Klamath Film’s year in review

Plenty to celebrate in busy, chaotic COVID-filled 2020

2020 started off with a change of leadership for Klamath Film, and finished with a month of serving as Santa’s elves – with plenty happening in between – during a year like none other. Here is a brief look back at Klamath Film’s 2020.

Kurt Liedtke was hired as the new executive director of Klamath Film, a full-time journalist with the Herald & News and filmmaker with over a decade of experience in Hollywood before relocating to the Klamath Basin.

At the January Klamath Film member meeting (held at Waffle Hut), it was announced that starting in February monthly meetings would include Q&As with featured guest experts in the Hollywood film industry each month. 

Tickets go on sale for the 2020 Oscar nominated Short Films special presentation, held in February at Pelican Cinemas.

Film submissions for the 2020 Klamath Independent Film Festival began being accepted for consideration.

Actress/screenwriter/filmmaker Anna Nicholas becomes the first featured guest of Klamath Film’s monthly member meetings, joining members virtually via Skype at Waffle Hut for a fun conversation about her career, upcoming projects, and provided plenty of advice for members.

Continuing an annual tradition, Klamath Film hosted a special presentation at Pelican Cinemas of the 2020 Academy Awards (Oscar) nominated short films. Films included came from around the world from places such as Tunisia, Colombia, China, Canada, France, The Czech Republic, and more.

In a frantic production prior to deadline, Klamath Film partnered with local
filmmaker David Kirk West and several local organizations to create a submission for HGTV’s “Hometown Makeover.” In only four days a fantastic short film was created and submitted for the program’s consideration highlighting areas of Klamath Falls in need of restoration.


The film Phoenix, Oregon, shot in Klamath Falls in 2018 with many Klamath Film members actively involved in the production, is finally released to theaters nationally – along with a simultaneous online VOD campaign. The release week coincides with a national theater shutdown due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to the online campaign Phoenix, Oregon becomes the #1 film in America in domestic box office. It becomes one of only a handful of independent films to ever achieve the honor, and is the lowest-grossing #1 film in America in history. Still, we’re pretty darn proud of the achievement.

Klamath Falls-raised documentary filmmaker and USC Professor of Film Skye Borgman is the featured guest of the March member meeting. Skye shared plenty of stories of growing up in Klamath and how she got into the film industry. Her most recent feature-length film Abducted in Plain Sight was screened in 2019 at Pelican Cinema with Skye in attendance to answer questions.

Oregon Film launches the #InspirationOregon film competition, encouraging filmmakers stuck at home due to COVID to produce short films about how they are coping and finding inspiration from Oregon. The friendly competition draws some fantastic films, including a few from Klamath Film members.

Ashland Independent Film Festival announces that their 2020 festival has been canceled.

The Portland International Film Festival is shutdown halfway through the  event due to theater restrictions as the COVID-19 pandemic grows.

Klamath Film adds two new Board of Directors members – Lindsay Silver and Court Cannick.


The producers behind Phoenix, Oregon offer the film in another exclusively online campaign, with proceeds benefitting local theaters shutdown due to the pandemic. 

Our friends at Film Southern Oregon draw inspiration from the #InspirationOregon film competition and launch one of their own — The Social DisDance

The April monthly member meeting is cancelled due to lack of a venue amid COVID-19 restrictions.


Klamath Film monthly meetings return, this time exclusively online, welcoming Screenwriter Patrick Casey – whose latest project Sonic the Hedgehog had generated over $300 million in box office in early 2020 prior to the shutdown. During the video call Patrick announces first before it was made public anywhere else that he was writing the script for Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Ashland Independent Film Festival, after initially canceling their event, instead presents their festival online via Film Festival Flix. The three-week online festival becomes a huge success, and is a major inspiration for the hybrid presentation that Klamath Film would conduct for its 8th annual Klamath Independent Film Festival.

After the success of the theater fundraiser, Phoenix, Oregon‘s producers once again put together an online viewing campaign – this time to benefit local restaurants. 

Klamath Film members receive a 50% discount for the online Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Sky Borgman, March’s featured meeting guest, releases her latest project – a documentary series on Netflix: Trial By Media. Borgman directed one episode.

Klamath Film livestreams the Graduation Sensation event, virtually handing out scholarships to Klamath Basin high school graduates.



Hollywood film/tv composer Fil Eisler joins Klamath Film members live from his recording studio for a very fun conversation about the relationship between film and music for the June member meeting.

After being extended for two extra weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, submissions close for the eighth annual Klamath Independent Film Festival. 

Southern Oregon University hosts its annual Student Film Festival. Several of the films showcased would also be accepted for KIFF.

After multiple fundraising events are cancelled due to COVID, Klamath Film receives multiple COVID Relief grants from Oregon Humanities and the Oregon Community Foundation.

Klamath Film livestreams Lakeview High School’s graduation ceremony.


