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Screening: Visual Studies: 16mm Orphan Film from Oregon’s Classrooms

November 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


In October 2011 Indiana University in Bloomington acquired over twelve-thousand 16mm film prints from the state of Oregon. From sheep shearing and venereal disease to the finer points of how to tie-dye these films spanned over sixty years of audio-visual education in Oregon. What value do these films hold for audiences in 2015? Why did they end up at a major (out of state) university film archive? These questions and more will be tackled as we bring some of these films back to Oregon for their first public screenings in decades.

Many of the films from this program depict the agriculture and natural landscape of Oregon. Instead of being produced by established educational film production companies, they were made by individuals or film centers at local universities. Perhaps unexpectedly, the films Fumigating Strawberry Fields and Potato Production in Oregon are as entertaining as they were informative to farmers in the 1960s and 1970s. Being made locally for local audiences makes fascinating time capsules such as the women cracking open crabs in Dungeness Crab Meat Extraction or the loggers in Oregon Industry: Logging Douglas Fir. The very ground itself of Oregon is the focus of two films on rocks, including Rockhounds by cult filmmaker Theo V. Mikels, follows rock collectors as they go on rock hunting trips across Oregon.

In others, Oregon is either the explicit subject of the film or merely a backdrop for its main actions. Celebrate Eugene is a promotional film meant to boost local tourism. Fireworks is a short documentary following a pyrotechnic artist as he plans and performs the Portland July 4th fireworks celebration.

The films that do not focus on Oregon, but which were shown to local school children, show just how bizarre educational filmmaking could be. In Milk in the Computer Age the up-to-date digital technologies used in the milking industry convinces a student that dairy is cool even though at first she’d rather be learning how to code. V.D.: Play it Safe uses zany humor to inform sexually active young people about the dangers of venereal diseases. If you never knew that frisbee was a competitive sport, Floating Free will fill in that gap with footage from a full-day of frisbee activities at the Rose Bowl. And Dead Is Dead takes the anti-drug genre to its limit with a brutal and unsettling look at the darker side of addiction; not for the faint of heart.

Organized by Matthew Cowan, Archivist, Moving Image and Photography Collection, Oregon Historical Society.

Made possible with the generous support of the Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Film and the Oregon Cultural Trust.


November 14, 2015
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Newspace Center for Photography
1632 SE 10th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214 United States
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