OFF in the Press
All for Immediate Release
Nancy Sojka, board president (firstname.lastname@example.org; 563/419-1828)
Oneota Film Festival adds ‘Lost Rivers’ to its 2015 lineup
Expert panel to discuss project involving Decorah’s Dry Run Creek
(DECORAH, Iowa, Jan. 29, 2015) – Myriad rivers once flowed through nearly every industrialized city worldwide. Houses peppered their banks. Roads hugged their curves. And mills and factories thrived on their currents. But as these cities grew, so too did the pollution of their rivers. Waters that once sustained life became breeding grounds for cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, and other potentially deadly diseases. And municipalities, desperate to stem the tide of disease, buried their once-revered rivers underground. There, merged with sewer networks, they remained hidden for centuries.
But not forgotten.
“Lost Rivers”—one of 50 films on tap for the Sixth Annual Oneota Film Festival—examines the rich history of these lost urban waterways. Director Caroline Bâcle takes viewers along as skilled subterranean explorers (or “drainers”), armed with archival maps and the sturdiest of waterproof boots, scour the Petite Rivière St-Pierre in Montreal, the Garrison Creek in Toronto, the River Tyburn in London, the Saw Mill River in New York, the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, and the Bova-Celato River in Bresica, Italy.
What are the costs of making these and other buried waterways more accessible the public? And what are the benefits, aesthetic and otherwise? “Lost Rivers” shows what it took for Seoul, Korea, to unearth the long-hidden Cheonggyecheon River—and why, Yonkers, New York, committed itself to “daylighting” the Saw Mill River, buried beneath the city’s downtown for nearly a century. It also explores how environmental forces have forced planners in London and Toronto to rethink the way they manage their rivers in light of frequent flooding and sewer overflows.
“This isn’t a political film—it’s a film about human stories, about the evolution of our way of perceiving our built environment, about our disconnection with the natural world that has occurred along the way,” says Bâcle. “My hope is that this film will ignite discussions and inspire us to look at our cities in a different light.”
Join the discussion—and explore Decorah’s own ‘lost river’
Oneota Film Festival attendees will have the opportunity to discuss “Lost Rivers” and learn about an ambitious project involving Decorah’s Dry Run Creek during a panel presentation immediately following the film’s screening on Saturday morning, March 7. Located just southwest of the city, Dry Run Creek is a 20,000-plus-acre subwatershed of the Upper Iowa River basin.
“We will discuss our project, the condition of Dry Run Creek, and the opportunities for improving the creek following the example of cities in the film,” says Bailee McClellan, one of three University of Iowa graduate students currently conducting a study of Decorah’s stormwater management practices in partnership with the city and the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. Joining McClellan on the four-person panel will be fellow University of Iowa graduate student Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz; Chad Bird, Decorah city administrator; and Jodi Enos-Berlage, Luther College professor of biology.
A creek walk will also take place after the panel presentation. “We want to take interested community members out to walk in Dry Run Creek, through the culverts under Decorah, to see firsthand how the stream flows right through the heart of the city,” says McClellan.
The “Sustainable Stormwater Management Study for Decorah, Iowa” project being conducted by McClellan, Fixmer-Oraiz, and Elizabeth Minor aims to recommend strategies for the integrated planning of stormwater management in the city. Since August 2014, the trio has been mapping Decorah’s current infrastructure, learning about the flow of water in the city, pinpointing where problem areas lie, and devising a plan that helps to solve those problems, as well as a way to fund the solutions.
“We are also very interested in helping make Dry Run Creek more of an amenity to the city,” says McClellan.“Dry Run Creek has long been covered and forgotten, much like the waterways shown in ‘Lost Rivers,’ and we hope our project will help bring light, literally and figuratively, to it once again.”
The 2015 Oneota Film Festival will be held March 6–8 on the Luther College campus and downtown Decorah. Attendance at all festival films is free of charge. Since its 2010 inception, OFF (www.oneotafilmfestival.org) has brought together hundreds of film enthusiasts in scenic Northeast Iowa to enjoy award-winning films, converse with filmmakers, and celebrate film as a way to engage and explore some of the most critical issues facing our communities. The festival operates as a nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of the Driftless Art Collective (DARTCO). DARTCO empowers the community to foster partnerships that create stronger art-related events, cultural activities, and educational opportunities.
A “drainer” (or subterranean explorer) wades through a tunnel in this
still from the film “Lost Rivers,” to be shown at the Oneota Film Festival
March 7. (Photo: Andrew Emond, courtesy Icarus Films)
Oneota Film Festival to screen award-winning ‘Trash Dance’
Garbage trucks ‘dance’ in acclaimed documentary
(DECORAH, Iowa, Jan. 13, 2015) – Rain falls. Music plays. And a solitary trash collector strides onto an abandoned airport tarmac, black garbage bag and long litter stick in hand.
Thus begins the affecting, award-winning documentary “Trash Dance,” part of an eclectic array of films on tap for the Sixth-Annual Oneota Film Festival, to be held March 6–8 on the Luther College campus.
Directed by Andrew Garrison, the film follows refreshingly inquisitive choreographer Allison Orr as she spends several months working alongside sanitation workers in her hometown of Austin, Texas. Her goal for the city-funded “Trash Project”? To listen to and learn about these hardworking city employees—and, yes, ultimately convince 24 of them to collaborate on a unique modern dance production designed around the rhythmic, elegant movements they perform each day on the job.
As the performance takes shape, the workers open up, and their candid interviews depict not only the personal hardship in their lives but also deep pride in their work. “We aren’t just dirty people who pick up garbage,” says one of those workers, crane operator Don Anderson. “There is a skill and grace to what we do—we are professionals.”
