Archive | Documentary RSS feed for this section

Luther Cressman’s Fieldwork Footage (c1938)

9 Dec

Luther S. Cressman (1897-1994) was an anthropology professor at the University of Oregon whose discoveries in eastern Oregon changed many of the long-held beliefs about human civilization in North America. He is best known for his discovery of the 10,000-year-old sagebrush bark sandals at Fort Rock in 1938, aka “the world’s oldest surviving shoes.” We recently digitized the films of his excavations in Fort Rock Cave and Paisley Cave in 1938-39. You can see him uncover a pair of children’s sandals at 04:52.

Advertisements

“The New Willamette” (1974)

28 Jul

“Here in Oregon we listen to water all the time.”

umbrella

Homer Groening (1919-1996) was an ad man, cartoonist, and industrial filmmaker in Portland, Oregon (also father to Matt, creator of The Simpsons). The Army Corps of Engineers sponsored Groening’s 1974 film The New Willamette, which looks at environmental clean-up efforts on the mighty Willamette River.

mcall

Oregon Governor Tom McCall (1967-1975)

The film features environmentalist Governor Tom McCall, who led multiple efforts to protect Oregon beaches, waterways, and forests. He famously encouraged people to visit Oregon, “but for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.”

The film won the Golden Eagle Award for outstanding non-theatrical films in the United States in 1975, and the U.S. Information Agency entered it in several international film festivals.

boat

Fisherman Jim Conway

Thanks to an inquiry from a retired Lane County teacher who used to show the film to her students, I was able to track down what is likely the sole surviving print, which resides in the Indiana University Libraries Film Archive. The staff graciously digitized it and put it online.

Skip Elsheimer of A/V Geeks has compiled a Homer Groening filmography.

The Exploding Whale on Film

1 Nov

In 1970 a 45-foot sperm whale washed ashore on the Oregon coast. It became pretty stinky as it started to decompose, so the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), which had jurisdiction over the beaches at that time, decided on a foolproof way to remove the whale: by blowing it up. Fifty pounds of dynamite later, rancid whale chunks were scattered over more than a quarter mile around the blast site, along with some smashed cars and bruised bystanders.

the_whale_ccthe_whale_cc2the_whale_cc3

The ODOT engineer who masterminded this plan died this week, so the story was in the news again. TV news stations recorded the event, but I prefer the film shot by a local man who was a young, independent filmmaker at the time, and who grew up in the Oregon landscape. He was very attuned to the growing urgency of environmental problems, and he explored these issues in a number of films, including Natural Timber Country and Tamanawis Illahee: Rituals and Acts in a Landscape.

Tamanawis Illahee (1983)

9 Jun
Director  Ron Finne
Producer  Ron Finne
Contributors Consultant in history, Edwin Bingham; Consultant in literature, Glen A. LoveCast: Robert Barton

Includes readings by William Stafford, Don Berry and others

Includes George Venn’s poem, “Directions for Visitors” among many others

Length 60 min
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:  N/A
Call # Mc299
Genre  Documentary
Rare  YES
Online  NO
Copyright status  Public Domain
Physical condition  Good
Oregon-related  YES

Notes:

A film of the Pacific Northwest, the native people, poetry, history and the forces of change.  This was an homage to the Indian heritage of the Pacific Northwest and a study in the contrast of how native people used the land, as opposed to European settlers who gradually took it over.

It is experimental in style, combining time-lapse photography, archive footage, classic photographs by documentarist Edward Curtis, museum artifacts and other image sources. The poetry read throughout the film explores the ways in which literature might encourage a sacred appreciation of landscape.

This film was made possible in part by a grant from the Oregon Committee for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ron Finne is an Oregon native and independent filmmaker.  In our archives at the University of Oregon we also own his films, The Whale and Natural Timber Country.

