Feb. 9, 2009
Whitworth's Inaugural Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival to Kick Off Feb. 20
Film showings in honor of longtime English professor to include discussions with the writer/director of Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump
Whitworth English Professor Leonard Oakland fell in love with movies partly as a result of not being allowed to watch them. Films were banned at the college Oakland attended, so when he pursued graduate studies in the early 1960s at the University of California—Berkeley, he spent many of his evenings at the movie theatre, soaking up foreign films that had started flooding the American market.
Those movie-going experiences stirred in Oakland a lifelong passion for films and filmmaking. That passion eventually led him to launch film studies at Whitworth, to become involved with the Spokane-area movie scene, and to work on several Hollywood motion pictures. Oakland started teaching film at Whitworth in 1970, and since then he has introduced several generations of students to classic American, foreign and independent movies and documentaries.
"I like introducing students to the great classics in film, as I do in literature," Oakland says. "Movies keep changing, and there have always been a lot of forgettable films made, but we hold on to certain ones and say, 'These should not be lost in memory.'"
Oakland, who has taught at Whitworth for 43 years, recently moved into a half-time position at the university. Whitworth is working with alumni, friends and family to create an endowment in his name, and he has identified film studies as the area in which he wants to establish long-term funding. The endowment will be used to fund a recurring film festival.
Whitworth will host the inaugural Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival Feb. 20-22. The festival will feature three film showings as well as discussions with several of the filmmakers, including Oakland's longtime friend Ron Shelton, writer/director of Bull Durham and White Men Can't Jump, in which Oakland had a small acting role. Shelton will introduce Bull Durham at a public showing of the film at the AMC Theatre in River Park Square on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m. Also on Saturday, Whitworth will host a Leonard A. Oakland Celebration Banquet at 6 p.m. at the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane. The banquet will include the premiere of a new short film, A Portrait of Leonard Oakland, produced by Whitworth alumna Andrea Palpant Dilley, who is a producer and director at Spokane-based North by Northwest Productions.
Oakland says he chose to create an endowment in film studies because his other primary interests, such as poetry and music, were already represented in the university's budget.
"I'm interested in seeing the study of film and visual literacy continue, and it needs a home," Oakland says. "That's the dream behind this festival and the legacy we hope to leave with this endowment."
Since semi-retirement has lightened his regular course load a bit, Oakland hopes to start teaching more specialized film courses, such as French, Italian, Asian, or independent American cinema. He also plans to stay active with the Spokane International Film Festival and continue his participation in Movies 101, a weekly roundtable discussion on Spokane Public Radio that critiques films.
Following is a schedule of events for the film festival. For more information, visit www.whitworth.edu/heritagemonth.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Tad Wisenor, director of campaign planning in institutional advancement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or email@example.com.
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