinois and Rogue Rivers of southwest Oregon. Photo by Nate Wilson

The beautiful and endangered Rough and Ready Creek, tributary to the Illinois and Rogue Rivers of southwest Oregon. Photo by Nate Wilson

The Siskiyou FilmFest is excited to announce that we will be screening Nate Wilson's short film NoWhere at the 2017 festival. NoWhere is a stunning homage to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in Southern Oregon, and a call to defend this stunning wild landscape from the threats posed by nickel strip mining. 

This is the second time Nate has joined us with a Kalmiopsis-inspired film for the Siskiyou FilmFest, with the 2016 festival featuring a screening of his short film Bearfoot about Smith River shuttle driver Brad Camden.

Watch a clip from NoWhere:

  • You are returning to the Siskiyou Film Festival - what makes this festival so special, why would you want to be a part of it twice?!  
The Siskiyou FilmFest really feels like a neighborhood gathering. It's a grassroots event that gives people from all of the communities in the area a chance to catch up with friends, share some stories, and enjoy a celebration of what makes this corner of the world so unique.
I'm really drawn to the Siskiyou FilmFest because of the strong community that shows up to make it happen. Its not just a single event, people are out there all year working to protect this amazing place and its great to briefly come together and share in everyone's positive energy. 
  • What inspired you to make a second film about the south Kalmiopsis?
I think I could make a hundred films about this region and still not feel like I have captured a lot of what's out there. There's a huge variety in the landscape itself and then the opportunity to tell stories about it just grows exponentially with all of the different ways people interact with it. I've made a few films that specifically address the threat of industrial-scale nickel strip mining in the South Kalmiopsis, but even with that topic, there are a few different ways to come at it. Whether it is about the adventures possible here, or members of the community standing up to protect their backyard, I'm excited to continue to share stories from this region. 
I originally got into filmmaking and photography because I was so inspired by the rugged beauty of the Siskiyou's and specifically the Kalmiopsis region. Beyond that, I think that the more people that are introduced to this region, the easier it is build support for keeping it pristine and free from some of the destructive mining proposals we've seen lately. I also think its important for local communities to be able to share their concerns about the potential industrialization of their backyards along with what they hope to see in the region's future.  
  • How do filmmaking and activism come together?
Right now, with the relative cheapness of equipment along with the multiple avenues to publish media, filmmaking is an invaluable tool to raise awareness with the general public about different issues. I think filmmaking for the activist is a huge equalizer when you're going against an opponent that has vastly greater resources. You can go out there and tell a story or make your case in an immersive medium that has the ability to really resonate with people. Most of us don't have money to go lobby congress or pay for highway billboards, but with a camera, computer, and a little time you can really go toe to toe with just about anyone in terms of sharing your message. 
  • Briefly, what is your film "No Where" about?
Nowhere is a film about the rugged heart of a wild place told by the lives that have been shaped by it. It is the story of the hope and heartache of being drawn into a decades long fight to protect backyard wildlands from industrial development, and beyond just the environmental toll, an illustration of personal costs to those that call Southern Oregon’s South Kalmiopsis region home if nickel strip mining proposals move forward.

Visit Nate Wilson's website and Facebook page.

Announcing the 2017 Siskiyou FilmFest!

Join us on Sunday February 12th, 2017 at the Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center for the 15th annual Siskiyou FilmFest! There is still time to submit films for consideration before December 8th, 2016. Please visit the film submissions page for more information.

We are excited to share details of three of the films being screened at the 2017 Siskiyou FilmFest - Speak For The Trees, Kid Warrior, and a Surprise Student Film! Visit the films page for more details.