Pam Minty and Alain LeTourneau present their 2011 film Empty Quarter on Wednesday May 30, 2012, 11:30-1:30, in Lecture Hall 1 at The Evergreen State College.
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 open 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.
Pam Minty and Alain LeTourneau are media artists based in Portland, Oregon. They are the co-founders of 40frames.org, a 16mm film preservation and advocacy organization that maintains the web resource 16mmdirectory.org, houses a collection of 16mm prints, and provides a menu of technical services to media artists and organizations.
Empty Quarter is their first co-production, and has been exhibited at venues and festivals throughout North America, including the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, Margaret Mead Film Festival, and the Vancouver International Film Centre. Minty and LeTourneau are currently at work on new projects scheduled for release winter 2013.