Image: Screenshot taken from THE OLIVE TREES OF JUSTICE

When Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner won their Oscar in 1975, independent film making in Oregon seemed to be entering a new stage. But the truth is that Oregon already had produced four successful independent filmmakers: James Ivory (b. 1928), James Blue (1930-1980), Harry Smith (1923-1991) and Homer Groening (1919-1996). All four artists emerged a decade before Vinton and Gardiner made their breakthrough film.

Ivory made his cinematic debut from India. Blue made his from Algeria. Smith made his from New York City. Groening remained in Portland, splitting his time between his advertising work and his short art films, which he sent to film festivals around the world.

The Oregon Cartoon Institute project Mid Century Oregon Genius united these four Oregon mid-century film artists under one umbrella. One film is shot in an Algerian war zone. One stars a Hollywood heart throb. One was made on an animation stand which doubled as a bed for the filmmaker. Some are shot underwater.

Funded by grants from Kinsman Foundation and Miller Foundation, Mid Century Oregon Genius  took place Oct. 10 & 11, 2014 and Jan. 16 & 17, 2015 at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon. A grant application to the McGrady Foundation appears to have been unsuccessful, whereas a letter to Portland State University about the rental of Lincoln Hall seems to have been answered positively.

Mid Century Oregon Genius was curated by Anne Richardson. Program drafts are available here (and here for the Harry Smith Free For All), along with a handout for participants. Anne also created a Free Coffee flyer announcing the Saturday symposium, along with a flyer announcing the Harry Smith event, and a poster draft for the Secret Society Screening Series.

The film Heaven and Earth Magic was rented from New American Cinema Group in New York. Anne left a program draft in her personal notes. Apparently, the quality of the print left much to be desired.

James Ivory himself explained in an interview with the Oregonian his choice to screen the film MAURICE.

We located a series of slides from one of the presentations, entitled “Harry Smith, Salmon Nation, Beatnik, formatted into a movie file.

We also found images featuring Tom Shrader, Ted Mahar, Lisa Groening, Bill Plympton, Matt Groening discussing Homer Groening. In preparation for the event, Anne worked with Lisa Groening on a line-up and an alternative line-up of Homer Groening films. A grant report shows the financial dimension of this event.