Undermining the Great Depression: backyard gold in Jacksonville, Oregon (1980)

7 Jun
Director Jim Likowski [i.e. James B. Likowski] and Bonnie Thompson
Producer Rainlight Films (Milwaukie, OR)
Contributors Music by David J. Duncan
Length 25 min
B&W/Color Color
UO Library Catalog description: Five Jacksonville, Or., “oldtimers” offer an oral history of their small town’s unique life-style during the Depression, when jobless townspeople mined for gold in their backyards and beneath houses and streets
Call # Mc313
Genre  Documentary
Rare  YES
Online  NO
Copyright status  Copyrighted
Physical condition  Good
Oregon-related  YES

Notes:

While researching Rainlight Films I found that they produced a film for Forest Grove Community Hospital called Shared Labor about childbirth which was also made in 1980.  There is another film on WorldCat listed as being made by Rainlight Films, Sophie’s Search For a Cure, but it was made in 2007 and in Coloma, CA which lead me to think that it is a different production company under the same name.  I ended up cross-searching the creator’s, Jim Likowski, name and the production company.  I found a company profile on a professional networking website and found that it is the same Jim Likowski from this film.  So we can assume Rainlight Films moved to California at some point during the past two decades. Rainlight Films now offers services such as Sheet Film Development, Online Film Development, Feature Film Development, Cheap Film Development and B&W Film Development.

Nepal: Experiment in Education (1962)

31 May
Director  Hugh Bernard Wood
Producer  American Nepal Education Foundation
Contributors
Length  40 min
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:  N/A
Call # Mc59
Genre  Documentary
Rare YES
Online YES
Copyright status  Public Domain
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  YES

Notes:

The American Nepal Education Foundation was charted by the State of Oregon in 1955. In cooperation with the University of Oregon, the United State Operation Mission contracted to provide professional training over a period of six years for about fifty Nepalese scholars.

Hugh Bernard Wood (1909-1995) was a Professor Emeritus of the College of Education at the University of Oregon and founded the American Nepal Education Foundation.  He spent six years as the chief of the Education Division of U.S. Operations Mission in Nepal, and helped form its national education system from 1953-1959.

This film is extremely rare and valuable as it displays Nepal’s educational system at its very beginning.  The Nepalese government was searching in vain for it until, through a chance encounter, our lovely Elizabeth Peterson here at the UO libraries reached them, painstakingly got the film digitized, and sent it over.  Now we also have a copy of the film on our library’s website here.

Natural Timber Country (1972)

20 Mar
Director  Ron Finne
Producer  Teknifilm
Contributors
Length  53 minutes
B&W/Color  Color
UO Library Catalog description:  Tells the story of the logging industry in Oregon, with emphasis on older logging techniques.
Call #  FILM MD24
Genre  Documentary
Rare  No
Online  No
Copyright status  Public Domain
Physical condition  Fair
Oregon-related  Yes

Notes:

Natural Timber Country was filmed by Oregon native Ron Finne and is the story of old-time logging in the forests of the Northwest. The film was originally available only by mail order from the director’s home in Springfield.

The film lacks a traditional narrator, instead giving us interviews with loggers taped in the field or their homes. To help us visualize the words of the loggers, Finne edits them together with shots of the Northwestern wilderness, both in Oregon and Washington. Also featured is old footage and photographs of loggers stump-rigging trees, skidding felled logs down greased tracks, and one of the first mechanical improvements in the logging business, a steam powered engine for moving larger timber. Also recalled are stunts and jokes of the loggers, such as standing at the very tip top of a limbed and topped tree, or jumping from one log to another as they rolled down a hill.

Above all, the message of the Natural Timber Country is an environmental one. As one man says at the outset of the film. “Timber all around you, you just never figure you’d use it up.”

We have multiple films in the University of Oregon archives made by Ron Finne, a Eugene/Springfield, OR local.  We own films of his including The Whale (1971) and Tamanawis Illahee Rituals and Acts in a Landscape (1983)

%d bloggers like this: