December 2nd, 2019

Can’t Miss: McMinnville Short Film Festival

Granted, I don’t see as many movies as I used to, but one of the funniest I’ve seen this year is called I Will Not Write Unless I Am Swaddled in Furs.

It’s about six minutes long, which is precisely as long as it needs to be. That I know about it at all is because it was screened earlier this year at the McMinnville Short Film Festival, where it was a crowd favorite — and not just with the writers in the audience. 

If you’ve not heard of the MSFF, plan on visiting this winter. It’s set for Feb. 21-23. Oregon’s film community has learned that McMinnville’s home-grown film festival is an essential stop on the circuit, and everyone who loves watching a good movie is welcome.

Founded by Dan and Nancy Morrow of McMinnville nine years ago, the MSFF screens dozens of short films over the weekend. The films are high-quality work in all genres that come from all over the country and around the world.

It’s a chance to see the best of the best.

“Some people look at a short film as a commercial, or a reel, or practice,” said MSFF executive director Justin Zimmerman. “But it is a legitimate art form.”

Last year’s event featured screening blocks that mixed, so it was impossible to know what you were in for. Good news for 2020: Screening sessions will be organized by genre, so if you have no interest in horror, for example, you can get a ticket for comedy, documentaries, or ecologically-themed blocks.

Also, meet the filmmakers! Oregon film directors are laid-back folk. They’re unpretentious and enjoy meeting an audience and answering questions about their work. This isn’t an event swarming with corporate types and agents making deals. The MSFF is for filmmakers and people who love movies.

Also, expect breaks between blocks so you can make the same discoveries that Zimmerman, a Portlander who had never been to McMinnville, made: Our city is packed with restaurants and shops that you must experience for yourselves.

“I would not have known about this place if I hadn’t come down for the festival,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t know that there’s a spot here that I haven’t eaten at yet. That’s the thing, I’m an enthusiast of McMinnville’s downtown. I’ve bought records here, I’ve bought books. I haven’t had an experience here where people weren’t just thrilled to be here.”

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.