Cinema Pacific Film Festival brings an ocean of movies to campus

The Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest body of water, has influenced the economies and cultures of coastal nations for millions of years, and the University of Oregon, only about an hour’s drive from the coastline, is no exception.

That connection between the university and the sea will be on display during the annual Cinema Pacific Film Festival in Eugene April 27 through May 3.

The festival features films and demonstrations that capture the life and spirit of countries along the Pacific. This year will feature new film productions and live performances, as well as some familiar faces.

Kyle Steinbach, who graduated from the UO in 2011, will debut his feature-length independent film, “Bad Exorcists.” A horror-comedy of sorts, his film tells the story of a few high school students competing in a horror film contest who manage to possess their lead actress with an actual demon. Steinbach included several former Ducks in his cast and crew, and he even makes a cameo himself. 

While attending the UO, Steinbach participated in the Adrenaline Film Project, one of the much-anticipated centerpieces of the festival. The project is an intense, 72-hour “movie-making blitz,” in which 12 filmmaker teams — mentored by Hollywood professionals — compete to pitch, shoot and edit the best short movie. “Bad Exorcists” is set to premier before the Adrenaline project screenings on April 27.

The festival has also partnered with the UO Confucius Institute this year to bring the martial arts film genre, wuxia, to Eugene audiences. Chinese film star and producer Daniel Wu, a 1997 UO grad and founder of the UO Wushu Club, will speak to festival-goers via Skype after a screening of his film on sorcery and swordplay, “Tai Chi Zero.”

Also, Master Hu Jianqiang, widely known as the highest-ranking Wushu master in the West, will visit the festival to perform an exhibition, “Masters of Chinese Martial Arts,” May 3.

Another centerpiece of Cinema Pacific is the annual Fringe Festival, which takes place May 2 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. The festival-within-a-festival will include a live performance by the “father of the new Filipino cinema,” Kidlat Tahimik.

The Fringe Festival also features media installations by UO students and professionals, interactive computer games, art exhibits, Filipino food tastings and a karaoke bar and dance club. The event is influenced and themed after the classic wuxia film, “A Touch of Zen.”

A few film screenings will, somewhat literally, hit close to home for Oregonians: two documentaries, titled “Mending the Line” and “A River Between Us,” focus on a World War II veteran turned legendary Umpqua River fly fisherman and a historic call to action from former Oregon state legislator Jason Atkinson to restore the Klamath River.

Additionally, UO sociology professor Michael Dreiling will preview his film, still a work-in-progress, about national disarmament in Costa Rica, “A Bold Peace.” Another UO professor, journalism instructor Daniel Miller, will showcase his work on two short films about documentary filmmaker James Blue.

Finally, filmmaker Jeremy Teicher and Oregon distance runner Alexi Pappas will show their highly-praised feature film, set and filmed in Africa, “Tall as the Baobab Tree.” The duo will also give a presentation on the status of their next film, shot in Eugene, titled, “Tracktown.”

The Cinema Pacific Film Festival bridges the divide between the many coasts of the Pacific Ocean. Audiences at the UO and throughout the Eugene community are invited to attend all events. Ticket prices, complete descriptions of festival films, show times and locations are available here.

—By Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications intern