Empty Quarter (2011, 16mm black & white/sound, 71 minutes) is a film about the region of Southeast Oregon, an area populated by ranching and farming communities, in Lake, Harney, and Malheur counties. The region is roughly one-third of Oregon’s landmass yet holds less than 2% of the state’s population.
Southeast Oregon, though familiar by name is a foreign place, particularly to those who reside in urban environments. It is a landscape in the making, constantly undergoing change, being re-worked. It is a highly politicized landscape, evoking differing opinions concerning resource management and land use. It is also a landscape that is, despite some beliefs, rich with diversity, as seen by the presence of East Indian and Japanese families, ancestors of Basque sheepherders, home to the Paiute tribes people, and to Latinos who have come to help work the land.
Empty Quarter departs from a documentary form that utilizes “talking head” interviews and “B-roll” or “cut-away” images tied together with occasional narration. The film instead presents stark portraits, waiting to be explored and digested by the viewer. Meaning is extracted in the slow process of accumulation and measured response. Through a series of stationary shots, recording closed landscapes and the activities of local residents, Empty Quarter reflects on the character of the region. Natural areas are viewed among images of industry, various labor processes, resource management and recreation. Voices of local residents describe the history of pioneer settlement, social life of rural communities and the struggles of small town economies.
Alain LeTourneau and Pam Minty | 2011 | United States | Digital Projection | 71 minutes
For more inforation about the film: http://www.emptyquarterfilm.org/
Alain LeTourneau is a media artist based in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-founder of 40 Frames, a 16mm conservation and advocacy organization that maintains the web resource 16mm Directoryand houses a collection of 16mm film prints. Alain utilizes 16mm film, video and still photography to explore the natural and built environment, and the idea of development as it relates to land use. Alain’s latest film is closed Road, a film about urban space designed for movement and storage of private motor vehicles.
Pam Minty is a filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. Her work explores landscape and history through the sound/image relationship of moving images. Finding inspiration at the intersection of structuralist film and direct cinema documentary, her work seeks to engage the viewer in an active relationship to the subject.