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Short films close out Milwaukie Film Fest season

A group of films that Greg Baartz-Bowman calls “the best and the brightest of short films” will end this season’s Milwaukie Festival of Short Films on Saturday, May 10.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: GREG BAARTZ-BOWMAN - 'The Gallant Captain' is an animated film from Australia based on a children's book to be featured at the Milwaukie Film Festival.Upriver/Downtown, presented by Straw Bale Films, includes eight family-friendly films, starting at 7 p.m. at the Milwaukie Masonic Lodge, 10636 S.E. Main St., followed by six films for a more mature audience, starting at 9 p.m.

“You’ll never see a better collection of films together anywhere else. This is a curated show, and all the films have won awards or jury prizes,” Baartz-Bowman said.

Film favorites

by: PHOTO COURTESY: GREG BAARTZ-BOWMAN - Gallant Captain directors pictured are Graeme Base and Katrina Mathers from Melbourne, Australia.Three films among the family-friendy offerings really stand out for Baartz-Bowman.

“The Gallant Captain,” an animated film from Australia based on a children’s book, follows the imaginative adventures of a boy and his cat.

The film recently won the jury prize for best short film at the Aspen Shortsfest 2014, and Baartz-Bowman the Masonic Lodge is the only venue showing the film, online or off-line.

Two other short films will run the gamut of emotions: “The Talk,” made by a 17-year-old Seattle high school student, will make you laugh, while “The Masterchef,” set in India, will tug at your heartstrings, Baartz-Bowman said.

“The Talk” is about a couple who tells their teenage son that they’re getting a divorce. The discussion quickly escalates into an argument over who gets custody of the family Chihuahua. People were still laughing, even after the credits finished rolling, Baartz-Bowman said.

Calling “The Masterchef” inspiring, he added that the piece is about a shoeshine boy in India who meets a celebrity chef. It is one of the Sundance Institute short-film challenge winners and is subtitled.

Baartz-Bowman also is looking forward to showing two films with adult themes: “Obey the Giant” and “Kombit.”

“Obey the Giant” is a narrative about the street artist Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic Obama “Hope” poster in 2008. The film details another Fairey campaign in 1989, when he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“He created a facial image of Andre the Giant and put it on a sticker and then put the stickers all over Providence, R.I. The film contains some violence and some racy language,” Baartz-Bowman said.

“Kombit” is a documentary made in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and shows how some displaced residents started a micro-garden movement to combat post-earthquake hunger and despair. The film also was a Sundance Institute short-film challenge winner.

Planning ahead

Although this is the last short-film event for the season, Baartz-Bowman already is thinking ahead to next year, when he hopes to get more grant money from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, and Celebrate Milwaukie.

“Next year should be similar to this year. The winter months are the best time to show short films, and if everything falls into place and the partners are able to provide the lodge and the sound system” the film festival will be back.

Baartz-Bowman added, “Everyone is having so much fun. This all about showing good films” and bringing people to downtown Milwaukie.

The event is free, but donations are always welcome. For more information, and to see a complete list of films, visit milwaukiefilmfestival.com.