Governor’s Film Award Recap

(This article is shared by the author, our good friend Josh Leake at Portland Film Festival. For more about Josh, see his bio at the end of his article)

Cheryl Strayed

Bestselling Portland author, Cheryl Strayed (Wild), courtesy of KGW

The Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television, more commonly known as Oregon Film, hosted its annual film awards on Tuesday, January 6th. Hosted in a trendy Portland office space amid construction on three sides, the event resembled a who’s who of the Oregon film industry, with politicians including Mayor Charlie Hales and several accomplished writers sprinkled in.

Grimm regular and self-proclaimed “Portland resident” Russell Hornsby opened the evening with a bit of celebrity star power. He related how much he appreciated the beauty of the state of Oregon and especially the city of Portland. His final reminder was important: that without the state’s film incentives, Grimm would likely film in another state and just make the location look like Portland. Hornsby introduced Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.

Speaking to an enthusiastic audience, Kitzhaber announced several job creation and tourism accomplishments that were achieved in part by his support of the Oregon film industry. Earlier on Tuesday, Kitzhaber had a busy day at the Oregon Leaders Conference, lauding education goals, job creation and other projects. Yet he really seemed to enjoy celebrating and supporting film in Oregon at the awards ceremony. Kitzhaber introduced and awarded the ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM SERVICE to the Chairman of Oregon Film’s Board of Directors, Gordon Sondland. Kitzhaber said, “Gordon would fly down to LA to get things done, even on his own dime.”

Kitzhaber also heralded Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” project as a prime vehicle to promote Oregon. “Wild,” the story of Strayed’s travels on the Pacific Crest Trail, has taken the state captive with the movie version’s star power of Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. Strayed gave awards to several state park workers to celebrate their participation in the project’s filming. Strayed shared a personal note about the first day of filming. The production was scheduled to shoot on location at Crater Lake National Park, but it was locked because of a federal shutdown. What a nightmare, Strayed recalled, of having your first shoot day locked out. According to Strayed, Governor Kitzhaber was willing to drive down with bolt cutters to open up the park so the project could film. Fortunately, it never needed to take place, and the film crew found another location to work. Strayed also read a letter from Senator Ron Wyden’s office about his support of the film.

Another big winner from the evening was Clackamas Community College Digital Film Director Andy Mingo. He’s shown, what former director of Oregon Film Vince Porter said, “more than I could have ever expected from a community college, let alone a university.” Andy’s shepherding of film and technology landed him the Governor’s award for INNOVATION IN EDUCATION. Famed writer and wife of Mingo, Lidia Yuknavitch was there in support with legend Chuck Palahniuk.
After the awards, there were updates from the four corners of Oregon and their respective film offices and film festivals, including BendFilm, the Eastern Oregon Film Festival, Mid-Oregon Production Arts Network (MOPAN) and Southern Oregon Film and Media.

The awards ceremony went long, and a planned update from Lana Veenker from Cast Iron Studios was cut short. All told, Executive Director of Oregon Film Tim Williams hosted a fun, enjoyable event and showed that he’s bringing some film savvy to the position and Oregon.


Josh Leake, Executive Director Portland Film Festival

Josh Leake, Executive Director Portland Film Festival

Portland-based producer and director Josh Leake is the founder and executive director of the Portland Film Festival, named one of the world’s “coolest” film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine. He produced “Glena,” a feature length documentary that premiered at Slamdance ’14 (now available on Showtime and VOD). His film, “Emptys,” a documentary about people who collect beverage containers as their principal source of income, won first place at Tropfest New York, the world’s largest short film festival. He’s currently in development on several projects including: “Footsteps” about a woman pioneer and “Breathless,” about an incurable disease ravaging the world, as well as a feature narrative adapted from a NY Times best-selling book. Follow him on Twitter @joshleake and @portlandfilm or