Released in early 2013, “Trash Dance” garnered immediate critical acclaim, nabbing a special jury prize at its world premiere, Austin’s South by Southwest festival. Other accolades followed, with the “Washington Post” calling the film “a powerful ode to resilience, humor, professionalism, and human dignity” and the “New York Times” deeming it “a warm thank you to those whose work is mostly invisible and entirely necessary.”
Since its 2010 inception, OFF (www.oneotafilmfestival.org) has brought together hundreds of film enthusiasts in scenic Northeast Iowa to enjoy award-winning films, converse with filmmakers, and celebrate film as a way to engage and explore some of the most critical issues facing our communities. The festival operates as a nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of the Driftless Art Collective (DARTCO). DARTCO empowers the community to foster partnerships that create stronger art-related events, cultural activities, and educational opportunities.
Austin (Texas) Department of Solid Waste Services
employees premiere “The Trash Project” in 2009;
photo courtesy of Andrew Garrison.
Oneota Film Festival awarded
$3,350 Iowa Arts Council Grant
Tiny Circus, North Winneshiek students, and Winneshiek County Recycling to make animated film about recycling
(DECORAH, Iowa, Dec. 16, 2014) – The Tiny Circus is coming to Decorah, thanks to an Iowa Arts Council (IAC) grant and matching funds provided by Winneshiek County Recycling.
According to Nancy Sojka, Oneota Film Festival (OFF) board president, the festival has received a $3,350 IAC grant to bring the Tiny Circus stop-action animation team to Decorah to work with local eighth-graders and Winneshiek County Recycling clients and customers on an animated short film about recycling. The film will premiere at the Sixth-Annual Oneota Film Festival, to be held March 6–8 on the Luther College campus in Decorah.
“Most children and adults love watching animated films, but how often do they get to take part in the creation of one?” says Sojka. “The generous support of the Iowa Arts Council and Winneshiek County Recycling will allow a cross-generational group of local residents to do just that while exploring the issue of recycling.”
Based in Grinnell, Iowa, Tiny Circus (www.tinycircus.org) creates meaningful, engaging films through stop-motion animation—each film frame is shot as a photograph, with the characters manipulated by hand before another photograph is taken. To date the organization has involved more than 1,000 people in workshops held at schools, film festivals, museums, and other venues.
Tiny Circus staff will travel to Decorah in January to help North Winneshiek Community School District eighth-graders and Winneshiek Recycling Center clients and customers conceptualize the film, which will be available to the public through the Tiny Circus and the OFF websites following its OFF premiere.
“One of our priorities this year is to include films that will appeal to families,” says Sojka, noting that OFF is seeking additional matching funds from individuals and businesses in support of the Tiny Circus project. “What better way to attract families than to screen a fun, animated film made in cooperation with local residents of all ages.”
Since its 2010 inception, OFF (www.oneotafilmfestival.org) has brought together hundreds of film enthusiasts in scenic Northeast Iowa to enjoy award-winning films, converse with filmmakers, and celebrate film as a way to engage and explore some of the most critical issues facing our communities. The festival operates as a nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of the Driftless Art Collective.
Walt was a major supporter and inspiration for this film festival, and a number of his friends have expressed a desire to donate to a memorial endowment fund that would continue Walter's past support of the filmmaker's reception, and, in addition to that, name the Best of Fest Awards after Walter: The Walter Ordway Best of Fest Awards.
Find out more and donate HERE.
Walter Ordway Memorial Fund Established
Call for Entries Made to Filmmakers
The Oneota Film Festival (OFF) has opened and is encouraging all filmmakers to submit films for consideration for the 2015 Festival. Submissions are part of a juried selection process that results in a “Best of Fest” Award of $500, and a Best Student award of $100. Submissions are open now and will remain open until January 5, 2015. Complete information and submission guidelines are on the OFF website at oneotafilmfestival.org.
OFF accepts submissions of relevant short and feature length documentaries which meet their Mission. That mission is: “Through film, discussion, and other media to engage a large and diverse audience in the critical issues of our time.” This film festival specifically focuses on “sustainability” topics, including environmental, food, adventure & eco travel. The festival is especially oriented toward locally focused films.
The Oneota Film Festival is in it's sixth year. Hosted by Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and sponsored by the Oneota Community Food Coop and The Depot Outlet, in addition to a number of other local businesses and organizations. Significant support is also provided by members and donors.
First Films are Chosen!
The first films chosen for the Oneota Film Festival 2015 have been announced, and the tradition continues of award-winning films that would otherwise never be seen in Decorah, IA. Short summaries of all of the films can be read on the website at oneotafilmfestival.org > selected films.
One of the first is Cave Digger, a film about the artist who calls them his wilderness shrines -- massive in scale, poetic in their design. If his work takes your breath away, that's just what he hoped it would do. Find out more about CAVE DIGGER and see the trailer HERE.
Another sure hit with OFF audiences will be Nobody's River, the story of an expedition along the Amur River. Over 70 days, from Mongolia to Russia, and traveling 5,000 kilometers along a wild, free-flowing river, the team documented the adventures of this incredible journey. Find out more and see the trailer HERE. This may be partnered with a local film and river project, as Decorah has a hidden river running right under the center of town.
Adventure film fans are going to be glued to their seats during El Sendero Luminoso. On January 15, 2014, Alex Honnold free-soloed El Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path) in El Portrero Chico, Mexico in a little over 3 hours. The climb rises 2,500 feet to the summit of El Toro. It could be the most difficult rope-less climb in history. Find out more and see the trailer HERE.
And the content team is just getting started with selections for OFF 15. A reminder that film submissions are open until January 5, 2015. Filmmakers are encouraged to go to the OFF website at oneotafilmfestival.org for more information or to submit their film online.