Another one of Klamath Falls’ own filmmakers that has gone on to do great things in the film industry – Bergen Swanson joins Klamath Film for its July member meeting for a discussion about filmmaking from his home in Vermont. Bergen grew up locally repairing bicycles at his dad’s shop “The Yankee Peddler” for years before becoming a film producer.

In a partnership with Southern Oregon University’s Cinema Studies program, Klamath Film announces it will offer its first-ever youth film camp in August.

Klamath Film adds Mark Shapiro to its Board of Directors – a former LAIKA head of marketing based in Portland. 

Following an extensive multi-tiered judging process, the selections for the eighth annual Klamath Independent Film Festival are announced. It is also announced that the festival for the first time will be presented online as well as in-person at The Ross Ragland Theater, complete with livestreams from the theater for Q&As.


Klamath Film and SOU present a week-long online film camp for Southern Oregon teens and families to teach the basics of filmmaking from home with minimal equipment. It is a hectic week with lots of information and special guests at each session from the film industry to talk about their job. Two of the films created during the film camp are included in the Klamath Independent Film Festival.

Oregon Film announces the annual Oregon Outdoor Adventure Film Grant, offering $20,000 for an outdoors-based film production to be set in Oregon.

The schedule for the eighth annual Klamath Independent Film Festival is announced.

Ghost Particle begins offering reduced rates for Klamath Film members for audio and post-production services.

Klamath Film member meetings return to in-person gatherings at the Mia & Pia’s Pizzeria and Brewhouse outdoor patio, along with an online videoconferencing option. The featured guest is Andrew Gay, who the previous month co-taught the Klamath Film online teen film camp.

After the devastating fires in Ashland and Medford area that leveled homes, including the house of one of the filmmakers accepted for KIFF, Klamath Film coordinates a “cable drive” collecting donation wires and adapters at The Ross Ragland Theater to donate to the filmmakers who lost their home.

The eighth annual Klamath Independent Film Festival is held at The Ross Ragland Theater, welcoming a maximum audience of 100 people. It becomes the only film festival in the entire country in the fall capable of welcoming audiences to a theater. The festival is also presented as VOD and livestreamed. The festival features seven world premieres.

To expand Klamath Independent Film Festival’s stance as the premier Oregon-centric film fest, a partnership with the Southern Cascade Woodcrafters Guild is launched to create custom awards for KIFF created by local wood artists – each award its own unique art piece based on the winning films. The awards are an instant hit among the audience and filmmakers alike.

Awards created by the Southern Cascade Woodcrafters Guild for KIFF2020

In the wake of the success of KIFF’s hybrid presentation, Executive Director Kurt Liedtke is invited to be a featured speaker at the International Documentary Conference to discuss how to present film festivals during a pandemic. 



Max Siemers, a major Hollywood film producer and University of Oregon graduate, is October’s featured guest at the Klamath Film member meeting. Max detailed his extensive work with Netflix and how he worked his way up the ladder to become a producer, and what it’s like to create films during COVID.

Klamath Falls-raised filmmaker Skye Borgman directs one episode of the new Unsolved Mysteries series on Netflix.

Filmmakers from Los Angeles visit Klamath Falls to location scout for a feature film production tentatively slated to film next fall, titled “Dark Woods.”



Veteran Hollywood actor Chairman Barnes is the featured guest of the November Klamath Film meeting. The event marks a new venue for the monthly meetings, moving to The Ross Ragland Theater’s conference room.

In what is by far the most complex livestream conducted by Klamath Film yet, a classical concert by The Virtuosa Society is simulcast from The Ross Ragland Theater as a multimedia experience. The event draws a global audience.

Klamath Film partners with Klamath Falls Downtown Association to livestream the annual Klamath Christmas Tree lighting ceremony from Klamath Commons Park to officially kick off the Snowflake Festival.

Klamath Film launches a community campaign to add Klamath Falls to the Oregon Film Trail – a statewide campaign by Oregon Film to place historic markers at the site of films of significance shot in Oregon.

Klamath Film collaborates with the Snowflake Festival all December providing sound and lights at the Daily Bagel so that Santa Claus can safely meet with kids socially-distanced. The weekly Santa events include free cookies and hot chocolate.

Due to the date coinciding with other events, the December Klamath Film meeting is cancelled.

Thanks to donations from multiple organizations and individuals including Discover Klamath, KFDA, KCEDA, Soroptimist International, Doug Halverson, Barbara Mossey, and attorney Phil Studenberg, enough funds are raised for construction of a marker on the Oregon Film Trail.

Klamath Falls City Council approves placement of a historic marker on the Oregon Film Trail. After letters of support from the community, Oregon Film approves Klamath Falls for placement of the next marker on the Historic Oregon Film Trail. The film to be honored will be Phoenix, Oregon, with a formal unveiling ceremony to be livestreamed in early 2021.

Klamath Film presents the annual Christmas Jubilee fundraiser for the Assistance League of Klamath Basin via livestream.






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